I continue to see in almost all of my encounters with technology use in libraries an ever-increasing reliance on cooperative efforts to find ways to gain more efficiencies, lower costs, and make a greater impact on patron services than possible alone. This spirit of cooperation seems well rooted in most library organizations.
So many of the projects about which I have written for Smart Libraries Newsletter revolve around technologies that enable libraries to share resources and collaborate. In the September 2012 issue, I described Illinois Heartland Library System strategy to consolidate multiple regional library systems and to implement one of the largest shared ILS implementations in the United States. I also covered the Orbis Cascade Alliance's progressive trajectory toward deeper cooperation among its 37 academic library members, culminating in a single shared library management and discovery environment. It's exciting to see the same spirit of cooperation in other regions around the globe. I just returned from a business trip to Australia and New Zealand, countries that are quite advanced in library automation and also strongly inclined toward collaboration. Within New Zealand, several projects stand out as reflecting this trend of collaboration.
No discussion about library technologies in New Zealand would be complete without mentioning Koha, the open source ILS that was developed for a group of libraries organized in a cooperative called the Horowhenua Library Trust (HLT), located just a few miles Palmerston North, the venue for the LIANZA conference, where I spoke. Joann Ransom, the head of libraries of HLT, and Chris Cormack, one of the original developers of Koha, who now works for Catalyst IT, were both at the conference. Created in 1999, Koha has spread to thousands of libraries in all regions of the globe. Its ongoing development of Koha has been made possible through a worldwide collaboration, including individuals working with companies devoted to its support and development as well as the libraries that use the software.
The Kōtui project reflects another aspect of library cooperation in New Zealand. Born of a collaboration among the National Library, the Association of Public Library Managers, and the Local Government New Zealand, Kōtui provides a shared library automation environment available to public libraries throughout the country. The project launched in 2009 to provide a hosted integrated library system, discovery interface, and wide area network connectivity. Following an extensive procurement process, Kōtui selected SirsiDynix Symphony as the ILS component along with EBSCO Discovery Service. Computer Concepts Ltd., based in Wellington, New Zealand provides hosting services. To date, 41 libraries across 12 library services have subscribed to Kōtui, with a few other prospective subscribers and implementations underway. Though not necessarily positioned to support all of the public libraries in the country, Kōtui has provided an opportunity for many libraries to gain access to a modern library management environment at an affordable cost.
New Zealand provides another example of libraries consolidating into a shared library automation environment. In Auckland, the largest city in the country, automation systems previously operated by seven separate councils joined in a single Millennium ILS that serves the 55 library branches throughout the entire metropolitan area.
Another initiative, called Te Puna, provides cataloging and resource sharing services to all libraries in New Zealand. The National Library maintains a union catalog of all materials held in the country using an Ex Libris Voyager ILS that is synchronized continuously with WorldCat. Libraries can use cataloging clients provided by Te Puna to create new records in the national union catalog and to bring records into their local systems. Librarians follow a common set of cataloging standards to maintain consistency and quality. An optional service, called OSMOSIS and based on software developed by the MARC of Quality, is available to streamline the workflow of sending records to the national union catalog. Te Puna also includes an interlibrary loan service based on OCLC's VDX software and jointly operated by the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa and the National Library. An Interloan Billing System manages the invoicing for lending fees. New Zealand, as a relatively isolated country, has put into place a variety of initiatives that foster strategic cooperation.
It is also interesting to observe the ILS products used in New Zealand. The international products familiar in North America are well represented. Millennium finds use in the larger public and academic libraries. SirsiDynix Symphony sees extensive adoption both through Kōtui and other independent implementations. Carl.X is used in the Wellington City Libraries. Koha has been implemented by at least 6 library services serving 27 branches. Spydus from Civica finds use in both public and academic libraries in New Zealand. Spydus was marketed in the United States in the 1990s, but achieved very little traction. Softlink's Liberty ILS is popular with public and academic libraries.
Some products used in New Zealand libraries not seen in North America include eLM from Contec Group, NCS Library System from Napier Computer Systems, and MUSAC Library Manager. The library automation scene in New Zealand seems similar to what I have observed in almost all other international regions where the internationally-based systems increasingly dominate at the expense of local providers. The organizations that develop library automation systems for a specific country or region often do not have the resources for the level of ongoing development needed to keep up with the continual changes in preferred technology architectures or with the shifts in library requirements. For better or worse, I see library automation to be increasingly dominated by a relatively small number of large companies, each with broad international reach. New Zealand seems quite consistent with this trend.