Library Technology Guides

Documents, Databases, News, and Commentary

Library Technology Guides provides comprehensive and objective information surrounding the many different types of technology products and services used by libraries. It covers the organizations that develop and support library-oriented software and systems. The site offers extensive databases and document repositories to assist libraries as they consider new systems and is an essential resource for professionals in the field to stay current with new developments and trends. Relevant news items are posted daily on Twitter:

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Library Perceptions 2021: Results of the 13th International Survey of Library Automation

This fourteenth iteration of the International Survey of Library Automation was conducted during an extremely challenging period for libraries. The global COVID-19 pandemic imposed widespread disruption. Libraries abruptly closed their physical facilities and expanded their digital offerings. It is not a surprise that the number of responses to the Library Automation Survey were fewer than previous years. This year 2,849 libraries responded to the survey, a bit lower than the 3,234 recorded last year. The survey aims to capture meaningful information regarding the core technology systems on which libraries depend to manage their operations and to deliver access to their collections.

Notable Observations
Survey responses suggest ongoing success for Alma among academic libraries, given its generally respectable satisfaction ratings, strong loyalty scores, and top placement among migration intentions among libraries planning a change from legacy systems. Though not yet implemented widely enough to gauge satisfaction, migration intentions suggest FOLIO as Alma’s strongest competition going forward, though interest in OCLC WorldShare Management Services and Koha remain strong.
The decline of legacy products accelerates. Improving satisfaction rankings for both Voyager and Aleph, including rising loyalty scores, and migration intentions favoring Alma suggest most may stay within the Ex Libris camp, though many also express interest in FOLIO, WMS, and Koha. Libraries using Millennium show a continued decline in satisfaction ratings, loyalty scores, and migration intentions favoring Alma and FOLIO rather than Sierra. Especially in the academic library sector, the trajectories of libraries moving from legacy products will shape the next phase of implementations of the current flagship products.
In the public library sector where traditional ILS products prevail, responses indicate moderate interest in changing to new systems, though with no prevailing indicators of migration targets. Symphony (17%), Horizon (34%), Polaris (7.3%), Library.Solution (10.3%), Sierra (31%), VERSO (9.8%)
Libraries using modern web-based products have little interest in changing systems. Biblionix Apollo received high satisfaction scores and very few libraries using it are considering alternatives (1.1%). Even through their satisfaction ratings are not superlative, libraries using Ex Libris Alma (3.4%) and OCLC WorldShare Management Services (8.8%) expressed little interest in changing systems.
Open source products have become a routine option in all library sectors. Both major open source ILS products, Koha and Evergreen, show increasing levels of satisfaction, though a bit uneven depending on support arrangements. OPALS used mostly in school and academic libraries, earns superlative scores. Awareness of the FOLIO library services platform continues to increase with 88 libraries mentioning it among their migration candidates.

Even in times of crisis, libraries continue their ongoing processes. System migrations planned or underway generally moved forward, often with some concessions to accommodate the need conduct the work entirely off site, with vendors and library personnel working remotely. Libraries continue to make progress in replacing legacy systems and to investigate new products well suited to their operational needs and strategic vision.

Statistical ratings and narrative comments given in survey responses fill in details surrounding the broader events in the library technology sector, such as Industry consolidation, open source software initiatives, and the decline of legacy products. Responses address some key questions: How are libraries reacting to the dominance of Alma in the academic library sector? How well does Alma serve smaller academic libraries? Are there leading indicators that anticipate the acceptance of FOLIO as an open source competitor? What are the intentions of libraries still using legacy products such as Voyager, Aleph, Virtua, and Millennium?

Trends in survey results over time track the impact of previous industry events on libraries. The generally negative fallout of the acquisition of SirsiDynix by Vista Equity Partners in 2007 coincided with a sharp plunge in satisfaction ratings for Symphony and Horizon, which have fully recovered and trended upward since its transition of ownership to ICV Partners. A dramatic decline in satisfaction ratings for Sierra followed Innovative’s transition to private equity ownership in 2012. Likewise, Polaris dropped from its previous superlative rankings once it was acquired by Innovative. In contrast, ratings for Alma continued a gradual improvement since Ex Libris was acquired by ProQuest. Satisfaction scores for Voyager improved following the acquisition of Endeavor Information Systems by Ex Libris, following a darker period of ownership by Elsevier. In this first year since the acquisition of Innovative by ProQuest satisfaction ratings for both Polaris and Sierra both turned upward. Survey results give early indications of library interest in FOLIO, especially through the migration intention trends.

Several themes are evident in the last few editions of the perceptions survey. Large libraries of all types have complex requirements and evaluate their systems on a much harsher scale than smaller organizations. Presenting results without regard to size categories would give misleading impressions. Products designed for small libraries would not be sucessful among larger and more complex institutions, despite superlative ratings by the small libraries that use them.

