Axiell, one of the major global companies providing technology products and services to libraries, archives, and museums, continues to expand. In North America, Axiell is better known for its technology products for archives and museums than for library systems. The company offers a diverse set of technology products, operating divisions for public libraries, for the broader archives, libraries, and museums (ALM) sector, for educational platforms, and for e-books and other digital media. In recent months, the company has made two strategic acquisitions to strengthen its position in libraries and other business areas.
In October 2016, Axiell acquired BiBer GmbH, one of the major companies offering library automation products and services to libraries in Germany and Switzerland. BiBer GmbH was founded in 1992 and is based in Mülheim an der Ruhr, Germany. It operates an additional office in Hochheim am Main. The company develops and supports the BIBDIA integrated library system, which has been adopted by around 160 libraries spanning 320 branches, primarily in Germany with a smaller presence in Switzerland. BIBDIA has been implemented mostly by public libraries, though some school and special libraries have adopted the system.
BiBer GmbH will continue to operate independently as a wholly owned business of Axiell Group. Frank Gräfe, Managing Director of BiBer GmbH, and other executives and personnel will continue in their existing roles. The company will continue to develop and support BIBDIA and its other established products. BiBer will expand its offerings with the new Quria library services platform, currently under development by Axiell. For more information on Quria, see the October issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter.
Axiell has also acquired the vital records of Gold Systems. Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, Gold Systems has developed the VITA Vital Records Application and offers services to organizations to assist with the creation of registries. These registries are populated with data such as births, deaths, marriages, divorces, and other life events.
Gold Systems was founded in 1989 by Steve Gold, who along with Jeff Greenland will join Axiell following the acquisition. This transaction involved only the Vital Records division of Gold Systems. The company will continue to operate divisions involved in Environmental Services, Aviation Safety Services, Emergency Management, and Health and Human Services. Gold Systems also recently launched LearningZen (learningzen.com), an online training platform.
This move supports the increasing diversification of Axiell in its business areas related to governmental and cultural institutions outside the library sphere. An increasing portion of Axiell's business activities are focused on archives, museums, and other related organizations.
A chronology of Axiell's recent business acquisitions includes:
- October 2016: Vital Records Division of Gold Systems
- October 2016: BiBer GmbH, a German company offering the BIBDIA library management system used in Germany and Switzerland
- May 2016: Mobydoc, the major provider of management systems to museums in France
- March 2015: Elib, a Swedish e-book distribution company
- April 2014: KE Software, an Australian company with software and services for museums and archives
- November 2013: Selago Design, a Canadian firm producing the Mimsy XG collection management and user interfaces for museums
- August 2013: Atingo, which is not an acquisition, but a new startup created with Publit to offer e-book lending services
- March 2013: Adlib, a global company that produces versions of Adlib for archives, museums, and libraries
- April 2008: DS, a United Kingdom-based company offering the Open Galaxy library management system, the CALM archives management system, and a co-developer with Axiell of the Arena discovery tool
Axiell Biblioteksystem AB was founded in 1985. A complex series of mergers and acquisitions began in 2001, which consolidated the major companies and library automation products used in Finland, Denmark, and Sweden, culminating in the formation of Axiell Group in 2008.
Axiell's library business has seen both wins and losses over recent years. Axiell has been the leading provider of automation systems to public and school libraries in Denmark. The majority of these have committed to implementing a new automation system nation-wide called Fælles Bibliotekssystem. In a process managed by KOMBIT, an organization that manages information technology products for various government sectors in Denmark, Systematic is developing and deploying this new automation system for public libraries and schools. Axiell continues to support these libraries in the interim. Axiell is also a key library technology provider in Finland. The company recently announced that a major new consortium has been formed to extend and consolidate implementations of its Aurora library management system. The public libraries in the regions of South Ostrobothnia, Ostrobothnia, and Central Ostrobothnia have previously used Aurora independently, but will now consolidate into a single consortial implementation and have signed a three-year contract with Axiell. Some public libraries in Finland have committed to the implementation of the open source Koha integrated library system. Axiell continues to provide its library management systems to about 75 percent of the public libraries in Finland (see figure 1).
Axiell has expanded its efforts to increase its presence in other European countries. Its investment in the development of Spark, a set of web-based interfaces to modernize its Open Galaxy library management in the United Kingdom, aims to reinforce its position in that country. Quria is intended to provide a forward migration path for libraries using its established products, and also to help it expand into countries where it has not previously offered library management products. The broad set of countries in which it has customers for its RFID and other products can be seen as opportunities to market Quria. According to Sven Totté, Managing Director of Axiell Public Libraries, “Our growth ambition in Europe for [the] Public Library is driven by technology shifts and consolidation in these markets, where we see that the established local smaller players cannot satisfy the needs of the Public Library space. And Axiell Quria is the library platform we use to achieve this growth over time.”
Due to its diversification and expansion of its other business divisions, Axiell has seen strong growth in recent years. According to the company's 2015 annual report, global revenues have increased steadily:
- 2012: 326 million Swedish Krona (SEK) (about US $35.4 million)
- 2013: 340 million SEK (about US$ 37 million)
- 2014: 406 million SEK (about US$ 44.2 million)
- 2015: 512 million SEK (about US$ 55.7 million)
Axiell reports that it employs around 310 personnel in 24 countries with customers in 55 countries. The company rightly asserts that it is now the largest privately owned library technology company in Europe. In the global industry, Axiell ranks in size below ProQuest/Ex Libris, SirsiDynix, Innovative Interfaces, OCLC, Follett, and EBSCO Information Services. As the company continues to expand and diversify, Axiell is an important company in the global library technology industry, even though its brand is not well established in North America.