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Axiell Acquires Bibliotekenes IT-senter

Smart Libraries Newsletter [March 2019]


Axiell, a major provider of technologies to libraries, museums, and archives, has acquired Bibliotekenes IT-senter, more commonly known as Bibits, expanding its presence in Norway, Sweden, and Finland. This acquisition brings two important products into the Axiell product portfolio, the Micromarc ILS dominant in Norway, and Saga, a library web portal. This move represents a significant expansion of Axiell's library business and brings in a new set of customer libraries with potential interest in its flagship Quria library services platform.

The acquisition of Bibits continues the ongoing expansion of Axiell, which has grown to be one of the largest companies in the global industry offering technology products and services to libraries, museums, and archives as well as a major distributor of digital content in Scandinavia. Axiell has grown both organically by developing and selling products developed internally as well as through a succession of business acquisitions. While Axiell ranks as one of the largest companies in the global industry, it has only a small presence in the North American library technology arena. Its museum and archive products have a stronger presence in the United States and Canada. The acquisition of Bibits strengthens Axiell position in Scandinavia, giving it a large customer base in Norway, a country in which it previously had a smaller presence.

Acquiring Bibits also helps make some of the ground Axiell lost when the public and school libraries in Denmark implemented a nationwide system, displacing Axiell's DDElibra, which had previously been used in the majority of Danish public libraries.[1]

This acquisition falls within the context of Axiell's ongoing expansion by acquisition as well as its broad strategy to build a customer base ready Quria, its new library services platform for public libraries. The company has been working in recent years to consolidate its many country-specific ILS products into a fewer number of systems, especially BOOK-IT and Axiell Aurora. Axiell has completed the initial release of Quria, which is now in its early implementation phase. In the longer term, Quria seems positioned as the strategic library automation product for the company that will be marketed to new prospects and will be the eventual migration path for its existing customer libraries.

Details of the Acquisition

Financial details of the acquisition of Bibits were not publicly announced by Axiell. The products of Bibits will continue to be supported and will become part of Axiell Libraries and Education. The company employed about 50 personnel that have joined Axiell. At the time of its acquisition, the company was led by Kjetil Hillestad as its Managing Director.

Bibits Company Background

Bibits has a complex corporate history, involving multiple public and private entities. The company was founded in 1988 under the name Norsk Systemutvikling AS with Micromarc as its primary product. In 2001, Norsk Systemutvikling merged with Biblioteksentralens IT in 2001 and began operating as Bibliotekenes IT-senter AS.

Bibits corporate structure included three subsidiaries, one for each of the major countries in which it operates. These include

  • Bibliotekscentrum Sverige AB, distributing Micromarc to libraries in Sweden.
  • Open Library Solutions AB, its subsidiary based in Sweden that develops the CS Library Saga web portal.
  • Open Library Solutions Finland Oy launched in 2012 to distribute and support Micromarc and CS Library Saga to libraries in Finland.

Prior to its acquisition by Axiell, Bibliotekenes IT-senter AS was owned by Biblioteksentralen, a joint venture of the municipal and country governments, and the Norwegian Library Association. Forlagsentralen, which was previously a joint owner of Bibliotekenes IT-senter AS, was purchased by Biblioteksentralen in 2014. The company was also a member of Bibliotekenes Hus, a consortium of four companies providing products and services to libraries:

  • Biblioteksentralen: a supplier of books
  • Norsk Bibliotektransport, providing logistics services for materials to Norwegian libraries
  • BS Undervisning, providing school books and teaching aids for primary and secondary schools
  • BS Eurobib, providing furnishings for library spaces, schools, and museums
  • Bibliotekenes IT-senter AS (formerly): technology products including Micromarc and Saga


Micromarc was initially developed in 1987. Currently, Bibits states that there are over 2,000 installations of Micromarc, serving over 250 municipal library systems and over 1,400 school and special libraries. Though Micromarc is an aging ILS, it has been consistently enhanced and is on its third major version. The main competitor to Micromarc in Norway is the Bibliofil ILS, produced by Bibliotek Systemer. This product was originally developed in 1982 by the Larvik Public Library in Norway, leading to the establishment of Bibliotek-Systemer AS in 1988 to continue development and support for the software.

Saga: A Web Portal for Public Libraries

Bibits also offers Saga, a specialized web portal for libraries with integrated search that serves as a comprehensive website for a library. Saga enables library to create sophisticated websites without the need to work directly with technical languages and components. Libraries can add content to their Saga-based website using defined templates and tools. The product is localized in multiple languages, including English, Swedish, Finnish, and Norwegian. Its features include an event scheduler and a tool for easily displaying each library's opening hours. The product is based on a mobile-first responsive design that scales to accommodate the screen size of any user device. Saga falls in the same product genre as Axiell arena, that of a full-featured web portal for libraries.

Saga is the primary product of Open Library Solutions, founded in 2012 as a spin-off of Bibits, which is part of the organization now acquired by Axiell. The current Saga portal technology is based on an earlier product CS Library, originally created by Teknikhuset AB, a Swedish software development firm. CS Library was launched in 2007, in collaboration with the Stockholm Public Library and the Umeň City Library. Since 2012, CS Library has been a product of Open Library Solutions and was redeveloped and rebranded in 2016 as Saga CS Library, or simply Saga.

In May 2011, Bibits entered an agreement with Open Library Solutions to distribute CS Library in Norway. Since about 2010, Teknikhuset had begun its own efforts to market the product to Norwegian libraries. Teknikhuset Holdings and Bibliotekenes IT-Senter AS created Open Library Solutions AB as a new company in May 2015. This new company became the owner of CS Library and responsible for its ongoing development and support.

