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State of the Industry — The Whole Nine Yards

In my editorial in Information Today this month, I opine about the linear nature of blogs and how things that actually go together tend to get broken up among pages, becoming difficult to find.

Long story short, here’s a final wrap-up of the video interviews we conducted in London last month for our State of the Industry report.  I’ve included links so you can pick and choose or hop from one video to the next.

Helping Libraries Become Knowledge Centers

Matthew Drury, Director of International Sales, Serials Solutions

Ex Libris:  Towards Openness and Convergence

Marc Daubach, Corporate V.P., General Manager, Europe, Ex Libris Group,

OCLC:  Make Libraries More Productive

Jay Jordan, President of OCLC

Advice from Nature Publishing Group:  Add “Real” Value

Grace Baynes

SIIA:  It All Depends on What Market Sector You’re In

Ed Keating, V.P., Content Division, SIIA

Springer:  “Cautiously Optimistic”

Springer V.P., Eric Merkel-Sobotta

Getting Back to Basics at Financial Times

Caspar de Bono, managing director, FT Business

Looking Forward to a Challenging 2010

Anthea Stratigos, co-founder and CEO, Outsell

Keys to Success:  Collaboration, Partnership, Integration

Rossella Proscia, Marketing Director, Gale Cengage

Industry Bright Spots:  Health and Medical Information

Karen Abramson, President and CEO, Medical Research, Wolters Kluwer

Andrew Richardson, Managing Director, Europe and V.P. of Business Development for Wolters Kluwer Health

Bad Times Creating Good Times for Info Pros

Mary Ellen Bates, independent information professional

In Companies “Smart” Info Pros Get Imbedded

Anne Caputo (DowJones), President-Elect, SLA

Business Is Booming for Independent Info Pros

Marcy Phelps, president, Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP)

Industry Outlook:  Seeing What the Week Will Tell

FreePint General Manager Robin Neidorf

Who Will Dominate the Technology Space?

David Snowden, founder and chief scientific officer at Cognitive Edge

P.S. — Stephen Abram Is Moving to Gale Cengage

Much could be made, I suppose, of the news today that Stephen Abram, who has been the public face of SirsiDynix for many years and chief innovation officer inside the company, is leaving SirsiDynix at the end of the year.

But before you start reading between the lines, both Stephen and company representatives assure me that he wasn’t fired , didn’t leave under any duress, and his departure should not be viewed as a bad sign about the industry or a bad omen about the company.

Rather, according to Stephen, it was sheer magnetism.  He simply found the opportunity to work with one of the world’s largest content aggregators and information service providers irresistible.  Starting in January, he will lead strategy development at Gale Cengage.

When I met with Stephen earlier this month in London, he had–as always–some interesting and passionate things to say about libraries in the current environment.  Though it could not have been planned, his remarks seem an appropriate way to end our state-of-the-industry coverage.

Stephen Abram on market conditions: Nostalgic views of what libraries are, need to “go away.”  In order for libraries to remain, they must change.  It is a transformational era.  There are fundamental shifts taking place.  It’s no longer about search and retrieval, but experience.  Libraries must examine what they do for today’s information users and adjust to the now.  Library skills are valuable and should be applied in new ways.

State of the Information Industry — In Summation

According to those we spoke with at the Online Information show in London earlier this month, the year ahead  promises to be another challenging one for both libraries and information vendors.

The word, “challenging,” of course is a relative term often euphemistically connoting the worst of difficulties, but most people we saw in London had a sigh of relief in their voices.

You can hear the inflection for yourself, as well as see the look on people’s faces, by watching the video interviews further down in this blog.  There are a dozen, or so, in all.

How has the industry weathered the difficult year just passing, and how is it preparing for 2010?

  • Independent information professionals reported that they have been the beneficiaries of an upswell in out-sourced business in 2009, the ironic result of reduced internal resources within the commercial sector.  On the upside, the info pros observe that companies are appreciating more and more how much they need information, the value of information services, and the important role that information professionals play. So, the desperate year just ending may yet reveal a silver lining for both independent information professionals and those looking for newly opening positions in the commercial sector.
  • Vendors, for the most part, were “cautiously optimistic” about the year ahead.  Many are waiting to see how the 2009 economic difficulties have impacted library budgets for 2010.  According to the analysts and industry observers we met with in London, things are brightest for those who provide medical/healthcare information or government data, but even those in the troubled news industry are projected to see an end to the revenue death spiral they experienced in 2009.
  • Most of the people we interviewed were quick to point out that conditions vary both by market sector and by geographic region.  While US information budgets may remain contracted this year, some vendors see hope in emerging markets.  So, in 2010 many vendors will be continuing to focus on growth opportunities abroad, which will help them maintain viability while US markets recover.
  • Other vendors stressed the importance of delivering services that help their customers reduce costs, increase revenues, or improve efficiency.  And a good number advocated that vendors be sensitive to conditions in libraries and offer libraries and librarians good value for money in order to help them serve more patrons with fewer resources.  Many also stressed the importance of focusing on services that will help libraries evolve and develop into the knowledge centers of tomorrow.

