Although not a product that will be marketed in the United States in the near future, Axiell's Quria will be designed to accommodate the requirements of modern public libraries increasingly involved in digital delivery of content and services and will be based on current technologies. Axiell aims for Quria to help libraries cope with the shifts they are making toward digital services.
Axiell's development of Quria stands out as the first library services platform created especially for public libraries. The design of the product fully adheres to the model of the library services platform, in that it has comprehensive resource management that spans digital and print resources and the product is deployed through a multi-tenant platform with native web interfaces for staff workflows and patron discovery. Other products oriented to public libraries have evolved from traditional ILSs with large remnants of older technical architectures and resource management workflows. Although Quria remains in its development phase, it warrants attention to discern whether the library services model can succeed in the public library sector to the extent that it has for academic libraries.
Axiell, as one of the larger companies in the library technology industry, has a reasonable level of resources to take on the development of such an ambitious project. As of the end of 2015, Axiell reported a total of 274 personnel, with 85 devoted to software development. Axiell's most recent company brochure states 290 personnel employed. Axiell is somewhat smaller than other companies such as Ex Libris (615 personnel), SirsiDynix (416), and Innovative (329).
The current state of early development of this new product from Axiell does not afford the opportunity to gain external information about Quria. At this point, we can describe the design of the product and the ambitions that Axiell has for it. This coverage is not unlike what was given to the Kuali OLE project in 2010, Ex Libris Alma in 2011, or our recent feature on the new EBSCO-sponsored open source initiative. Such an early glimpse at a product, however promising, must thereafter be tracked in subsequent reports regarding the extent to which it meets expectations.
Consistent with the focus of Axiell's library division, Quria has been designed specifically for public libraries, whose needs differ substantially from those serving academic and research organizations. The company has acquired and continues to develop and support a number of ILSs for the public library sector. Each of these products was developed during the era when public libraries were primarily concerned with print materials and prior to the current age of web-based technologies.
Quria's functionality will be built around a fresh view of operational needs of public libraries. Developing a product from scratch means recreating some aspects of functionality that may already exist within the company's existing products. But the major changes that public libraries have experienced in recent years may warrant a fresh look at the requirements and workflows without the constraints imposed by traditional ILSs.
In contrast to the current genre of ILSs, Quria first addresses the digital services of a library, although it will also offer functionality needed for the management and circulation of print resources. Quria aims to help libraries better manage and provide access to their digital offerings in addition to their print materials, providing an environment for comprehensive resource management. Many public libraries now manage collections of digital assets and Axiell expects even more involvement over time. These libraries also offer programs and events, both within their facilities and online. Management of these digital materials has been addressed with the core of the system, rather than as add-on functionality. The platform aims to provide the means for more effective communication and engagement between the library and its patrons. Quria will include a customer service module, bringing to libraries the customer relationship management approach that has been a widely adopted by other business and non-profit sectors.
Public libraries see increasing demand for the lending of e-books and other digital materials. Addressing this need ranks as a very high priority for public libraries anxious to provide the easiest possible mechanisms for patrons to discover, select, and download e-books to their devices in a way that retains the identity and branding of the library.
Axiell has previously developed Arena as a patron-facing portal for its various resource management products. Arena will likewise work with Quria, but it will also offer its own patron interfaces.
Axiell is well positioned for the integration of e-books and other digital media via its eHUB platform, which aggregates digital materials from a variety of distributors. Agreements have been in place since October 2015 with both OverDrive and OneClickDigital, and the technical integration has been implemented to provide content from these platforms via its Arena patron portal.
In March 2015, Axiell acquired majority ownership of Elib, the largest distributor of downloadable e-books and streaming audiobooks. Elib was previously jointly owned by the four largest Swedish publishing firms. In April 2016, Elib was rebranded as Axiell Media. (See July 2015 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter).
Quria will include a variety of built-in statistical and analytical capabilities to support the building and promotion of library collections. Traditional ILSshave offered a variety of reports, but libraries increasingly need more advanced decision- support tools offering capabilities of business analytics.
This new system will be positioned to strengthen Axiell's offerings for public libraries. Axiell executives state that Quria is being developed for the global public library sector and not necessarily tied to the specific needs of the libraries within its traditional geographic territory of Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. The company will initially focus its efforts for Quria on public libraries in countries where library automation products have not been widely adopted, especially France and Norway. While Axiell is one of the major suppliers of RFID products in Norway, its ILSs have not been offered there. Quria will also be a forward migration platform for its various ILSs used in the United Kingdom, Finland, Sweden, and Denmark.
