Ex Libris, a global company that provides automation products to large research libraries in many geographic regions, has made two business maneuvers in recent months that bring previously independent distributors into its corporate fold.
Most recently, Ex Libris acquired the library division of Fujitsu Services A/S, which served as its exclusive distributor in Denmark and Sweden. Ex Libris has a very large presence among the national and large academic libraries in this region, including the Royal Library of Denmark, the Royal Library of Sweden, the National Library of the Faroe Islands, and a number of large networks of libraries, some nationwide in scope. These libraries previously worked through Fujitsu Services A/S for sales and support. Following this acquisition, they will interact directly with support facilities provided directly by Ex Libris.
Parallel to this acquisition, a new office, Ex Libris Scandinavia, will be created to support the 200 libraries formerly serviced by Fujitsu Services A/S. This office, located in Ballerup, Denmark, will report to Marc Daubach, Ex Libris Corporate VP and general manager for the company's European operations.
This move does not necessarily represent a significant expansion for Ex Libris since it involves customers already using its products. Rather, it removes an intermediary organization, providing the opportunity for better control in the way it provides support and other services for these libraries. A similar transaction took place in July 2009 when Ex Libris acquired Atlantis S.R.L., its distributor for Italy and Slovenia, which had been representing its interests in those countries. Ex Libris Italy, which will be led by former Atlantis Chief Operating Officer and marketing director Liliana Morotti, was subsequently opened. About 70 libraries in Italy and Slovenia make use of Ex Libris products.
These two business events demonstrate Ex Libris' increasing preference to work less through the intermediaries of distributors and to interact with the libraries that use its products more directly. While Ex Libris has a long history of successfully working through distributors, operating through wholly owned subsidiaries provides more opportunities for efficiency and allows the company to have more control over support and marketing operations.
On other fronts, Ex Libris announced that the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford has selected its Aleph ILS to replace the Advance system currently in use. One of the major libraries in the world, Oxford supports the largest university library system in the United Kingdom. Progress continues on the development of Primo Central, the extension of the company's strategic discovery platform to provide a large, centrally-hosted and managed index of article-level content. In Jan 2010 Ex Libris announced that the product is currently live at 14 different libraries serving as beta test partners.