Library systems world

Lorcan 2 min read

It is surprising to me that there is not more discussion in the library community about the structure of the industry which supports it. Sure, there are complaints about ILS vendors, and some discussion about publishers, but very little about broader structural issues, especially as see change all around. Andrew Pace is somebody who is interested in these issues, and he has just provided a cryptic view of possible futures in the ILS space:

Let’s look at another example, the ILS industry:

  • Single monolithic system (one of the ILS vendors left standing)
  • Vertically integrated system (e.g., with financial, HR, course management, and campus or community portal systems)
  • Open Source system (e.g., Evergreen, Koha, the University of Rochester’s eXtensible catalog)
  • Suite of dis-integrated or interoperable systems
  • OCLC custom service suite

These aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive options (at least after the first one), but which system will you have? Which system do you want?

Does your library have a continuation strategy for content and systems? An exit strategy? [Hectic Pace]

Some interesting stuff here, about which one could say a lot. Here are some brief random remarks.

  • We are certainly seeing consolidation in the ILS market and will see more. It will be interesting to see what Francisco Partners does after their Ex-Libris acquisition.
  • What about outside interest from ‘complementary’ system providers? One would think that libraries are too much of a niche market to attract the acquisition attention of a SAP or an Oracle, but what about a Blackboard?
  • What about migrating library processes to more generic solutions? The use of PeopleSoft, say, for acquisitions is something that you see discussed, especially in the academic environment where library data has to be reconciled with institutional financial data. Recently, I have heard mention of the use of a customer relationship management system for patron records in a public library setting, interesting because of the additional functionality it offers.
  • How much interest is there for on-demand systems support? for libraries?
  • Libraries developed a shared model for cataloging, but other data-oriented activities tend to be locally based. How will libraries manage ERM and knowledge-base data, for example, in the future?
  • There has been quite a bit of interest in the ‘disintegrated’ library system, but not a lot of movement. Library system vendors have added additional systems alongside the ILS (metasearch and ERM for example) but have not done so much to split apart the classical ILS. We are seeing some discussion about the Catalog migrating to other environments, but the implications of this for the ILS are not clear. The burden of migrating from one system to another is an incentive to librarians to work towards a more modular arrangement; however, this may also be an incentive to vendors not to go in this direction.

I think that we will have an interesting few years ahead of us, and, maybe, some major shifts.
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