OCLC has acquired Capira Technologies, a small firm specializing in mobile apps for libraries. In a deal concluded on July 1, 2020, OCLC assumes responsibility for the company, including the development and support of its existing mobile apps. The four employees of Capira Technology also joined OCLC, including company founder Michael Berse.
OCLC has not been in an active phase of business acquisitions in recent years. Its last major transaction took place in January 2017, when it acquired Relais International. OCLC divested its QuestionPoint service to Springshare in May 2019. A visual representation of OCLC's history of mergers and acquisitions is available on Library Technology Guides (https://librarytechnology.org/mergers/oclc/).
Capira Technologies was founded in December 2012 with the purpose of developing customized mobile apps for libraries.
Though small in terms of the size of the business acquisition, this event represents an important move by OCLC to strengthen its offerings and development agenda for patron-facing mobile technologies. Products created by Capira Technologies have been implemented by more than 500 libraries. Prominent customers include the New York Public Library, Brooklyn Public Library, and the Minuteman Library Network. This move brings important patron-facing mobile technologies into OCLC's portfolio of public library products and services.
Capira Technologies launched its flagship mobile app in May 2013, including features such as ILS integration for real-time catalog search, requests, and patron self-check; self-registration, digital library card, and push notifications. In support of a library's mobile strategy, the app provides reports and analysis from Google Firebase Analytics, a web management console for the configuration and deployment of the app, as well as professional services for marketing and design for mobile user experience.
The Capira mobile app gained capabilities through additional development and integrations as well as partnerships. In November 2014, for example, Capira developed an option for features related to Apple's iBeacon technology. Based on Bluetooth low energy connectivity, iBeacon enables customized push messaging and other interactions based on a visitor's physical location within or proximity to its facilities. This technology has become widely adopted in the retail sector as part of mobile marketing strategies. In the library context, for patrons opting to enable the service, iBeacon can push general messages related to items they have borrowed or requested or location-specific messages related to exhibits, displays, or collection in areas of interest. Also in 2014, Capira partnered with StackMap to take advantage of their tools for displaying maps and directions to collection items selected through the catalog search feature.
For libraries interested in a more basic mobile app at a lower cost, the company offers CapiraReady. This app can be deployed quickly since it is based on a set of pre-designed templates rather than the more involved customization provided with the flagship CapiraMobile app. Capira Technologies has also created a web-based platform for patron requests and reservations. MuseumKey supports library partnerships with local museums, managing museum passes according to available times and dates. LendingKey helps a library manage requests for lendable devices, such as Wi-Fi hotspots, laptops, tools, or other non-traditional items.
Both MuseumKey and LendingKey integrate with the circulation module of the library's integrated library system. More recently, the company developed the timely Capira- Curbside to assist libraries as they reopen following COVID-19 closures. Ahead of the ability to fully open their facilities, many libraries have opted to provide curbside pickup and checkout of materials requested online. Los Angeles Public Library licensed CapiraCurbside to facilitate the reopening of 50 of its branch locations offering this service. LAPL had previously contracted with Capira Technology for the creation of a custom mobile app. By August 2020 more than 200 libraries had implemented CapiraCurbside to support their reopening procedures.
OCLC has previously developed the Digby mobile app for WorldShare Management Services to assist library workers with selected activities, such as retrieval of requested materials from stacks, item-scanning for inventory reports, and collecting use statistics for items consulted but not checked out. Library workers can also use Digby to change item locations as materials are moved for relocation or shifting projects. Digby was recently enhanced to support mobile checkouts and returns, a helpful contactless option during the COVID-19 crisis. Digby is available to libraries using WorldShare Management Services without additional cost.
The partnership with Capira Technologies enhances OCLC Wise and its capabilities for public libraries. Wise takes a patron-centered approach, offering capabilities beyond standard ILS features to facilitate engagement and personalized communication channels with library users, supporting a wide range of library marketing activities. The mobile technologies acquired through Capira Technologies represent a natural extension of OCLC's product portfolio to address the pressing needs of public libraries to deliver ever more innovative and engaging services for their patrons.