Magazine article American Libraries

Technically Speaking: Winners and Losers in the LMS Market

Magazine article American Libraries

Technically Speaking: Winners and Losers in the LMS Market

Article excerpt

In the fourth quarter of 2003, library management system (LMS) vendors reported 87 sales resulting in new customers and 31 same-vendor migrations from legacy systems. Yet only 22 (roughly 25%) of new customer sales were libraries that converted from in-house noncommercial systems or were newly automated; the other 75% were just switching vendors. These figures confirm that the LMS market is a "mature" one with little real growth. Let's go behind the overall numbers and see what's cooking.

Looking closer at the 22 libraries that were first-time entrants into the LMS commercial market, we see that only 10 of them (45%) were located in the United States. And of those 10, TLC sold seven. In this quarter at least, TLC was the only vendor still newly automating U.S. libraries in any substantial way.

Only seven LMS vendors have made a significant number of sales. (See a sampling of sales announcements below.) Of those seven, Ex Libris, Sirsi, and Dynix had a mixture of U.S. and non-U.S. sales. Endeavor, TLC, and GIS Information Systems sold predominantly or exclusively to U.S. libraries. VTLS sales, on the other hand, were predominantly to non-U.S. libraries.

Innovative Interfaces had been just treading water this past quarter until the company announced a contract with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in late December. TLC had the highest number of sales at 18; however, all but two were to relatively small libraries. In terms of the value of new contracts, Ex Libris, Endeavor, Sirsi, and Dynix led the pack, each acquiring between 10 and 14 new customers each.

These relatively equal sales figures get more interesting when customers lost are factored in. Ex Libris and Endeavor acquired 12 and 10 new customers respectively, and neither lost a single client to another vendor. Notable sales for Ex Libris were Duke University and the 23-campus Virginia Community College System. Endeavor bagged UCLA and the University of British Columbia. TLC was the only other vendor among the top sellers that did not lose any customers.

Sirsi's big challenge in the past few years has been to combine sales to new customers with migrating its large installed base of DRA customers to Unicorn. In the new installation department, Sirsi did very well, obtaining 14 new customers, including Cincinnati Public and Kitsap. They also managed to migrate six customers from DRA to Unicorn. Yet during this same period, the company lost UCLA, Duke, UNC at Chapel Hill, and the University of British Columbia, as well as 10 small-to-medium-sized DRA customers, to other vendors.

Dynix, which still has more customers than any other vendor, is also trying to keep its huge installed base of Dynix ILS Customers from switching to the competition. It signed on 12 new customers, including Pasadena and Glendale Public in California, and migrated 12 others to Horizon, including Philadelphia University and three school districts. The company lost eight Dynix ILS customers, including Kitsap, to other vendors.

The Polaris system of GIS made a respectable showing this quarter with four new sales and eight migrations from Galaxy. The company lost only two Galaxy systems to competitors. VTLS did better in this past quarter than it has done in a long time, gaining nine new customers and losing only one VTLS Classic customer to another vendor.

One thing the numbers fail to show is the increasing importance of new products and services outside of the catalog-centric core modules of the traditional LMS. To a much greater extent than the accompanying list of sales indicates, a very large percentage of sales involve such new services as OpenURL linking services, federated search services, enhanced content sales, portals, ILL and delivery services, and RFID systems. The focus of the market has evolved from catalog-centric systems to broad information management and retrieval systems and services.

Contracts and agreements

* Ex Libris sales of Aleph 500:

Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, replacing Sirsi DRA and Innovative Innovacq. …

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