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:
Clarivate to Acquire ProQuest
The commercial landscape that includes the scholarly communications sector and library systems and services will take new form with the proposed acquisition of ProQuest by Clarivate, a large publicly traded company with diverse products and services spanning the scientific research and intellectual property sectors. This $5.3 billion transaction is the largest by far in the library sector.
(Smart Libraries Newsletter, July 2021)
Smart Libraries Q&A
I would be interested in how changes in library software design and use will impact the future of library technology staff. Until recently, my title was systems librarian. I have held systems librarian positions in public, law, and medical libraries. Both the law and medical libraries were downsized, and neither place retained the systems librarian position. Has this title already morphed into something different?
(Smart Libraries Newsletter, July 2021)
Private Equity Firm Francisco Partners to Acquire VitalSource Technologies
Ingram Content Group has entered into a definitive agreement to divest VitalSource Technologies LLC, its business dedicated to electronic textbooks and technologies for the creation of educational resources for academic institutions, corporations, and related organizations. Francisco Partners, a private equity investment firm focused on technology-based companies, has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire VitalSource Technologies. The agreement was signed in April 2021 and is expected to close later in the year.
(Smart Libraries Newsletter, June 2021)
Library Systems Report 2021: Advancing library technologies in challenging times
In a year complicated by a global pandemic, the community of vendors providing technologies to libraries made important strides to meet pressing needs and make ongoing progress in their longer-term initiatives. Though the pandemic disrupted library services—as well as funding—in 2020, concerted efforts were made to fulfill the demands of users to the extent possible. Almost all vendors made sharp turns to expand access to digital collections and services in order to compensate for diminished access to physical materials. Only a few minor acquisitions took place in this deeply consolidated industry last year. Unlike in 2019, none of these transactions altered the overall balance of power among competitors. Vendors made extraordinary efforts to help customer libraries cope with changed services while they continued product development agendas looking beyond current circumstances.
(American Libraries, May 1, 2021)
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.
|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)
Innovative Interfaces Introduces Vega
Innovative Interfaces, following its acquisition by ProQuest, has begun to articulate and execute new product strategies to strengthen its position in the industry. The company aims to move forward following a period of under-investment in product development, as seen in recent years. Polaris and Sierra will continue as strategic ILS products, complemented by new patron-facing interfaces and services.
(Smart Libraries Newsletter, March 2021)
Smarter Libraries through Technology: Consolidation in the Library Materials Management Sector
The commercial realm of materials management incorporates a broad array of technologies that assist libraries with their physical collections and spaces. The traditional core products in this sector enable self-service borrowing of library materials, antitheft or security technologies, and automated materials handling, which includes automated returns, conveyers, and sorting machinery. This technology sector increasingly diverges into new areas that expand libraries' engagement with users within their physical facilities and creating bridges to digital content and services.
(Smart Libraries Newsletter, February 2021)
Lyngsoe Systems Acquires P.V. Supa
he business sector providing automated technologies for physical library materials continues to consolidate. Lyngsoe Systems, one of the major players in this space has acquired P.V. Supa, one of its competitors. P.V. Supa had acquired 2CQR in 2017. Even as it expands, Lyngsoe Systems remains smaller than bibliotheca, the largest global business in this sector
(Smart Libraries Newsletter, February 2021)
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)
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.