What a week in merger news! Tis the season for…acquiring massive library systems providers, apparently. The hottest topic in the library world this week has been the announcement that ProQuest has signed an agreement to acquire Ex Libris. Read the press release from ProQuest here. This is just the latest in a long succession of acquisitions/mergers/buyouts that have dominated the library world this year. EBSCO buys YBP, ProQuest buys Coutts, ProQuest buys Ex Libris, I buy a new toaster oven…
If you’re keeping score, that’s ProQuest: 2, EBSCO: 1. But the year’s not over yet! OCLC anyone? Joking aside, the EBSCO/YBP and ProQuest/Coutts situation seemed a bit tit for tat, but the Ex Libris agreement is more of a surprise, particularly because many of us have been following the progress of ProQuest’s Intota system for some time, awaiting the day when it would be a viable player in the next-gen URMS market. What happens to Intota now? I imagine ProQuest will want to maintain the Intota Assessment product, which seems to be the only functional piece of the system so far, but I suspect they will not continue to pour resources (human and robot), energy, and funds into developing one system and maintaining another (Alma) that’s already fully operational and gaining massive traction among libraries.
The questions start flying quickly when these announcements are released. What does this mean for invoicing? Which platforms/products will remain and which will be absorbed by others or discontinued entirely? What does this mean for workflows? Who do I contact now? As someone responsible for much of the vendor contact in our library, my mind strays to how our existing channels of communication will be affected. Depending on size, location, etc., existing channels of communication may run the gamut from generic “support” emails or automated ticketing systems to a team of individuals dedicated to your library and with whom you have direct working relationships. If, like us, your library collaborates with both Ex Libris and ProQuest, you experience both the generic and the personal methods of communication. As with platforms and systems, my hope is that this acquisition means that they will cross-fertilize the most effective communication practices from both companies in order to provide the best possible service moving forward. How will this acquisition affect you and your library? What does this mean for communication?
And in heavenly book news, an extremely rare first edition of the King James Bible was found in a church cupboard at St. Giles Church in Wrexham. Fewer than 200 first editions exist today, though that number may rise if everyone agrees to clean out their cupboards more frequently. So, lesson learned!
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.