Axiell is developing Quria as a completely new platform, not based on the technology of any of its many existing products. This approach of starting afresh gives the company the opportunity to take advantage of current technology architectures, components, and development methodologies. Although Axiell has not provided the details of the components which comprise its new platform, the company has given a general outline of its broad technical vision.
Quria has been designed for deployment via software-as-a-service, based on a multi-tenant platform. All users of the service will share the same codebase. The platform will include a relatively small infrastructure layer that will provide common supporting services. Other mostly autonomous subsystems will operate on top of this lower-level integration platform. This design will enable Axiell to add or switch out components as needed to update or expand functionality. All interfaces for the product will be provided via Web browsers. No additional software will be needed on the computers of library personnel who operate the system or by patrons. As a fully hosted multi-tenant platform, no local servers will be required in the libraries.
Given Axiell's involvement with libraries and archives in many regions, Quria will be designed for global deployment. In addition to distributed infrastructure support, it will be configurable according to language and functionality differences for each country or region in which it is offered. Individual users of the platform will be able to set personalized configuration options for the workflows related to their areas of activity for the library.
Developing the platform anew will also enable Axiell to incorporate modern approaches to data and metadata. Approaches to defining and describing resources can be defined apart from established or traditional structures. Linked data, which has gained ever increasing interest by libraries, will be part of its foundation. In Quria, Axiell has embraced a policy of open data, enabling mechanisms for importing and exporting data from other sources, including other libraries and business partners. The company has also tapped the expertise of Factor10, an external software development firm for specific aspects of development and design. The majority of the development will be performed by Axiell's own development team.
Deployment and Marketing Plan
Axiell will initially focus on marketing Quria to libraries in the United Kingdom, Norway, and France. The company has not previously sold its public library systems in France and Norway; its OpenGalaxy ILS continues to hold a strong position in the United Kingdom. The recent acquisition of Mobydoc, a company which produces software for museums reflects Axiell's recent interest in France as a potential new opportunity for its products. The company is already working with at least two libraries as test partners for the functionality and usability of Quria. The group of test partners will expand in coming weeks.
Axiell is working toward commercial availability of Quria in 2017.
Axiell Trend: A New Analytics and Reporting Tool
Responding to the need that libraries have for more sophisticated tools to manage their operations, Axiell UK has launched a new data analytics service called Trend. Deployed via a web-based service, Trend incorporates a methodology often referred to as “big data,” continually harvesting raw data from the organizations ILS, which are then processed and analyzed to identify trends and to respond to questions or queries to support operational decisions.
The analytics provided with Trend are especially oriented to helping public libraries measure and improve the services it provides to their communities. It includes a variety of pre-configured reports oriented to common operational issues, as well as the ability to dynamically create specialized queries. The analytics from Trend can be used to identify patterns and relationships in library collections materials, creating the ability to automatically generate recommendations that can be offered as a patron views an item in the online catalog.
Trend also helps the library manage its collections, providing data to support acquisitions decisions or weeding efforts. Since the data warehouse on the Trend spans many libraries, libraries can benchmark their operations with selected peer organizations.
Trend can operate with any of the ILSs offered by Axiell. Its specific technical details and tools available vary according to the country-specific ILS products.
Axiell Corporate Background
Axiell is based in Lund, Sweden. In recent years, the company has expanded beyond its original base in Scandinavia and the United Kingdom, especially as it has acquired companies that produce archives or museum technologies involved in other global regions. Axiell currently has institutional customers in 55 countries. One of the larger companies in the library technology industry, Axiell employs a workforce of around 300 individuals. Axiell currently does not have a presence in North America for its primary library products, though its archival and museums products are used in North American cultural organizations.
Axiell publishes its overall financials in its publicly available annual report. In 2015, the company saw total revenue of 485.9 million SEC or $59.47 million dollars.
(See the April 2013 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter for more details on Axiell, especially its acquisition of Adlib Information Systems.)
Axiell currently organizes its business into the following divisions:
- Axiell Public Library, which maintains and develops the diverse set of ILSs and discovery interfaces itemized below and leads the development of Quria as the company's forthcoming flagship library services platform. This is the largest corporate division of Axiell.
