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Library Systems Report 2018: New technologies enable an expanded vision of library services

Library Systems Report

The 2017 edition of the annual industry report that I have produced since 2002 has been published by American Libraries. The report is available online and in the May 2017 print issue. The 2002 through 2013 editions of this report were published by Library Journal.

Technologies that focus on supporting traditional library services no longer meet the needs of libraries that wish to strengthen their involvement in new service areas.

Academic libraries are looking beyond efficiencies in collection management or improvements in library-provided discovery services. Instead, they are addressing broader education needs by inserting relevant resources into platforms that support the curriculum and enhance their institutionsí research activities. Public libraries seek technologies that improve engagement with their communities. These libraries value reliable and feature-rich automation systems, and they are especially drawn to those that help them deliver compelling digital services. Basic library resource management and discovery capabilities no longer differentiate competitors in this market of mature products.

Library services platforms (LSPs) have been in use for more than half a decade and are a proven solution with products that continue to mature and evolve. The move from legacy products to an LSP may provide new efficiencies for internal library operations, but current models extend deeper into the academic enterprise.

A plethora of integrated library systems (ILS) with long lineages pervades the industry. In many respects these products have not only matured in functionality but have also adapted to changing expectations. The ILS continues to be the dominant solution for public, school, and special libraries, though it faces formidable challenges from LSPs in the academic library sphere.

In 2017, many ILS vendors devoted considerable development efforts to web-based interfaces. Many have evolved from earlier client-server technologies with graphic interfaces installed on the computers of staff members or service desks. The age of client-server computing has passed, and the transition to web interfaces is long overdue. Libraries seek fully web-based products without compromising the rich functionality and efficiencies embodied in legacy platforms. Itís unfortunate at this late phase of the cycle of cloud computing that development efforts are consumed in a lateral move toward new interfaces at the expense of innovations.

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May 2, 2018 09:22:59
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Perceptions 2018: An International Survey of Library Automation

Selected Survey Findings: Top Performers
Apollo led in all categories for very small public libraries and for all small public libraries except for electronic resource management. Apollo has been very well received by small public libraries and the narrative comments given are overwhelmingly positive.
ByWater Solutions, received top scores for its support for Koha from mid-sized public libraries in general satisfaction, ILS support, and company loyalty. Among Small Public Libraries, ByWater Solutions received top ratings for satisfaction with managing print resources. Koha with support from ByWater Solutions also received generally positive ratings from small academic libraries, though it didnít receive top scores. It is notable that Koha with support from ByWater Solutions has been implemented by both academic and public libraries and receives generally positive ratings in these diverse libraries contrary to the trend toward specialization by library type.
Symphony from SirsiDynix, for the second year in a row, received top scores among large public libraries and large academic libraries for customer support. It is notable that even through Symphony receives weaker marks by large academic libraries in categories related to functionality, SirsiDynix receives very positive ratings for its support services.
Polaris received top rankings among large public libraries for general satisfaction, overall functionality, print resource management, electronic resource management, and company loyalty; they ranked Innovative's support servicdes less positively.
Alma from Ex Libris continues to be evaluated as the top performer among large and mid-sized academic libraries for general ILS satisfaction, overall functionality, end effectiveness in managing electronic resources. Alma receives weaker scores for its management of print resources. For large and mid-sized academic libraries, Ex Libris received top company loyalty scores for its three products: Alma, Aleph, and Voyager.
OPALS, an open source ILS developed by MediaFlex, received highest scores in all categories among school and small academic libraries. The narrative comments voiced unanimous support for the capabilities of the software and especially for the implementation and support services.

I have posted the results the twelfth annual survey of data collected on how libraries rate their current integrated library system, the company involved, and the quality of customer support. Perceptions 2018: an international survey of library automation gives the general conclusions and presents all the statistical results derived from the survey. As usual, some of the most interesting and valuable information can be found in the comments offered by responders.

"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. 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 interesting patterns regarding the newer generation of library services platforms. These products received strong marks in most categories but are perceived as less capable 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."

Just as I did for the previous editions survey, I created an interactive tool for viewing the statistical summaries and comments. The main tables in the article show statistics only for those products that had more than 15 survey responses. You can use the ILS Product Report to view the statistics on any of the products mentioned in the survey and to read the comments about that system, even if the number of responses did not meet the threshold. The comments that display have been edited to remove any text that identifies the individual or institution, preserving the anonymity of the responders. The narrative data in the comments largely corroborate the statistical responses and makes for interesting reading.

Feb 11, 2019 16:59:47
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