Conventional integrated library systems dominate public libraries, with top scores going to proprietary products in the largest tier and to those based on commercially supported open source software in the mid-size category. Small and very small public libraries also favored proprietary ILS products. In the academic library sector, survey results reveal notable patterns regarding library services platforms. These products received strong marks in most categories but are not rated as highly for managing print resources than legacy ILS products. Small libraries give superlative scores--with little differentiation among question categories--to products able to meet their basic requirements without complex features they don't need.

(Library Technology Guides, March 30, 2021)

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Smarter Libraries through Technology: Trustworthiness and Competition

Smarter Libraries through Technology: Trustworthiness and Competition

The news of the Federal Trade Commission's closing its review of ProQuest's acquisition of Innovative Interfaces evokes questions regarding competitiveness in the library technology industry. Throughout my career, I have observed a continual succession of business acquisitions and ownership changes among the companies involved in providing technology products to libraries. The net impact of these events can be seen in the current business environment. Responsibility for strategic technology products is concentrated in a relatively small number of large organizations, though there are definitely important players in the mid-sized and small tiers of the industry. Recent transactions have attracted considerable attention. While the consolidation of the industry is not new, its depth is unprecedented. We should also assume that this process will continue. Multiple companies in the library tech industry are due for ownership changes and transitions in the next year or so. While delays in moves of ownership remain possible, it is more realistic to expect additional business concentration.

(Smart Libraries Newsletter, December 2020)

SOLUS Expands through Acquisition of Boopsie

SOLUS has acquired the Boopsie Mobile division from Demco, Inc. The deal strengthens SOLUS's presence in the global library market. Boopsie was one of the pioneers of mobile technology in libraries, though its presence has since been eclipsed by SOLUS and other providers. The technology platform developed by Boopsie was quite advanced and forward-looking when it was launched in 2005, though it may not necessarily be optimal for the current generation of patron-facing mobile interfaces. This business event provides libraries using Boopsie's products an opportunity to shift to more recently developed technologies provided by a vendor with established success in the library mobile technology sector. While consistent with the pattern of consolidation within a market niche, it runs a bit counter to the trend for smaller specialized companies to be acquired by large businesses with diverse product portfolios.

(Smart Libraries Newsletter, November 2020)

OCLC Acquires Capira Technologies, Strengthening its Mobile Offerings

OCLC has acquired Capira Technologies, a small firm specializing in mobile apps for libraries. In a deal concluded on July 1, 2020, OCLC assumes responsibility for the company, including the development and support of its existing mobile apps. The four employees of Capira Technology also joined OCLC, including company founder Michael Berse.

(Smart Libraries Newsletter, October 2020)

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Library Systems Report 2020: Fresh opportunities amid consolidation

Library Systems Report 2020: Fresh opportunities amid consolidation

The library technology industry took some significant turns in 2019. Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, acquired Innovative Interfaces and shifted the balance of power, strengthening Ex Libris’s position in technology for academic libraries and propelling it as a major player in public libraries. This move narrows the slate of competitors in an industry already offering few viable options for many libraries. Technology for public library automation has been mired in stagnation. It takes a substantial level of development to both maintain existing products and build next-generation technologies for the emerging realities of a given library sector. Will Ex Libris opt to invent a new platform for public libraries, as it did for academics? How it responds may shape whether we see ongoing stasis or a new phase of innovation. Consolidation can also accelerate the development of alternatives. Concern about the lack of options for academic libraries was a factor in the launch of the open source FOLIO project. This year FOLIO became more real when a library moved it into production for the first time; a cadre of major libraries is poised for implementation. Success among these early sites will shape whatever position FOLIO might hold in the next phase of academic library technologies. New product categories have begun to emerge. Many companies look beyond the library as their sole audience for development and create products targeting their parent institutions or communities. Recent efforts include tech products that support teaching, such as reading-list applications, discovery services for open educational resources, and support for application program interfaces (APIs) and protocols that connect the library with student information systems. Interest in support services for higher-education research has increased. Research information systems have been available for quite some time, but this new wave of products positions libraries as research stakeholders.

(American Libraries, May 1, 2020)

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EBSCO Information Services Acquires Zepheira

Zepheira, a company that has played a prominent role in the promotion and implementation of linked data to libraries and related institutions, has been acquired by EBSCO Information Services.

(Smart Libraries Newsletter, April 2020)

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Library Perceptions 2020: Results of the 13th International Survey of Library Automation

Library Perceptions 2020: Results of the 13th International Survey of Library Automation

The thirteenth edition of the International Survey of Library Automation presents the latest data on how libraries perceive the effectiveness of the strategic technology systems upon which they depend for their daily operations and to fulfill the expectations of their patrons. This report presents and interprets survey responses gathered from November 2019 through February 2020. Repeating the survey annually reveals interesting trends and insights into the companies and products involved. The survey focuses primarily on integrated library systems and library services platforms as the applications used to acquire, describe, manage, and provide access to their collections. It also assesses the quality of support given from the respective vendor and probes interest in migrating to new solutions and attitudes toward open source alternatives.

