January 16, 2003 – London--The British Library and Ex Libris, a leading developer of library software, have recently signed a contract to provide the UK national library with an integrated solution for many of its major information system requirements. The integrated library system (ILS) will replace the Library's main systems for acquisitions, cataloging, and catalog access for both reading rooms and remote users. Based on the Ex Libris ALEPH, MetaLib/SFX, and DigiTool software, the system will also support other services, such as remote document requests and the cataloging and retrieval of digital multimedia objects.
A single, off-the-shelf solution, the ILS addresses the British Library's major needs, provides opportunities for new ways of working, and allows for future growth by enabling functionality to be incorporated as Ex Libris develops it. Other benefits include the cataloging of all Library records according to one standard; the use of the same system across a wide variety of Library activities; and facilities for linking to external systems and exchanging bibliographic records with other organizations. Currently these services at the Library use a mixture of custom-built software and various software packages—most of which have had to be heavily modified to support all the Library's unique requirements.
Ex Libris was selected from a field of competing suppliers after demonstrating that it could offer a system with a comprehensive range of functions that had been implemented successfully in other large libraries. During 2003 the Library will concentrate on the preparatory work essential for such a large change. This work includes modifying the organization's internal procedures, converting data from existing systems, and conducting a major staff-training program. The production phases will begin in early 2004.
Clive Field, Director of Collections and Scholarship at the Library, commented, "While the British Library is unique in many ways, our basic system requirements are similar to those of other libraries—only on a much larger scale. I am delighted to announce that Ex Libris will supply us with the ILS and look forward to the program of testing, training, and implementation that will take place during the course of 2003." He added, "By allowing us to work in a more integrated way, the ILS will ultimately result in an improved service for our many readers and remote customers."
"We are particularly happy to welcome the British Library to the Ex Libris family," said Azriel Morag, chairman of Ex Libris. "This distinguished institution is the seventeenth national library to adopt ALEPH—a system that not only meets the current needs of progressive and electronically advanced libraries but also provides the necessary infrastructure for future development."
About the British Library
The British Library is the national library of the United Kingdom and one of the world's greatest research libraries. It provides world-class information services to the academic, business, research, and scientific communities and offers unparalleled access to the world's largest and most comprehensive research collection. The Library's collection has developed over 250 years and exceeds 150 million separate items representing every age of written civilization. These items include books, journals, manuscripts, maps, stamps, music, patents, newspapers, and sound recordings in all written and spoken languages. Further information is available on the Library's Web site, at www.bl.uk.
About Ex Libris
Ex Libris is a leading worldwide developer of high-performance applications for libraries, information centers, and researchers. A multinational company, Ex Libris has offices around the world. ALEPH, the Ex Libris integrated library solution, has been installed at over 750 sites in 50 countries. MetaLib, the information portal for library collections, and SFX, the context-sensitive linking solution for heterogeneous electronic resources in the scholarly information environment, have been purchased by more than 320 customers worldwide. The Ex Libris product suite also includes DigiTool, a solution for constructing digital collections.