Our Story

While Innovative can point to over 35 years of software development and advancements, we know that our history is not enough. It’s the lessons we’ve learned, the ways we’ve grown and expanded, and the tenets we stand by that illustrate why Innovative is the library automation market leader today.

We are driven by the same mission as our customers: to provide the best service possible to library patrons. To this end, we create breakthrough product solutions. We keep pace with technology and library trends.  We believe in open systems and integrated workflows. We advocate for libraries and their patrons.

Curious about our history? Here’s a brief look into the advancements and achievements that have gotten us here today.

Founded in 1978, Innovative’s first product illustrated the origin of the company’s name by providing a revolutionary and timesaving software solution for bibliographic record processing. (For the history buffs: Innovative provided an interface that allowed libraries to download bibliographic records into a third-party circulation system without re-keying.) After securing the first “black box” installations at CSU Sacramento and UC Riverside, Innovative’s customer base grew quickly and set the company on a path to success.

The next two decades were a time of growth as Innovative launched the first truly integrated library system (ILS) called INNOPAC in the 1980s, which included a public access catalog, circulation, and serials and acquisition modules. This system was a precursor to Millennium, which became the leading and most trusted ILS in the marketplace when it launched in the 1990s. To illustrate its commitment to customers, Innovative also launched its customer service website, CSDirect, to support libraries with Web-based call initiation and reporting, as well as a wealth of information, training, and product tutorials.

In addition to providing both the platform and the support for library automation in the 1990s, Innovative created its first resource sharing system, INN-Reach, to increase dramatically the speed and cost effectiveness of resource sharing. To expand its international presence, Innovative also purchased SLS Information Systems of Great Britain.

Ten years later, Innovative started development on Encore to redefine discovery and bring electronic articles and local collections of all kinds together in a single search. Coupled with system expansions to integrate self-check, digital content, and electronic administrative tools, Innovative continued to be on the forefront of technological advancement through the 2000s, made especially clear by the first-to-market Electronic Resource Management.

Fast-forward to today where Innovative’s products illustrate this accumulation of knowledge and experience. Our Library Services Platform (LSP), Sierra, provides a truly open platform that allows libraries to connect to a range of services and third-party providers. Launched in 2012, Sierra became the highest rated Integrated Library System/Library Service Platform (ILS/LSP) for both customer satisfaction and completeness of functionality in 2013.

But Innovative hasn’t been content to rest on its laurels – in April of 2014 the company acquired Polaris Library Systems, a leading provider of technology to public libraries in the U.S. that has also been a leader in customer service and support.  By bringing the two companies’ public library expertise under one roof, we will be sharing best practices and ultimately accelerating the pace of product development.

Innovative’s systems can be found in more than 50 countries with over 2,100 systems installed that move tens of millions of items each year. Innovative also leads in installed systems among members of the Association for Research Libraries and the Urban Library Council. Innovative looks forward to many more years of technological advancements and growth as we continue to support libraries, their staff, and the patrons we all serve.