Library Technology Guides

Document Repository

Smart Libraries Newsletter

Lucidea Acquires Eloquent Systems

Smart Libraries Newsletter [November 2017]


In a move that further consolidates the technology sector for special libraries and archives, Lucidea has acquired Eloquent Systems. Eloquent specializes in providing digital asset management products for archives, libraries, and museums. The company is based in Vancouver, Canada and will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Lucidea.

Eloquent Systems was founded by Merv Richter in 1975 and was one of the longest standing companies in the library automation industry owned by its founder. Richter worked for IBM for eight years before launching the company in 1975 under the name Easy Data. The company developed software for microcomputers, which were just then gaining use for business applications. The company developed several products, including an ILS that was implemented in many corporate libraries. Easy Data was acquired by Sydney Development Corporation in 1982. Richter continued as the president of the subsidiary operating his former company and as a director of Sydney Development Corporation. Richter resigned from Sydney in 1985 and launched Eloquent Systems, Inc. in 1987 to carry forward his business activities.

Eloquent Systems developed products to help archives, libraries, and related organizations manage physical and digital assets. The original product GENCAT (for General CATalog) was a flexible record management system based on a MultiValue Database, one of the several descendants of the Pick operating system. The current generation of the company's technology, the WebGENCAT platform, is based on the jBase, an implementation of the MultiValue database, with an application layer developed in C and with a communications layer implemented as a Java servlet in Apache Tomcat. Web- GENCAT underlies each of the company's products: Eloquent Archives, Eloquent Library, Eloquent Museum, and Eloquent Records. Each product has been customized to meet the needs of its target organization type.

Following the sale of Eloquent to Lucidea, Richter has retired from the profession.

Lucidea, privately owned by Ron Aspe, ranks as the largest competitor offering technology solutions to special libraries and information centers. The company has expanded over the last decade through a series of business acquisitions. The company traces its initial history through SydneyPLUS International, which was rebranded as Lucidea as it made a series of acquisitions and wanted a neutral identity to house its multiple brands.

SydneyPLUS International shares some common threads of its early history with Eloquent Systems. Sydney Development Corporation acquired Easy Data, and its software became the basis of the ILS initially offered by Sydney Development Corporation and later by SydneyPLUS after its separation from its original parent company. The SydneyPLUS software was substantially reengineered over its product history, culminating in the current SydneyEnterprise platform. Eloquent developed the webGENCAT platform independently from the original Easy Data product. It is notable, however, that these two companies that overlapped in the 1970s have now come together in Lucidea.

The following chronology describes the business history of Lucidea and related companies:

  • 1975: Easy Data, Inc. is founded by Merv Richter in Vancouver, Canada.
  • 1978: Sydney Development Corporation is founded in Vancouver, Canada.
  • 1982: Sydney Development Corporation acquires Easy Data with Merv Richter continuing as president.
  • 1985: Merv Richter exits Sydney Development Corporation.
  • 1987: Merv Richter relaunches Eloquent Systems, Inc. as a private business.
  • 1989: International Library Systems is founded by Ron Aspe.
  • 1989: International Library Systems acquires rights to Sydney Library System.
  • 2000: International Library Systems rebrands to SydneyPLUS International.
  • 2008: SydneyPLUS acquires SV Technology and its Law- Port Product.
  • 2008: SydneyPLUS acquires Cuadra Associates.
  • 2010: SydneyPLUS acquires Questor Systems.
  • 2010: SydneyPLUS acquires LookUp Precision from Advanced Productivity Software.
  • 2011: SydneyPLUS acquires special library products from Inmagic.
  • 2012: SydneyPLUS acquires Presto product from Inmagic.
  • 2013: SydneyPLUS rebrands to Lucidea.
  • 2017: Lucidea acquires Eloquent Software, Inc. from Merv Richter.

The acquisition of Eloquent by Lucidea expands its presence in the special libraries arena. Its existing products are especially oriented to corporate and legal libraries though they are also used in other types of organizations. In its recent phase of business, Eloquent had focused more on providing digital asset management products for archives. The sale of Eloquent to Lucidea represents an exit of Richter's ownership of the business that he built and sustained for over 40 years. Lucidea is well positioned to sustain Eloquent's products and provide ongoing support to its customers.

Impact on the Competitive Landscape

This move further consolidates the special library technology arena. Although Lucidea gains an incremental stage of growth, its position is not unchallenged by other competitors.

  • SirsiDynix continues its active role in this sector with the EOS.Web product it acquired in 2013. Special libraries represent a relatively small portion of SirsiDynix's overall business, with its flagship Symphony, Horizon, and BLUEcloud products more widely implemented by public and academic libraries.
  • Soutron Global, in partnership with UK-based Soutron Limited, was established more recently but continues to see a growing market share in special libraries.
  • Softlink continues as a major competitor in the special libraries sector with its Liberty ILS, which is primarily in Australia and other international regions.

The category of information centers formerly known as special libraries have seen substantial change in recent decades. Few of the organizations they serve operate traditional libraries with physical books and serials. Rather they manage mostly electronic collections or digital assets. Their collections may include subscriptions to electronic information and internally published business, scientific, and technical reports. The professionals employed, often with training as librarians, provide services beyond managing collections. They help identify resources and provide analysis for researchers and executives.

Developing and supporting technology products for the information centers or libraries outside the public, academic, and school markets continues to be a challenging business sector. Consolidation of large corporations, law firms, and hospitals has significantly reduced the potential customers of these companies. Many have eliminated their physical libraries and information centers. Those remaining often face challenges of serving large global organizations with limited personnel and resources.

These factors have taken their toll on the special library technology sector, which at one time included dozens of successful companies and many distributors or consulting firms providing implementation and customization services. These conditions have led to consolidation of the technology providers serving the special library sector as the key business strategy. To date, the consolidation has been seen more at the corporate level than with the incumbent products. Lucidea, for example, continues to support the products of all the companies it has acquired.

There is less homogeneity in the functional requirements in this sector compared to public, academic, or school libraries. These differences make it less likely that any given product will emerge to dominate in this sector. The current state of this sectorócharacterized by consolidated companies and fragmented productsóseems likely to persist.

View Citation
Publication Year:2017
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 37 Number 11
Issue:November 2017
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Company: Lucidea
Subject: Mergers and Acquisitions
Record Number:23325
Last Update:2022-11-29 00:32:43
Date Created:2018-03-24 19:04:39