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ProQuest Introduces Rialto

Smart Libraries Newsletter [December 2018]


The January 2015 acquisition of Ex Libris by ProQuest joined the leading technology provider for academic and research libraries with a larger-scale company offering a wide range of content and workflow products. Since its acquisition, Ex Libris has continued to develop, support, and market its products through its own brand and business identity. In a move that highlights the synergies between ProQuest and Ex Libris, the company has launched a new product branded as Rialto to deliver the capabilities of ProQuest OASIS through the Alma platform.

OASIS: Online Platform for Selection and Acquisition

OASIS (Online Acquisitions and Selection Information System) is an online service used by library personnel for the selection and acquisition of library materials. This longstanding service can be seen as a base level of capabilities that provides some context for Rialto as a new service within Alma addressing a similar scope of activity. OASIS provides access to a consolidated marketplace of materials spanning many publishers including those from Ingram, ProQuest's own Ebook Central, EBSCO Ebooks, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, and others. Materials available include over 2.5 million e-books and 25 million print titles.

OASIS was originally developed in about 2004 by Coutts Information Services, a major book supplier for libraries based in Ringwood in the United Kingdom. John Coutts Library Services was originally founded in Canada in 1969. Coutts had a complex history as the company grew through mergers and acquisitions, including the book division of Martinus Nijhoff in 2002. Coutts Information Services launched OASIS in about 2004 as a new web-based portal providing consolidated access to all its services, including access to its bibsource database of published materials. OASIS supported firm orders, approvals, the ability to set profiles of criteria for approvals, and management reports. Coutts offered ILS integration options including downloadable MARC records and EDI support. The platform supports multiple procurement options including firm orders, approval plans, standing orders, demand-driven acquisitions, and orders transmitted via EDI.

OASIS has gone through several business transitions following its initial development by Coutts. Ingram Industries acquired Coutts Information Services in December 2006. This acquisition also involved the MyiLibrary e-book hosting platform developed by Coutts. Ingram continued to develop the service and expand the content available throughout the course of the next decade. ProQuest gained responsibility for OASIS through its 2015 acquisition of Coutts from Ingram Content Group. OASIS continues as an important service within ProQuest's product portfolio.

EBSCO Information Services offers the GOBI online acquisitions tool as a service that competes directly with OASIS. EBSCO acquired YBP Library Services, including the GOBI service, from Baker & Taylor in February 2015. GOBI includes content from many different publisher partners, including ProQuest. EBSCO partnered with Ingram Content Group to make its catalog of e-books available through OASIS in 2013. Despite the intense competition between Pro- Quest and EBSCO on other fronts, EBSCO continues to make its e-books available through OASIS. These two selection and acquisitions services reflect an important dynamic were arrangements to supply content from the broad field of publishers remains strategically important even in the context of competing workflow or discovery products.

ProQuest has consolidated its multiple e-book platforms into Ebook Central, including ebrary (acquired in 2011), EBL (2013), and the MyiLibrary platform acquired from Ingram.


ProQuest and Ex Libris have already worked to create integration between Alma and OASIS. Alma Real-Time Acquisition, launched in June 2016, provides a streamlined interface between the OASIS service and Alma. This integration automates the creation of bibliographic and order records in Alma for materials ordered via OASIS. Data transferred includes the MARC bibliographic record, the designated fund code, price, and designated library. The OASIS Alma API avoids duplicative entry of data but continues to rely on selectors and acquisitions personnel working across two separate systems, Alma and OASIS.

Rialto: Reconceptualizing Selection and Acquisitions

One of the first examples of the strategic synergies possible between ProQuest and Ex Libris is Rialto. Although part of the ProQuest organization, Ex Libris has generally continued its own independent product strategies. Ex Libris has also taken on some products formerly within the ProQuest portfolio, including RefWorks, Summon, 360 Link, 360 Resource Manager, Intota, Ulrichsweb, and Pivot. Rialto will be a new product jointly developed by ProQuest and Ex Libris personnel and in consultation and collaboration with an international group of library partners.

ProQuest's research into this product opportunity included a discovery phase where the company met with personnel from dozens of institutions across many global regions, including North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. This wide consultation is especially important for Rialto since business rules, workflow patterns, and suppliers differ considerably by country and region. The product aims to address some of the pain points that acquisitions personnel encounter in their work.

The investigation showed that libraries in different regions experienced similar pain points. Libraries acquire content from many different suppliers, often involving different processes for invoices, payments, and other business details. Preliminary findings also suggest that some difficulties in selection and acquisition are common across geographic regions.

