Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Anticipating the Next Phase of the Library-Technology Industry

Magazine article Computers in Libraries

Anticipating the Next Phase of the Library-Technology Industry

Article excerpt

As 2016 winds down, let's review some of the major events within the library-technology industry over the past year and anticipate what might be in store for the next. 2016 has seen a series of major events that have indelibly altered the landscape of organizations and their products, offering strategic technology advantages to libraries.

Ex Libris Acquisition and ProQuest Merger

Ex Libris Group has become fully integrated into ProQuest following the major business acquisition announced in the last part of 2015. During the year, the company executed a product strategy that has remained true to what was announced at the time of the acquisition. There have been no unanticipated product casualties as a result of the merger. Intota had its demise before it was completed or put into use in any library.

The adoption of Alma moves along a steady course, continuing a pattern in which academic libraries selecting Alma as their resource management environment pair it with Ex Libris Primo for discovery. This pattern isn't absolute. Ex Libris has also committed to extending Summon, the discovery service created by ProQuest, so that it can be offered as a front-end discovery interface for Alma. I'm confident that this development is underway and will be fulfilled, but I am not aware of libraries implementing this configuration. Another important event in loosening the bond between Alma and Primo is the University of Pennsylvania Libraries selecting Alma, not acquiring Primo, and instead planning to use a customized Blacklight interface.

Developments in Open Source

This has been an interesting period for the open source library software arena. The development and adoption of Koha continues on a steady course. Koha has become ever richer in functionality, and its technical underpinnings have become stronger. The ability to use Elasticsearch and the Plack framework are a couple of examples of development work to enhance the performance and scalability of the system. Likewise, Evergreen continues to see incremental improvements in functionality and a steady number of new libraries--primarily in the form of additions to existing consortial implementations. Open source ILSs have become a routine segment of the library-technology industry and represent important competition to the proprietary products, driving improvements and innovation on both fronts.

EBSCO Information Services helped launch FOLIO, an open source initiative to create a new style of library services platform. This new product will differ not only in its open source development model, but also in its overall design and technical architecture. Those involved with the project describe it as a lightweight platform designed to support a microservices environment in which diverse types of modules can be created to address specific areas of functionality. This approach differs from existing library services platforms, such as Alma and WorldShare Management Services, which provide a platform that offers a more comprehensive approach to functionality. FOLIO stands out as an important initiative worth following given its backing from EBSCO and initial signs of interest in at least some sectors of the library development community.

This year saw the unravelling of the Kuali OLE project to develop an open source library services platform for academic libraries. Underway since 2008, with the support of multiple rounds of funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Kuali OLE software faced insurmountable obstacles in its ongoing development, primarily due to business events, leading to the establishment of KualiCo as a new commercial company. It assumed a position as the primary developer for the Kuali projects. KualiCo's decision not to continue development of Kuali Rice--the critical business infrastructure supporting Kuali OLE--represented a major blow to the project. The three libraries that had implemented Kuali OLE were using it only for print resource management. …

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