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Library Perceptions 2021: Results of the 13th International Survey of Library Automation

Library Technology Guides [March 30, 2021]

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Abstract:

This fourteenth iteration of the International Survey of Library Automation was conducted during an extremely challenging period for libraries. The global COVID-19 pandemic imposed widespread disruption. Libraries abruptly closed their physical facilities and expanded their digital offerings. It is not a surprise that the number of responses to the Library Automation Survey were fewer than previous years. This year 2,849 libraries responded to the survey, a bit lower than the 3,234 recorded last year. The survey aims to capture meaningful information regarding the core technology systems on which libraries depend to manage their operations and to deliver access to their collections.

Notable Observations
Survey responses suggest ongoing success for Alma among academic libraries, given its generally respectable satisfaction ratings, strong loyalty scores, and top placement among migration intentions among libraries planning a change from legacy systems. Though not yet implemented widely enough to gauge satisfaction, migration intentions suggest FOLIO as Alma’s strongest competition going forward, though interest in OCLC WorldShare Management Services and Koha remain strong.
The decline of legacy products accelerates. Improving satisfaction rankings for both Voyager and Aleph, including rising loyalty scores, and migration intentions favoring Alma suggest most may stay within the Ex Libris camp, though many also express interest in FOLIO, WMS, and Koha. Libraries using Millennium show a continued decline in satisfaction ratings, loyalty scores, and migration intentions favoring Alma and FOLIO rather than Sierra. Especially in the academic library sector, the trajectories of libraries moving from legacy products will shape the next phase of implementations of the current flagship products.
In the public library sector where traditional ILS products prevail, responses indicate moderate interest in changing to new systems, though with no prevailing indicators of migration targets. Symphony (17%), Horizon (34%), Polaris (7.3%), Library.Solution (10.3%), Sierra (31%), VERSO (9.8%)
Libraries using modern web-based products have little interest in changing systems. Biblionix Apollo received high satisfaction scores and very few libraries using it are considering alternatives (1.1%). Even through their satisfaction ratings are not superlative, libraries using Ex Libris Alma (3.4%) and OCLC WorldShare Management Services (8.8%) expressed little interest in changing systems.
Open source products have become a routine option in all library sectors. Both major open source ILS products, Koha and Evergreen, show increasing levels of satisfaction, though a bit uneven depending on support arrangements. OPALS used mostly in school and academic libraries, earns superlative scores. Awareness of the FOLIO library services platform continues to increase with 88 libraries mentioning it among their migration candidates.

Even in times of crisis, libraries continue their ongoing processes. System migrations planned or underway generally moved forward, often with some concessions to accommodate the need conduct the work entirely off site, with vendors and library personnel working remotely. Libraries continue to make progress in replacing legacy systems and to investigate new products well suited to their operational needs and strategic vision.

Statistical ratings and narrative comments given in survey responses fill in details surrounding the broader events in the library technology sector, such as Industry consolidation, open source software initiatives, and the decline of legacy products. Responses address some key questions: How are libraries reacting to the dominance of Alma in the academic library sector? How well does Alma serve smaller academic libraries? Are there leading indicators that anticipate the acceptance of FOLIO as an open source competitor? What are the intentions of libraries still using legacy products such as Voyager, Aleph, Virtua, and Millennium?

Trends in survey results over time track the impact of previous industry events on libraries. The generally negative fallout of the acquisition of SirsiDynix by Vista Equity Partners in 2007 coincided with a sharp plunge in satisfaction ratings for Symphony and Horizon, which have fully recovered and trended upward since its transition of ownership to ICV Partners. A dramatic decline in satisfaction ratings for Sierra followed Innovative’s transition to private equity ownership in 2012. Likewise, Polaris dropped from its previous superlative rankings once it was acquired by Innovative. In contrast, ratings for Alma continued a gradual improvement since Ex Libris was acquired by ProQuest. Satisfaction scores for Voyager improved following the acquisition of Endeavor Information Systems by Ex Libris, following a darker period of ownership by Elsevier. In this first year since the acquisition of Innovative by ProQuest satisfaction ratings for both Polaris and Sierra both turned upward. Survey results give early indications of library interest in FOLIO, especially through the migration intention trends.

Several themes are evident in the last few editions of the perceptions survey. Large libraries of all types have complex requirements and evaluate their systems on a much harsher scale than smaller organizations. Presenting results without regard to size categories would give misleading impressions. Products designed for small libraries would not be sucessful among larger and more complex institutions, despite superlative ratings by the small libraries that use them.

Conventional integrated library systems dominate public libraries, with top scores going to proprietary products in the largest tier and to those based on commercially supported open source software in the mid-size category. Small and very small public libraries also favored proprietary ILS products. In the academic library sector, survey results reveal notable patterns regarding library services platforms. These products received strong marks in most categories but are not rated as highly for managing print resources than legacy ILS products. Small libraries give superlative scores--with little differentiation among question categories--to products able to meet their basic requirements without complex features they don't need.


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Publication Year:2021
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Library Technology Guides
Issue:March 30, 2021
Publisher:Library Technology Guides
Place of Publication:Nashville, TN
Online access:https://librarytechnology.org/perceptions/2020/
Record Number:26040
Last Update:2021-04-15 08:05:04
Date Created:2021-04-07 05:57:07