I'm fortunate to have the opportunity to travel overseas to see firsthand how libraries worldwide make use of technology, learning about companies and products not well known in the United States. The realm of library technologies encompasses an interesting mix of internationally-oriented companies with products deployed throughout the world and others that focus on specific regions or countries. Interesting and innovative technologies can be seen in either context, making it worthwhile to stay abreast of developments internationally as well as domestically. Even if some of the specific products may not be available to readers in the United States, it is always helpful to be aware of the broadest array of possibilities.
In my recent visit to Ireland, I learned more about some of the developments brewing for the public libraries in the country. Consistent with a trend that I have observed in other international regions, work is underway to establish a shared library automation infrastructure at the national level. Currently, each of the 32 county or municipal library services operates separate integrated library systems, provided by a variety of different vendors.
Northern Ireland has already implemented a shared automation environment for all its public libraries. As reported in the July 2013 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter, Libraries NI formed through the consolidation of four regional library services. Initially joining a shared OpenGalaxy automation system from Axiell, Libraries NI has contracted with Fujitsu to provide a shared technology infrastructure for all the libraries in the country, with SirsiDynix providing Symphony as the library management component.
It was extremely interesting to learn more about how libraries in Colombia are developing their technology strategies. In the public libraries, managed by the National Library, individual computers in each library use an integrated library system developed in Mexico called SIABUC. The National Library is currently exploring alternatives to bring the libraries into a network, including the possibilities of a shared or distributed automation environment. Many of the 1,400 public libraries are located in small towns in very isolated areas. The challenges of shared infrastructure are immense, but also come with enormous benefits not only for more efficient models of automation, but especially in providing the residents of these remote areas with resources far beyond what might be available in their local library.
In Denmark, I've been following the project to implement shared library management. Following an extensive procurement process, a contract was recently signed with Dantek to provide an automation system that will be adopted by 88 of the public library services, representing 90 percent of the population of the country. I anticipate writing about this important project as I learn more details and implementation commences.
These are just a few of the many examples of models of deployment of integrated library systems in different international regions. They certainly fall within the trend that I observe toward shared implementations encompassing ever larger numbers of libraries. The scalability of computing and network systems available today seems to redefine the practical limits of how libraries band together to share technical infrastructure, collections, and services.
Developments in the library e-book lending arena in other international regions lend perspective to US practices. In the August 2013 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter, we took a look at OdiloTID and its technology platform for e-book lending that emerged in Spain. This month, we shift to Sweden for a glimpse of Atingo, a new company that was quite recently formed to offer library e-book lending based on business model of transaction fees.