Meeting on the ledge

(or why I don't get out much…..)

Perceptions 2009

The latest of Marshall Breeding’s invaluable Perceptions surveys has just been published.  As you’ll know if you’ve seen the previous 2 years surveys, this looks at the library automation market from the point of view of the library, and is a very useful source to counterbalance the regular announcements made by the LMS suppliers. The supplier which comes out the best is a fairly new company Biblionix, whose system Apollo is marketed at small US public libraries. Perhaps by targetting a customer base with ‘similar’ needs they avoid having to spread development and support work as widely as some other suppliers?

From a personal point of view I’m pleased to see Innovative come out as what Breeding calls a strong performer – their average customer satisfaction score comes out as 7.13%, significantly above the other companies which I’d call direct competitors in the UK HE market. In the anonymised comments some customers do mention their high costs and the ‘closed’ nature of the system however. I was sad to see that the low scores for SirsiDynix of the previous 2 years have continued however, and their customers don’t seem much more impressed by their newest system Symphony than they are by the older ‘legacy’ products such as Horizon and Dynix Classic. Unfortunately there weren’t enough replies from Talis libraries to allow direct comparison in the main tables, but the detailed information which Breeding gives shows that while average satisfaction seems relatively high the company still has its issues.

What did surprise me was the relatively low enthusiasm for Open Source. Those libraries which have gone that way themselves seem keen – Breeding describes this as ‘a minority of early adopters voicing strong support’ – but there seems less interest in Open Source than I’d expected, even from those libraries which express dissatisfaction with their current system. Sarah Bartlett on the Panlibus blog wonders if this represents waning interest in Open Source, although it may just be that now it is becoming a genuine alternative that librarians are taking a more realistic attitude? I don’t know how realistic Open Source is for a library with perhaps one Systems Manager unless they use a support company such as PTFS, Biblibre or TTLLP?. Liblime comes under some criticism in the survey, even though I think the responses were probably all in before the news of the recent merger came out(?).  Interestingly those libraries which have installed Koha themselves without Liblime’s assistance rated it better than those who used Liblime, which perhaps represents different attitudes to the system rather than differences in the system itself.  Evergreen, mainly supported by Equinox, came in the middle of the satisfaction ratings.

So what is the state of the market? I’m not sure that the ‘traditional’ LMS can continue in its basic form for much longer, certainly for the academic market, as eresources grow ever more important and our users change their demands, needs and learning styles. Some companies seem more aware of this than others, and it is those who know their customers better who will survive, possibly shown in the success of Biblionix. Hence Marshall Breeding’s survey should be required reading for all LMS suppliers.

February 2, 2010 - Posted by | Libraries | , ,

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