In looking for the industry’s story, we talked with users, vendors, and analysts.

You’ll find expanded and related coverage in the forthcoming January edition of  Information Today.

Thanks for joining us this year for our annual Live from London blog.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for the New Year

Helping Libraries Become Knowledge Centers

Matthew Drury, Director of International Sales, Serials Solutions was upbeat when I spoke with him yesterday in London.

In this interview, he talks about how libraries are expanding their electronic collections and considering how to deliver content to the devices–including both laptops and hand-helds–their users want to employ to access library collections.

Recognizing that libraries acquiring ebook collections today face the same challenges in managing ebook records that they do when acquiring ejournal collections, Serials Solutions recently announced an “ebook normalization” standard, which Drury said, will help libraries condense multiple ebook holdings into a single record.

Watch the video.

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Ex Libris: Towards Openness and Convergence

Libraries are asking where are vendors going? what kind of strategies are they deploying? what do I do with my print collection in a digital world?  And they are looking for vendors to share their vision, says Marc Daubach, Corporate V.P., General Manager, Europe, Ex Libris Group, in this interview.

The Ex Libris vision embraces  open source solutions within its products and advocates openness in data as well.  The company does not see it as an either/or (left or right hand) choice.   It’s all destined to come together, even content and systems.

In addition to discussing market conditions around the world, the interview contains an update on the massive Ex Libris project to develop a “Unified Resource Management System” that will handle both print and electronic resources.  The development effort for this project is being conducted by Ex Libris in a transparent way, involving libraries closely in defining  the new system, which is planned for release in 2012.

Watch the video.

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OCLC: Make Libraries More Productive

“These are extreme and stressful times,” notes Jay Jordan, President of OCLC, at the start of this interview.  But how extreme and stressful conditions are tends to depend upon where the library is geographically located.

In the U.S., library budgets are constrained and will remained constrained for some time.  Jay suggests the providers help libraries get costs down so they can continue to serve their constituents while operating with less money and fewer people.  The key is, help libraries be more productive.

Outside the US, Jay notes that opportunities exist for reaching new markets,including in China, Australia, Euruope and the Middle East.

Should libraries turn to Open Source systems or hosted solutions to reduce their costs?  It may be an answer for some.

Watch the video to learn more from OCLC’s broad perspective.

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Advice from Nature Publishing Group: Add “Real” Value

It seems like Nature Publishing Group (NPG) is always pushing the envelope when it comes to content stuff.   In this interview, NPG’s Grace Baynes notes that while 2008 and 2009 may have been about developing and deploying products with social networking capabilities, the opportunities that lie ahead require content and business model innovation.  Some touch points she suggests that publishers think about are Open Access, mobile devices and ebook readers.  Some may also need to rethink pricing and licensing terms.

Watch the video.

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SIIA: It All Depends on What Market Sector You’re In

For content companies, it’s not quite business as usual, but there remains a strong need for various kinds of content and content services.

In financial markets, there’s been a reduction in force, with an associated loss of content “seats.”   As the financial sector makes its inevitable comeback, the financial content business should come back, too.  But that’s not necessarily soon.

With legal information and STM markets, there are demands for a change in the business models.

Each segment has been affected differently, says Ed Keating, V.P., Content Division, SIIA, in this video interview, recorded yesterday at Online Information in London.

Ed identifies some strategies that content companies are following during this time in order to be better positioned for future growth.

Watch the video.

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Springer: “Cautiously Optimistic”

With regard to the general state of the industry and prospects for the future, we got what is, quite possibly, our most honest response from STM publisher Springer, which operates in a part of the industry regarded as a bright spot by analysts.

Watch this short clip from our interview with Springer V.P. Eric Merkel-Sobotta.

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Getting Back to Basics at Financial Times

For a man working in the most recessed of the recessed publishing sectors–the news business–Caspar de Bono, managing director, FT Business, was particularly upbeat when we met with him in London.

It might well be the worst of times,and yet de Bono persisted in depicting the current environment as the best of times.

Economic pressures this year have caused many in the industry to reconsider what they are doing, go back to first principles, and ask such fundamental questions as who are we? and what is it that we actually do for our customers to help them be more productive and make better business decisions themselves.

Watch the video.

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