Does the “next generation” LMS actually exist yet?

A workshop on the opening day of the LIBER 2016 on Next Generation Library Systems in Europe was an opportunity to catch up with developments in selecting and implementing systems for consortia or providing national bibliographic services in Finland, France, Germany, Norway and Sweden.  Each was at a different stage but in spite of significant differences in their constituents and roles their high-level aims were markedly similar.  Jerome Francome, presenting for ABES (France), posed the question that underlies all of these projects.  Is it possible to build a metadata platform that is:

  • Open
  • Federative
  • Real time
  • Complete

ABES, which supports the Union catalogue for France, is tendering for a system for 46 institutions including university and research organisations (60% of French HE libraries), due to end on 30 June.  It is likely to result in a multi-supplier award rather than a single solution.  Their aim is a national union catalogue built on the above principles, a national metadata repository, that will allow metadata sharing, linked open data with CC0 license, and allowing metadata from French publishers to be exposed in a way that the smaller publishers are not able to do themselves.

In Finland where the national union catalogue is Aleph-based, all university libraries are tendering for the next-generation back-end systems together under the National Library

Paasitorni Conference Centre, Helsinki

of Finland’s leadership. A decision is expected in the early autumn.

The jury is still out on whether these systems represent a radical step forward that allows libraries to re-think the way they acquire, create, and share data.  Those still in the tendering process remain optimistic although they are aware of the limitations of the options currently available.

A major question for national or sector-wide consortia is whether a traditional national or union catalogue still has a role when all of the participants are using the same LMS and the LMS supplier is providing a network-level repository of catalogue records.  What is the impact of the new generation systems on traditional co-operative arrangements?
What happens if the consortial members converge around two suppliers, as is largely the case in Germany where Ex Libris and OCLC dominate the market?  Prof. Dr. Andreas Degkwitz, Librarian of Humboldt-University, Berlin, explored the opportunities and risks in the world of “Software-as-a-service” library management systems and cloud-based data.  The six library consortia of Germany, using different systems attempted to synchronise catalogues to give ALMA and OCLC WMS users the opportunity to access each other’s data in their respective metadata environment.  As yet this hasn’t been successful, raising questions about how to bring the two worlds of German research libraries together.

Presentations from the workshop are available at

A presentation at the end of the workshop provided some indication of where the industry will go next when Christopher Spalding (EBSCO) spoke about the FOLIO project to develop an innovative open library services platform based on micro-services architecture through collaboration between the commercial sector and open source partners, including OLE, Bywater, EBSCO, and Sirsi Dynix.  Traditional players in the market are coming together with both commercial innovators and open source developers to take a fresh look at the architecture in particular.




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