Notable Observations
Survey responses suggest possible trends in the next phase of system selections for academic libraries. Ex Libris Alma continues to be recognized for its sophisticated capabilities, especially among large and mid-sized institutions. OCLC WorldShare Management Services is well regarded among mid-sized academics. An increasing number of academic libraries mention interest in FOLIO as it enters the implementation phase of its product cycle.
The migration away from legacy ILS products is in full swing. Most libraries using Millennium, Voyager, and Aleph noted they are considering moving to new systems. The number of libraries using these legacy products continues to diminish rapidly and will fuel the churn of the next round of system selections.
Academic libraries considering migration mention Alma as one of their replacement candidates more than any other product, though interest in FOLIO continues to build.
Products with steady or rising satisfaction scores and high migration indicators include Ex Libris Aleph, Ex Libris Voyager, SirsiDynix Horizon, suggesting a higher likelihood that these libraries will choose thier next system from their incumbent vendor. Both Millennium and Sierra show diminishing satisfaction scores, high migration indicators, and diminishing company loyalty ratings, suggesting interest in moving away from the current vendor to other alternatives.
Libraries using traditional ILS products expressed varying levels of interest in migrating to new products. About 15 percent of those on currently supported products, including Symphony and Library.Solution, indicated they were looking for a new system.
Libraries using modern web-based products have little interest in changing systems. Biblionix Apollo received high satisfaction scores and very few libraries using it are considering alternatives. Even through their satisfaction ratings are not superlative, libraries using Ex Libris Alma and OCLC WorldShare Management Services expressed little interest in changing systems.
Open source products have been adopted in all library sectors. Both major open source ILS products, Koha and Evergreen, show increasing levels of satisfaction, with variance depending on support arrangements. Awareness of the FOLIO library services platform continues to increase with 104 libraries mentioning it among their migration candidates.

Several themes are evident in the last few editions of the perceptions survey. Large libraries of all types have complex requirements and evaluate their systems on a much harsher scale than smaller organizations. Presenting results without regard to size categories would give misleading impressions. Products designed for small libraries would not be sucessful among larger and more complex institutions, despite superlative ratings by the small libraries that use them.

Conventional integrated library systems dominate public libraries, with top scores going to proprietary products in the largest tier and to those based on commercially supported open source software in the mid-size category. Small and very small public libraries also favored proprietary ILS products. In the academic library sector, survey results reveal notable patterns regarding library services platforms. These products received strong marks in most categories but are not rated as highly for managing print resources than legacy ILS products. Small libraries give superlative scores--with little differentiation among question categories--to products able to meet their basic requirements without complex features they don't need.

(Library Technology Guides, March 5, 2020)

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Consolidation Takes a New Form: BiblioCommons Acquired by Constellation Software

BiblioCommons, a Toronto-based company providing a suite of applications and interfaces for public libraries, has been acquired by Volaris Group, one of six operating companies of Constellation Software, Inc. BiblioCommons has become established as a major force in the public library sector, and its products have been implemented by an impressive list of libraries and consortia in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. This transaction marks a departure from its status as a founder-owned company. Though BiblioCommons will continue to operate independently, it now falls under the ownership of a large multinational technology firm managing a diverse portfolio of technology and software companies. But unlike general private equity firms, Constellation has never sold the companies it acquires.

(Smart Libraries Newsletter, March 2020)

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OverDrive to Change Ownership

OverDrive, the largest commercial provider of e-books and other digital content to libraries, issued a Christmas Eve announcement of its pending change in ownership. The company's current owner Rakuten has entered into a definitive agreement to sell OverDrive to KKR, a major US-based investment firm. As digital lending continues its steady rise, this news sparks interest and raises questions for the library community.

(Smart Libraries Newsletter, February 2020)

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Caveat and Credit

Library Technology Guides was created and is edited by Marshall Breeding. He is solely responsible for all content on this site, and for any errors it may contain. Please notify him if you find any errors or omissions.

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April 19, 2021. The New York Public Library and The New York Institute for the Humanities launch partnership. The New York Public Library and The New York Institute for the Humanities, two storied New York City institutions dedicated to scholarship, discourse, and access to knowledge, have announced a partner ... <<more>>

April 19, 2021. Ravensbourne University London are now live with their new Koha open source library management system. Ravensbourne University London selected the Koha library management system, hosted and supported by PTFS Europe, to replace an existing SirsiDynix Symphony solution, in August 2020. We are pleased to ... <<more>>

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April 16, 2021. Equinox launches new website featuring open source library products, services, and education. Equinox Open Library Initiative proudly announces the launch of its newly designed website https://www.equinoxOLI.org, featuring open source library products, services, and educational resources. Equi ... <<more>>

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