The library technology industry took some significant turns in 2019. Ex Libris, a ProQuest company, acquired Innovative Interfaces and shifted the balance of power, strengthening Ex Libris’s position in technology for academic libraries and propelling it as a major player in public libraries. This move narrows the slate of competitors in an industry already offering few viable options for many libraries.
Technology for public library automation has been mired in stagnation. It takes a substantial level of development to both maintain existing products and build next-generation technologies for the emerging realities of a given library sector. Will Ex Libris opt to invent a new platform for public libraries, as it did for academics? How it responds may shape whether we see ongoing stasis or a new phase of innovation.
Consolidation can also accelerate the development of alternatives. Concern about the lack of options for academic libraries was a factor in the launch of the open source FOLIO project. This year FOLIO became more real when a library moved it into production for the first time; a cadre of major libraries is poised for implementation. Success among these early sites will shape whatever position FOLIO might hold in the next phase of academic library technologies.
New product categories have begun to emerge. Many companies look beyond the library as their sole audience for development and create products targeting their parent institutions or communities. Recent efforts include tech products that support teaching, such as reading-list applications, discovery services for open educational resources, and support for application program interfaces (APIs) and protocols that connect the library with student information systems. Interest in support services for higher-education research has increased. Research information systems have been available for quite some time, but this new wave of products positions libraries as research stakeholders.
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