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April 2010

The Business Side of Library Automation

I think that a library’s approach to technology should be more about partnerships than procurements. Acquiring a new technology product isn’t necessarily just about the current snapshot of its features and functionality, but also about the alignment between the library’s strategic directions and that of its technology partners. It’s important to know as much as we can about these organizations in terms of business
stability, commitment to the industry, and especially about their broad vision for library
technology and the roadmap of where their products are heading.

Given my perspective that we should look to our technology providers as partners, I think that the configuration of the businesses involved with libraries is a very important thing to consider. The library automation industry today includes some companies owned and managed by their original founders. Others have involvement with external private equity or venture capital investors. One of the major players is a non-profit membership organization. The size of these companies ranges from small firms employing only a handful of individuals to global companies with hundreds of employees. Some have a business model based on software license fees while we’re now seeing several that provide services surrounding open source software. An increasing number of library-oriented tech companies favor delivering their products through software-as-a-service. I don’t presume that any of the models are necessarily superior to the others—there are differences in the relative advantages and disadvantages of each one.

--Marshall Breeding

Also in this Issue

  • Management Buy-out at Polaris
  • Ex Libris consolidates, a Bit
  • Business Developments on the Open
    Source Front
  • WordPress for Library 2.0 and Beyond

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