Library Technology Guides

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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 2024: Results of the sixteenth International Survey of Library Automation

Notable Observations
Libraries show strong interest in products from Clarivate Library Software Group. The migration intentions given by libraries using legacy products mention Alma more than other products. Polaris was listed as the top migration candidate by libraries using Symphony and Horizon.
Several legacy products are approaching the end of their lifecycle. Installations of Aleph and Voyager from Ex Libis, part of Clarivate Library Software Group, are decreasing rapidly and the products, though they continue to be supported. Millennium and Virtua installations have declined even more drastically. Almost all libraries using these products have processes underway to move to new systems.
Interest continues to build for open source products, especially FOLIO and Koha. The migration intentions given by libraries using legacy products mention FOLIO more than any other product except Alma. Open source products are a routine option for public and school libraries as well. Both Koha and Evergreen show high levels of satisfaction, though some support providers receive higher scores than others. As ever larger libraries implement open source products, the satisfaction scores may decrease given the harsher scoring of large libraries. OPALS used mostly in school and very small academic libraries, earns superlative scores. Narrative comments suggested that many libraries avoid open source products due to a perception that they would need more staff with technical skills.
About 5 percent of academic libraries signal interest in migrating to a new system, mostly from those remaining on legacy ILS products, but also from those that have been using a library service platform for a decade that are reviewing options. Academic libraries showed increasing interest in migrating from 2007 through 2014, with steadily declining interest since. The launch of Alma and WorldShare Management Services in 2011 sparked great interest, which peaked in 2015. After that year the percent of academic libraries considering migrating diminished as large portions of these libraries had moved to a library services platform and were well occupied in implementing and optimizing those new installations. With FOLIO now established as a viable option, academic libraries that were previously deferring migration considerations may now be in play.
The satisfaction scores given to Alma are moderate, consistent with those given by large and complex libraries. Only a handful of libraries indicate interest in changing to another product. Of libraries considering migrating from legacy products, Alma continues to be listed as the top migration candidate, followed by FOLIO. Alma receives higher marks for its functionality for the management of electronic resources than for print. Since academic libraries generally spend most of their collection budgets on electronic resources, weaker capabilities for managing print does not seem to detract substantially from the overall satisfaction levels for Alma.
The portion of public libraries considering system replacement has declined steadily since the first year of the survey. The high interest among public libraries in migration during the early years of the survey was driven by the industry turmoil. Since about 2015, public library interest in migrations has steadily declined, possibly due to the lack of compelling alternatives. This year only 3.3 percent of public libraries expressed interest in changing systems. The proprietary and open source ILS products used by public libraries are mature and increasingly less differentiated. Many public libraries are opting to acquire additional components for discovery, patron engagement, or analytics, rather than make a lateral move to another ILS product.

No library management product can be expected to work well for all libraries. Public, academic, school, and special libraries each have distinctive characteristics relative to the types of material in their collections and in the services they provide. The type, size, and overall complexity are important factors when considering the technology products and services best suited for any given library. Accordingly, this survey segments responses into categories determined by library type and collection size to assess each product within relevant peer groups. Each annual survey provides a snapshot of the perceived capabilities of each product, and uses results from previous years to identify trends regarding the satisfaction and performance of the products their vendors.

The satisfaction ratings and narrative comments gauge library reactions surrounding the broader events in the industry, such as consolidation, open source initiatives, and the decline of legacy products. Earlier years of the survey, for example, reflected the negative impact the private equity acquisitions on SirsiDynix and Innovative. More recently survey responses inferred that libraries reacted mostly positively to ProQuest acquiring Ex Libris and Innovative from their previous private equity owners. The last two years of the survey reflect whether or not library satisfaction of the products of Ex Libris and Innovative are different under the ownership of Clarivate.

Survey responses give a glimpse into ongoing migration trends. Academic libraries are shifting away from integrated library systems to library services platforms, with Ex Libris Alma leading the pack, followed by OCLC WorldShare Management Services. FOLIO has fully entered the competition, with survey results showing strong interest. As the number of libraries that have implemented FOLIO increase, the survey can begin to reflect the levels of satisfaction and capabilities of this new open source library services platform. Public libraries show substantially different patterns, with lower levels of interest in migrating to new systems.

