RMG Presidents' Seminar Explores Library Technology Trends

By Patrick Hogan |

RMG Consultants will lead their 22nd Annual Presidents' Seminar on Friday, January 20, 2012, at ALA's Midwinter Meeting at the Dallas Convention Center (Rooms A201/A202) . This year's theme is "Invasion of the Customer Snatchers into a Saturated and Content-Driven ILS Marketplace"

Senior executives of library technology companies will answer questions from moderator Rob McGee of RMG as well as the audience. Smart Libraries Newsletter editor Marshall Breeding will weigh in as a special commentator along with RMG's Geoff Payne. The companies and panelists expected this year are:

  • Auto-Graphics,  Paul Cope
  • ByWater Solutions,  Brendan Gallagher
  • Ex Libris,  Matti Shem-Tov
  • Infor,  Ann Melaerts
  • Innovative Interfaces,  Neil Block
  • OCLC,  Robin Murray
  • Polaris,  Bill Schickling
  • Serials Solutions/ProQuest,  Jane Burke
  • SirsiDynix,  Bill Davison
  • The Library Corporation (TLC),  Annette Murphy
  • VTLS,  Vinod Chachra

McGee will solicit opinions on how library workflows must change with the shift from print to electronic resources, Patron-Driven Acquisitions (PDA)/Demand-Driven Acquisitions (DDA), e-Book Lending, Discovery Services with access to Open Content and pay-per-download of licensed content, the synergies and competition among the technology and content sectors of the library industry. He will also seek comments on the competive environment wth new web-scale library management system players and vendors supporting Open Source Integrated Library Systems going after the customers of established players.

RMG's Presidents' Seminar is a terrific opportunity to learn about the library technology marketplace. Even while executives strive to to stay on message with their competitive advantages, the open forum explores library technology trends and reveals how vendors are positioning themselves.

Below are the trends and topics that RMG has identified.

    For a vendor in the saturated North American ILS marketplace, getting a new-name customer can mean snatching a library from somebody else’s ILS customer base – or selling it an add-on product or service.

    Content increasingly rules, and cloud services have gathered; this combination challenges legacy library automation systems designed and created before the dominance of e-content and the Internet. Discovering, accessing, and delivering e-content is a compelling alternative (or complement) to a library’s investment in a traditional ILS package of standard modules – along with a tug in another strategic direction for the ROI (Return on Investment) in RFID/AMH (Automated Material Handling) systems for gains in customer services and staff performance in managing books and AV materials.

    Industry dynamics in the last three years have been game-changers. Bywater Solutions, Equinox Software, and Liblime/PTFS have successfully commercialized the development and support of Open Source ILSs -- Evergreen and Koha. ILSaaS (Integrated Library System as a Service, including the web-scale offerings) is flattening the costs of open source and proprietary ILSs. Baker & Taylor and 3M now offer e-book lending (circulation control) services. In June 2011 Serials Solutions announced a Web-Scale Management Solution to debut in 4Q 2012. These together with Ex Libris’ Alma, Kuali OLE, Innovative’s Sierra, and OCLC’s WMS offer opportunities for improved library workflows and customer services that overcome the costly inefficiency and awkwardness of differentiated processes for selection, acquisition, discovery, access, and delivery of e- and p-resources.

    The pairing of ILS/Discovery by Ex Libris, Innovative, and OCLC has impacted the academic library sector. Discovery and delivery services that focus on public libraries and the e-resources provided by State Library agencies have yet to emerge in needed force to benefit millions of readers who go about public library use largely unaware of expensive licensed e-content that could be within easy reach for them with the right interfaces and services on laptops, phones, and tablets.

    The biggest slices of library budgets are for people/content: in the extreme, 20/80 for academic libraries; 70/30 for public libraries. Annual expenditures for e-resources may reach 80% of some academic library content budgets. Targeting increased ROI in people and content is a strategic direction for libraries.

    The sheer financial might of Baker & Taylor, OCLC, ProQuest/Serials Solutions, and 3M separates them from the traditional denizens of the ILS marketplace. That, coupled with their ability or potential to deliver e-content, discovery, and ILS services on a subscription basis just might be the forces that re-shape the library technology marketplace. Will 3M expand Cloud Library to include an ILS service; or will Baker & Taylor or EBSCO or Gale take the WMS-plunge? Remember Elsevier and Endeavor/Voyager?

    Will the Invasion of the ILS Customer Snatchers be advanced through mergers and acquisitions (M&A) of library technology and/or content vendors?

    Are we a step away from Amazon or Facebook or Google or Microsoft launching services that one-up Amazon’s recently introduced e-book lending services, that could partner or compete with libraries to reach individuals, homes, schools, and businesses?

    Will Apple’s iCloud and Siri (think out of the single-search box) lead to Internet, Cable, and TV services that make information as easy to find and use, and as much fun and effective, as the iPhone and iPad?