Saga is based on a framework Open Library Access (OLA), which enables it to interoperate with multiple external systems. The product is currently integrated with several of the major automation products used in Scandinavia, including Micromarc, BOOK-IT, and Gemini. It also enables interoperability with digital content providers and sources of cover images. Bibits offered a package branded as Micromark+ that included the Micromarc ILS, the Saga web portal, and Bib- Control reporting and analytics application.

Axiell Company Background

Axiell has become established as one of the larger global providers of technology products and services to libraries and other cultural institutions and is active in multiple global regions. The company does not currently offer a library management system to libraries in the United States, though its archive and museum products are used in North America. While the broader company offers products and services for diverse organizations, Axiell Public Library and Education division provides specialized automation products for public and school libraries. Consistent with the reality that each type of library has its distinctive technology requirements, Axiell does not have substantial involvement with academic and research libraries.

Axiell is the largest company in the industry specializing in public and school libraries, with more employees and revenue than competitors, such as The Library Corporation, Infor, Biblionix, Baratz, Capita, and Auto-Graphics. Axiell is smaller than the global diversified giants with broad product lines, such as Follett, EBSCO, ProQuest or library technology companies with products for all types of libraries like SirsiDynix and Innovative Interfaces. Axiell continues to extend its reach beyond its original base in Scandinavia to other countries in Europe and beyond.

Axiell has a complex organizational structure, with divisions established for each of its product areas as well as operating entities or offices for each of the many countries in which it does business. The company operates three major business divisions,

  • Public Library and Education, offering a variety of ILSs developed and implemented each for specific countries, the Arena library portal, as well as Quria, the company's newly developed library services platform for public libraries. This division of Axiell focuses on technology products and services for public libraries and schools.
  • Archives, Libraries and Museums, providing resource management and discovery products to archives, museums, and special libraries. The products offered by this division include ADLIB, with its specialized versions for museums, archives and libraries, eMu for managing museum collections, and Mobydoc, a museum management system widely used in France.
  • Axiell Media, providing ebooks and other digital content to libraries and retailers in Scandinavia. This business is based on the Elib platform.
  • Axiell Services, providing outsourcing services for libraries. This division currently operates three libraries in Nacka, Sweden.

Axiell is privately owned. Mats Hentzel is the Chairman of its board of directors and Joel Sommerfeldt leads Axiell Group as its Chief Executive Officer.

Company History

The company traces its origins to Axiell Biblioteksystem AB founded in 1985, with BIBS as a library management system that became one of the dominant products in public libraries in Sweden. 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 Chronology of Business Events
Date Company Country Products
1985Axiell Biblioteksystem AB foundedSwedenBIBS
2004 CSC Consulting Group (previously eHuset and Dansk Data Electronic Denmark DDElibra
Dec 2007 Akateeminen Tietopalvelu ATP Oy Finland Origo
Feb 2007 TietoEnator Libraries Oy PallasPro Finland PallasPro
Apr 2008 DS (founded in 1983, formerly Plessey Data Systems) United Kingdom OpenGalaxy, CALM, Arena (co-developer with Axiell)
Mar 2013 Adlib Information Systems Netherlands ADLIB Library, Adlib Archives, Adlib Museums
Nov 2013 Selago Design Canada Mimsy SG collection management for Museums
Apr 2014 KE Software Australia eMu
Mar 2015 Elib Sweden Swedish e-book distributor
May 2016 Mobydoc France Mobydoc
Oct 2016 Gold Systems United States Vita (vital records management)
Oct 2016 Biber GmbH Germany BIBDIA
Jan 2019 Bibliotekenes IT-senter Finland MikroMarc, Sage (former CS Library)

Axiell Library Products
Product Developed by Year launched Country Status
Quria Axiell 2016 Global. Initially: France, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, UK Active development and sales
Aurora Axiell 2009 Finland Active
BOOK-IT Axiel 1997 Sweden, Finland, US (1 library) Active (developed as successor to BTJ 2000)
WeLib Axiell 2016 Sweden, Norway Active, digital school library
OpenGalaxy DS 1983 United Kingdom Active only in the United Kingdom; Open Galaxy Spark, a new web-based staff interface for OpenGalaxy was developed in 2015;
BIBDIA Biber GmbH 1992 Germany Active
Micromarc Bibits 1987 Norway Active
DDElibra Data Danish Electronic 1991 Denmark DDElibra was phased out in 2017 following the nationwide implementation of Systematic's Cicero in the public and school libraries in Denmark
PallasPro TietoEnator Early 1990s Finland Legacy system, largely replaced by Axiell Aurora in Finland
Origo Akateeminen Tietopalvelu ATP Oy 1990's Finland Legacy system, largely replaced by Axiell Aurora in Finland
LIBRA.SE Axiel 1990's Sweden Legacy: not actively marketed, though it is still used by a few public libraries and by school libraries in Sweden
Web Portal Products
Arena Axiell 2009 Global Active: positioned as the discovery interface for Quria and other ILS products as well as CALM archive management system
Saga Bibits 2007 Norway, Sweden Active: implemented by libraries in Norway, Sweden, and Finland
View Citation
Publication Year:2019
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 39 Number 03
Issue:March 2019
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Company: Axiell
Record Number:24098
Last Update:2023-09-23 07:49:09
Date Created:2019-03-06 16:51:37