Barbara Rad-El, Senior Librarian, Ex Libris
This year Ex Libris is celebrating its 30th anniversary. This remarkable milestone caused me to stop, pause, and think about my own personal journey with this amazing company.
I joined Ex Libris in 1991. At that time there were actually two companies – Aleph Yissum, located at the Hebrew University, which developed the Aleph software, and Ex Libris, which marketed it. These two companies merged a few years later.
Many of my activities in those early years involved travelling abroad to demonstrate Aleph to various university libraries. What did this mean in those pre-Internet days? I travelled with the Aleph software copied onto a disk (at first a Digital TK50 disk with a stunning 94mb of memory…) and had to first install it on one of the university’s computers before I could start my presentation. If I ran into difficulties I would then have to phone the head office, to get the help of our brilliant programmer, Yohanan Spruch, who was always able to visualize what I had done wrong, and would always help me eventually get it right.
Some years passed and the computer revolution was well under way. Aleph was ported from VAX/VMS to UNIX. Eventually I found myself travelling with a small UNIX machine (no more of those tricky installations); we progressed from Aleph 200, to Aleph 300, and then to Aleph 500, with a new graphic user interface, client server—all the buzz words. For me this meant that I could travel with two laptops—one a server, and the other the client. (Not much room for personal hand luggage with those two…)
Thinking back over those years, I remember a few landmarks – the first Aleph System Seminar in Israel in 1992 with 40 participants; the first American Aleph Users meeting (no name for the group at that time) held in a hotel suite at an ALA in San Antonio with about 8-10 participants; how the user groups ICAU and NAAUG and SMUG (!) grew into IGeLU and ELUNA with hundreds of members.
As Ex Libris grew, we developed additional products: SFX, MetaLib, Verde, Primo, and now of course Alma. Who in those far off days could have envisioned the changes in the computer world? If the word ‘cloud’ was mentioned – it was just about the weather; SaaS – you did mean ‘sassy’, right?
I am still with Ex Libris, now a devotee of Alma as I was (and still am) a devotee of Aleph. I am sure that the company will continue to grow and expand, with the vision that it has so ably demonstrated for all the many long years of its existence.
What memories do you have from the past 30 years with Ex Libris? Let us know in the comments below!