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  • Headquarters: Toronto, Canada
  • Acquisition Date: February 2020
  • Vertical Market: Public Libraries
  • Website:

How BiblioCommons Is Rewriting The Public Library Experience

The Visionaries

Since its inception, BiblioCommons has been a mission-driven business. Prior to the acquisition, its co-founders, Beth Jefferson, Patrick Kennedy and Marty Tarle were determined to change how people perceived and engaged with libraries. They believed that BiblioCommons could provide a much better online experience for public libraries in North America and help libraries to remain relevant and serve their communities better. Originally launched as a non-profit youth literacy initiative, BiblioCommons evolved to deliver better online catalogues for public libraries. Today, the company’s goal is to create shared digital spaces where public libraries thrive and are empowered to welcome, inspire, and connect the diverse communities they serve.

Thanks to this mission, North America’s public libraries quickly saw BiblioCommons as a long-term strategic partner, resulting in extremely low customer attrition. BiblioCommons’ customers trust that the business has their best interests at heart and is leading them into the digital future. Public libraries stand for trust, neutrality, openness, inspiration, education, and the freedom to explore one’s curiosity wherever it may lead, and BiblioCommons is continuously developing solutions to help grow the impact libraries have on their communities.

After over a decade of living their passion and making a difference, Beth and Patrick were ready to exit the business, leaving it in the capable hands of the team they had built. Volaris Group was the ideal acquirer. From inception, BiblioCommons focused on long-term growth and how to support public libraries throughout their ongoing digital transformation journeys. This aligns with Volaris’ own ‘buy and grow’ strategy.

The General Manager

Marty Tarle was promoted to General Manager of BiblioCommons in mid-2023. It’s a classic Volaris Group tale: Marty was the technology and software expert who helped his co-founders realise their vision to bring libraries into the digital age. Upon BiblioCommons’ acquisition in February 2020, Marty spent three years working across all areas of the business, from professional services to customer support, to learn best practices in each of those domains. This hands-on experience gave him direct insights into the inner workings of the business and, more importantly, exposed him to Volaris Group’s best-practice methodologies, which were being implemented across the company.

Volaris Group’s philosophy is to support career growth and promote from within. In the case of BiblioCommons, this meant bringing an interim General Manager into the business while Marty upskilled to fill the role.

An intentional plan was put in place. It was not a ‘let’s see what happens’ attitude, but rather a clear roadmap that I could follow. The entire process was transparent, and I knew exactly where I needed to upskill to be able to successfully lead the businesses. I had full support from Volaris Group throughout the process.

- Marty Tarle, General Manager, BiblioCommons

The VP of Customer Success

At heart, Erica Reynolds is a librarian. She was first introduced to BiblioCommons in 2010 while working at a public library in Kansas City. One year later, she left the library to join BiblioCommons because she instantly recognised how valuable the platform was for public libraries and she wanted to be a part of Beth and Patrick’s vision.

Historically, a library building is often one of the most beautiful and welcoming buildings in a town. Digital disruption is incredibly fast and ongoing though, and public libraries do not have the resources to build their own sophisticated and user-friendly digital platforms. BiblioCommons changed that. It’s a true multi-tenant, white- labelled Software as a Service (SaaS) product that not only helps libraries overcome digital disruption, but provides exceptional online experiences for library patrons.

- Erica Reynolds, VP of Customer Success, BiblioCommons

Erica wanted to be a part of the story that keeps public libraries at the heart of their communities in a digital age. Erica works closely with libraries to understand what their patrons need and how the digital experience supports
those needs. It’s a true partnership. When Beth and Patrick exited the business, maintaining the foundations of trust and partnership that had been built up over a decade became more important than ever before.

As visionary entrepreneurs, Beth and Patrick were well-known and trusted in this sector. We always say that we have 20 great ideas that we haven’t even gotten to yet because we have such a long-term vision. Volaris Group is the ideal acquirer for this business, but we still needed to let our libraries know that they were in good hands when Beth and Patrick left. They had been the faces of this business. Their passion built the BiblioCommons community, which is highly collaborative. Maintaining that community while we scale is one of the exciting challenges that we are currently facing, and why the processes and systems that we are putting in place are so important.

- Erica Reynolds, VP of Customer Success, BiblioCommons

The Business Growth Journey

As BiblioCommons continues to grow, new positions are created and filled. They are now operating across multiple regions, but still stay close to public libraries in order to deliver the right products to meet community needs.

Under Volaris Group’s leadership, BiblioCommons has focused on talent development and succession planning, with each employee understanding their role within the business. A culture of transparency and accountability also encourages employees to share their insights and ideas.

Volaris Group places a strong emphasis on data-driven decision-making and this has supported BiblioCommons’ continued growth over the three years since its acquisition. Everything now comes down to what the data says. Which products are performing? Which areas of the business could be doing better than expected? Where should additional investment be placed, and where should resources and energy be allocated towards or away from? The result has been a steady 15 percent year-on-year (YoY) growth in revenue since the acquisition.

One of BiblioCommons’ differentiators has been its focus on end-user research. If there is an intersection—or potential intersection—between libraries and patrons, the BiblioCommons team is paying attention to it and looking for
ways to improve access and experiences. Key to the company’s strategy is an ambition to solve for the entire library patron experience instead of creating point solutions. The business started with a digital library catalogue solution and today has solutions for websites, email marketing, native mobile apps, and event calendars.

As a mission-driven business, we always focus on how we can better serve the library community and library patrons. It’s incredibly fulfilling helping libraries solve a challenge that has been a big obstacle for them for many years and will impact the way they make decisions big and small, whether for the multi-year strategic planning or about ways to make their websites more engaging.

- Marty Tarle, General Manager, BiblioCommons