The public libraries in Denmark have reached a major milestone in the creation of a shared national library management environment (Fælles Bibliotekssystem in Danish). Following a long procurement process, the path has been cleared for the Danish company Dantek A/S to commence development and deployment of a platform to support the automation of the public and school libraries in 88 municipalities in the country. These municipalities represent more than 90 percent of the population of Denmark. Those not voting to participate in the initial project expressed potential interest in the future. KOMBIT A/S, a non-profit organization owned by the municipal governments in Denmark, managed the procurement process. The organization handles many other types of procurements and projects on behalf of local authorities in the country.
The contract for this major library automation project was awarded in August, but was not entirely finalized, pending resolution of protests from other vendors also competing for the tender. Following this clarification phase, the award of the tender has been finalized, at least to the point where Dantek has been authorized to begin developing the system. Axiell, the incumbent vendor for many of the public libraries that would be served by the proposed system, had filed a complaint questioning some of the business parameters of Dantek relative to the requirements of the tender.
On November 27, 2013 the steering committee made its recommendation to KOMBIT to authorize Dantek to proceed with the implementation of the phase project. Despite the extended clarification phase of the tender award process, the development and implementation phase is expected to follow the originally proposed schedule.
The tender for the proposed new national system describes a system created as a modern service-oriented technology that offers library automation functionality consistent with the specialized requirements of Danish libraries. Functionality will broadly include that related to the procurement of materials and transactional tasks, such as search and circulation related activities. The new system is intended to address both physical and digital materials. Though deployed centrally, relieving local municipalities from the need to administer their own local systems, it will be able to integrate with external administrative systems. Following a layered approach, the project documents specify that presentation interfaces, including APIs, be separated from underlying data and business logic components. Development and testing of the software will proceed through 2014, with testing in early adopting libraries in the first quarter of 2015. Following successful testing in those libraries, the process of deploying the software to the 88 municipal libraries will commence.
Dantek, based in Aarhus, is a well-established library automation vendor in Denmark, focusing primarily on products for school libraries. More than 4,000 school libraries, primarily in Scandinavia and Northern Europe, make use of the company's BiblioMatik family of automation products.
The award of the project to Dantek represents a major blow to Axiell, which currently dominates in the public library automation arena in Denmark with its DDElibra library management system. Other products used by Danish public libraries include Integra, from the Danish company DBC and used by a handful of libraries, and Ex Libris Aleph, used by an even smaller small minority. The successful implementation of a new national system provided by Dantek will take away a significant slice of Axiell's public library presence. Axiell also supports the majority of public libraries in Finland and Sweden and a portion of libraries in the UK. Axiell, though consolidated as a company in the mid-2000s, has continued to maintain multiple automation products, each serving specialized needs of each country where the product was developed prior to acquisition. In recent years, Axiell has significantly expanded its reach beyond libraries and into archives and museums. Axiell has developed its own CALM archives management product and acquired Adlib, whose archives management product is used by thousands of archives worldwide. Large-scale automation projects can make a dramatic impact on the prospects of vendors competing within the region.
This library automation project in Denmark reinforces the current trend for libraries to participate in shared technology infrastructure. These arrangements have the potential not only to lower costs, but to improve service to library users through access to larger bodies of collection materials, available locally and through efficient resource sharing mechanisms. The project also highlights the synergies between public libraries and schools, specifically in Denmark, but with implications for libraries in other international regions. Within the United States many public libraries have cooperative programs with the school libraries within their service areas.