If FOLIO is anything, then it is the output of a community of partners who are willing to share goals, effort and risks to create a platform for libraries. Part of this shared community is also a sharing of needs. Needs such as “I need someone who understand my library workflows, who speaks my language, who operates in my time zones”. FOLIO has always been an aggregation of global players and partners who can understand and support libraries regionally.
EBSCO understands these needs and has created a network of partners across the globe to support libraries locally. There are currently 26 EBSCO FOLIO partners in North and Latin America, Asia Pacific, India, South Africa, the Middle East, and eastern and western Europe. EBSCO’s aim is to leverage their library system expertise and networks to provide channels for libraries to adopt FOLIO with implementation and support specialists who understand how libraries operate in a particular country.
EBSCO does this by first vetting potential partners – looking to which ones have a strong track record and are well liked by their customers. Not all make the grade. Secondly, we engage with the partners, many of whom are already FOLIO-savvy but are looking for a way into the community, to listen to their objectives and where they see FOLIO fitting into what they do now. We talk about how EBSCO can help them, support them and what a partnership would look like from a pragmatic and commercial perspective.
If both sides are happy, then we sign a formal agreement and begin the process of bringing the partner up to speed. EBSCO invests heavily in our partners, because we know that they will be the first port of call for many libraries, and that the experience must be a good one for customers, for partners, for EBSCO and the whole FOLIO community. That investment takes the form of regular training sessions, 1:1 calls with teams from across EBSCO, joint sales and marketing efforts and individual FOLIO demo systems hosted by EBSCO.
Like everything in FOLIO, the process is evolving. The key to the success of the partnerships is that we keep communicating, learning from each other, and adjusting what we do and how we do it, so that libraries making the move to FOLIO can be comfortable that their support needs are being met locally, while being back by EBSCO’s global team of implementers, trainers and support personnel.
Evidence of the success of this approach lies in the customers who have adopted it – four universities in the US, one national library in Italy, one academic library in South Africa, another in Spain and another to come in Germany all use EBSCO FOLIO partners to implement and support FOLIO, while EBSCO provides hosting, other SaaS solutions and second-line support. Encouragingly, FOLIO partners are developing FOLIO too, notably: a language translation tool from Knowledgeware Technologies in Saudi Arabia, ILL support in the UK from PTFS Europe, and the potential for local cataloguing integration in a number of countries in Europe.
Finally, the EBSCO FOLIO Partner community is a testament to the diversity of the FOLIO project, incorporating highly skilled people from a wide variety of backgrounds, countries and languages for the common good.