The design of Rialto aims to better align items acquired for library collections with actual use. According to Oren Beit-Arie, Rialto aims to help libraries “buy what they need, use what they buy and to do it with less manual work. These efficiencies will then free time for more strategic activities.” In the initial conversations with library partners, many noted a disconnect between selection and acquisitions, resulting in considerable manual or redundant work. This new product aims to unify selection, ordering, and acquisitions, even beyond the API integration that is currently available through the OASIS Alma API.

The basic idea of Rialto involves providing a selection and acquisition service of similar scope to OASIS but contained entirely within Alma. For libraries using Alma, it will not be necessary to interact with a separate system for selection and ordering. Rather, this capability will be available directly within Alma as an additional set of tabs within the familiar Alma dashboards. The marketplace of available content will likewise be available through the Alma platform. Even though the OASIS Alma API streamlines the data exchange between OASIS and Alma, library staff members still have to login to and work in two separate systems with different interfaces. Many of the existing workflows were conceived during the time when print materials dominated library collections. Now that collections have become more oriented to electronic resources, it is important to incorporate better workflows for their procurement patterns.

ProQuest positions Rialto as a bridge between the aspects of acquisition accomplished from within products like Alma and the selection and purchasing tasks carried out in services such as OASIS. The product name was inspired by the Rialto Bridge in Venice, which spans the Grand Canal, connecting important markets with other districts of the city.

The design of Rialto will take a new look at relevant functionality relative to the broader context of library collection. According to ProQuest's preliminary findings, selection is not only not well integrated with acquisitions and cataloging, but it could also benefit from better integration with resource sharing, reading lists, and other operational areas. Procurement decisions need to be driven more by data and analytics with less reliance on guess work. Rialto will include an advanced analytics component to assist selectors purchase or license the materials optimal to immediate use and desired collection strengths. These data points and predictive artificial intelligence will enable Rialto to present recommendations to selectors not unlike is common in other e-commerce environments. Building the product within Alma also provides the opportunity to bring other elements into the algorithms such as circulation statistics, acquisitions data, and other operational data.

ProQuest and Ex Libris concept of Rialto goes beyond just deploying the functionality of the current OASIS service in Alma. Rather, the company aims to take a fresh look at the selection, ordering, and acquisition processes in light of current issues and pain points librarians experience. OASIS was initially developed primarily around print materials. Although much of the content acquired through the platform today includes other media, the basic workflows and design of the platform revolves around acquisitions methods oriented to print materials. Rialto aims to not only bring this area of functionality into a more modern technology platform but will also modernize its workflows relative to current and future content formats, procurement methods, and business models. Rialto will support all types of content, print and e-books, audio, and video. The environment is designed to be flexible to support other types of content as they become available.

Rialto, like OASIS, will include a marketplace of resources available for purchase provided within Alma. The content available will include materials from ProQuest as well as from many other publishers and aggregators.

The conceptual design of Rialto is underway. ProQuest and Ex Libris have concluded an initial set of kick-off meetings with development partners in the United States and the United Kingdom. The company will recruit additional library partners. The development strategy will also include a publisher development program to ensure that Rialto will include the most comprehensive marketplace of content resources possible. The product roadmap currently anticipates a release for development partners in December 2016, an early adopter program in mid-2020, and general release by late 2020. The business model of Rialto will parallel that of OASIS where ProQuest assesses a commission on sales and does not charge a platform fee.

Rialto will not replace OASIS but will provide a new service for libraries using Alma. ProQuest will continue to develop and support OASIS, which is used by libraries using many different ILS products. The company isn't making changes for libraries using other automation products but aims to create a better experience for those using its flagship technology platform. It is reasonable to expect that at least some of the advancements developed for Rialto will also be retrofitted into OASIS.

The development of Rialto can also be seen as a move that might strengthen ProQuest's position relative to other online acquisitions environments. As noted, the GOBI service from EBSCO Information Service is the major competitor to OASIS. The appeal of performing selection and ordering as a unified service within Alma may attract both OASIS and GOBI customers. Today, around 1,300 institutions have selected Alma. As Alma becomes ever more dominant among academic and research libraries, it has reached a critical mass to sustain a previously separate product genre.

View Citation
Publication Year:2018
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 38 Number 12
Issue:December 2018
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Company: ProQuest
Ex Libris
Products: Rialto
Record Number:24084
Last Update:2022-12-05 14:51:23
Date Created:2019-03-06 12:23:05