My father would have called that title two-thirds of a pun. I will let you extrapolate that one yourselves.
Ex Libris Group announced today that Robert Mercer has been appointed president of the Ex Libris Group North American subsidiary, effective immediately. Mercer was most recently a regional vice- president and general manager at SAS Institute, Inc. Mercer will replace Dan Trajman who joined Ex Libris in March 2004. Trajman will stay on in a consultative role through 2007.
“I am excited to be joining such a creative, forward-looking company with a large, active customer base,” noted Mercer. “I have been impressed with the strength and clarity of the strategic direction presented by Ex Libris to continue providing the evolving library automation industry with the most effective technological solutions. I look forward to meeting our customers at the upcoming user and industry events next month.”
If you’re familiar with “The Triangle” (Raleigh-Durham–Chapel Hill) then you know that SAS is one of those great places to work that everyone is always talking about. I’ve lost a programmer or two to SAS, and it’s well known that the turnover there is very low, so Ex Libris should be proud to have lured one away.
Mercer’s skills in building customer relationships and satisfaction will be needed in this transitional time for Ex Libris. His experience with analytics software might be a nice addition to the library space. We are a profession that loves to count things but sometimes we have trouble making heads or tails of the numbers.
Ex Libris’s announcement also stands in stark contrast to SirsiDynix’s continuing search for new leadership. It’s been two-and-a-half months since Patrick Sommers stepped down from the helm of the largest ILS vendor. Many would have expected for an heir to be in place, but the search (one assumes) continues.
It is nothing new to see vendor leadership emerge from outside the library industry. This has been going on for some time. I have little doubt that the library old-timers will use their status to distinguish themselves, as they have every right to do. Nevertheless, the true distinction between library automation vendors should and will be their strategic vision, the competence of their leadership, and the directions and innovations of the company. Otherwise, customer fidelity will wane.
All these announcements about changes in leadership at vendors may seem mundane or relatively inconsequential at times, but taken as a whole, they are part of the generally shifting landscape of the library automation industry. Unlike some of my more radically inclined colleagues, I refuse to predict (or even hope for) that industry’s demise. Besides, it’s just too darn fun to keep track of it all.
[This post originally appeared as part of American Libraries’ Hectic Pace Blog and is archived here.]