The library services platform market continues to shrink with the December 5th announcement that Ex Libris has acquired Innovative. Innovative has long been a major player in the ILS/LSP arena but in recent years has seen a number of its academic customers migrate to Ex Libris products or other systems. Many public libraries remain Innovative customers and this acquisition gives Ex Libris a foothold in that market. Library Technology Guides show that Ex Libris' next-generation platform, Alma, is currently in use in only 6 public libraries. Sierra, Innovative's most current product is in use at 1383 public libraries. The Polaris platform, which Innovative acquired several years ago, is still in use at 1355 public libraries. While Ex Libris will benefit in gaining customers among public libraries, Innovative, on the other hand, will no doubt stand to benefit from Ex Libris' cloud technology infrastructure and greater pool of development resources.
According to the the FAQ on the acquisition, Innovative will continue to operate as a separate business unit within Ex Libris. There will be no immediate changes to Innovative's management structure, product lineup and technical support system, including third-party integrations with other systems. While current Innovative customers may eventually see the benefits of Ex Libris development resources, ultimately this acquisition means less real choice in the LSP/ILS marketplace. Libraries looking for a new system to support changing needs will have fewer options from which to choose.