Several themes pervade all 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 successful among larger and more complex institutions, despite superlative ratings by the small libraries that use them.

In the current environment, the capabilities of the product and the quality of services from the vendor matter more than license models. Both open source and proprietary products are well regarded by libraries. Conventional integrated library systems prevail in 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 gave excellent marks to proprietary 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. 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.

(Library Technology Guides, May 5, 2024)

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2024 Library Systems Report: Companies focus on developing practical solutions

2024 Library Systems Report: Companies focus on developing practical solutions

The library technology industry had a quiet year in 2023. But in the absence of major business moves and acquisitions, companies set their sights on executing strategies to strengthen their market position.

Previous cycles of business consolidation have yielded a layered landscape with distinct levels of competition. At the top, a handful of large organizations with considerable resources—Clarivate, EBSCO Information Services, Follett School Solutions, and OCLC—continue to expand their portfolios, covering multiple business sectors and library types. Middle-tier companies, including Axiell, ByWater Solutions, The Library Corporation (TLC), and SirsiDynix, offer growing suites of products used by thousands of libraries. And finally, a group of smaller companies round out the industry, covering specialized libraries with niche products and services.

Competition at each level remains vigorous. Libraries may have fewer product choices because of past acquisitions, but the options remaining are distinctive. Most libraries can choose between for-profit and nonprofit vendors, and between proprietary and open source products. For instance, academic libraries can pick from a short list of library services platforms (LSPs), including a proprietary solution from a for-profit company (Alma), an open source product supported by for-profit companies (FOLIO), or a proprietary product from a nonprofit organization (WorldShare Management Services).

Libraries see their technology vendors as strategic partners. They are increasingly purchasing core products from a single provider, rewarding companies' efforts to create suites of integrated applications that function more efficiently than mix-and-match offerings. These days, libraries expect third-party integration from their products—but they generally acquire new components from a single main vendor.

(American Libraries, May 1, 2024)

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Project Reshare and OpenRS: differing approaches to open source resource sharing

Project Reshare and OpenRS: differing approaches to open source resource sharing

In recent months, a schism has erupted in the open source resource sharing realm. Two open source resource sharing projects that previously resided within a single organization have separated, due not only to the differing functional models of their products, but also because of differences in styles of collaboration. Launched in 2018, Project ReShare has been advancing an open source platform for resource sharing, created collaboratively among a community of interested libraries and vendors. Project ReShare continues with its mission to strengthen its resource sharing community and to continue to enhance and support its platform. The organization is also refining its organizational structure and articulating its values and community processes. OpenRS, was launched in 2023 as a new initiative to develop, support, and promote a new open source direct consortial borrowing solution. Though a relatively new project, OpenRS moves forward with a well defined development agenda, backed by two commercial vendors, EBSCO Information Services and Knowledge Integration, with substantial involvement of MOBIUS as its first planned implementor.

(Library Technology Newsletter, December 2023)

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Looking Toward the Next Phase of Library Systems

Looking Toward the Next Phase of Library Systems

Libraries have benefited from technology systems for more than half a century. Computerized systems were developed to automate circulation, cataloging, serials, and other library activities in the mid-to-late 1970s, with some earlier precursors. Since that time, library systems have continuously evolved, driven by the advances in technology architectures, changes in the operational priorities of libraries, and the business environment. These factors will continue to shape future generations of library systems.

(Computers in Libraries, March 2022)

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Axiell acquires Infor Library and Information Solutions

In a move that further consolidates the global library technology industry, Axiell has entered into an agreement to acquire the Library and Information Solutions division of Infor. This deal will add the V-smart integrated library system and related products to Axiell's already extensive portfolio of library technology products. The scale of the transaction is modest but impacts libraries across many countries and regions. At the time of the announcement, Infor reported 180 library customers. V-smart is a well-established product in the Benelux region, with many customers in Belgium and The Netherlands as well as in Switzerland, France, and Greece. Beyond Europe, V-Smart has been implemented by libraries in the United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, and in the United States.

(Library Technology Newsletter, January 2022)

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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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