- Axiell Education, which produces tools for educational institutions.
- Axiell Media (formerly Elib), which is a major producer and distributor of e-books and audiobooks.
- Axiell Archives, Libraries, and Museum, which offers a variety of products for management and access to collections in museums or archives. Products include CALM, Adlib Museum, Adlib Archves, Emu, Mimsy, and various museum management products of Mobydoc.
Axiell continues to expand through business acquisitions. Consistent with its recent acquisitions, which expand its global presence in technologies for museums and archives, Axiell acquired Mobydoc in May of 2016. Mobydoc operates primarily in France, providing collection management systems for museums, and is the leading vendor among the 1,200 French national museums (Musées de France). This acquisition is the latest in a sequence of business transactions that has built a large company with a product portfolio that is diverse both geographically and in the types of organizations addressed.
- 1985: Axiell Biblioteksystem AB founded
- 2001: Axiell Bibliotek AB formed through merger of Axiell Biblioteksystem AB and BTJ System AB
- 2004: Axiell acquires CSC's Consulting Group's Library Section
- 2007: Axiell acquires TietoEnator Libraries Oy
- Jan 2008: Company reorganized into Axiell Library Group
- Apr 2008: Axiell acquires DS
- Mar 2013: Axiell acquires Adlib Information Systems
- Apr 2014: Axiell acquires KE Software
- Oct 2014: Axiell acquires Selago Design
- Mar 2015: Axiell acquires Elib e-book distributor
- May 2016: Axiell acquires Mobydoc
Axiell Library Products
- Axiell Arena: A discovery interface initially introduced in 2007 to provide not only online catalog features, but also other website components. Arena was designed to work across its resource management products for libraries, archives, and museums.
- BOOK-IT: An ILS developed by Axiell and used primarily by public libraries in Sweden.
- OpenGalaxy: Originally developed by the United Kingdom company DS, which was acquired by Axiell in 2008. This ILS is currently used by over 40 library services in the UK. Axiell recently launched a major revision of OpenGalaxy branded as Spark.
- Axiell Aurora: An ILS with Web-based interfaces developed by Axiell based on the Libra and used primary in Finland.
- Libra: The Libra family of ILSs has distinct versions for Sweden and Finland:
- Libra.se (Sweden)
- Libra.fi (Finland)
- DDElibra: Originally developed by Dansk Data Electronic and is used by around 80 public libraries in Denmark. Despite the similarity in names, DDElibra is a distinct product from Libra.se and Libra.fi.
- PallasPro: An ILS supported by Axiell and used by public libraries in Finland.
- Origo: An ILS originally created by Akateeminen Tietopalvelu ATP Oy, which was acquired by Axiell in 2008 and used primarily by public libraries in Finland.
- Adlib Library: An ILS developed by Adlib, which is used primarily in special libraries.
In addition to these products for libraries, Axiell offers a variety of products for archives and museums:
- CALM: A product for the management of archival and museum collections originally developed in collaboration with DS, which it later acquired.
- Adlib Museum: A system for managing museum collections developed by Adlib Information Systems, acquired by Axiell in 2013.
- Adlib Archive: A system for managing archival collections developed by Adlib Information Services, which was acquired by Axiell in 2013.
- EMu: A collections management system, the leading product for Natural History collections. The solution was developed by KE Software, which was acquired by Axiell in 2014.
- Mimsy XG: This product is focused on managing collections for cultural history and multi-disciplinary collecting institutions. Mimsy was developed by Selago design and acquired in 2014.
In recent years, Axiell has seen both gains and losses in its library business. The company has held a dominant position among the public libraries in Denmark with its DDElibra ILS. The public and school libraries in Demark are currently in the process of implementing a new national system, Fælles Bibliotekssystem, being created by a competing company Systematic. To date only a small number of libraries have transitioned to the new system, with the vast majority remaining on DDElibra. Within the next year, the remaining libraries are scheduled to migrate to Fælles Bibliotekssystem. In Finland, about one fourth of the public libraries (176 out of 700) are planning to implement the open source Koha ILS by the end of 2016, moving primarily from ILS products from Axiell. Despite these losses, Axiell continues to make gains in its overall business, reporting increased revenue and customers year over year. Axiell has especially seen gains in its museums and archives products. The launch of Quria provides the potential for Axiell to expand its library business with a newly designed product in a global field of public library products that struggle to evolve form their legacy roots.