Kuali library systems project wins Mellon grant

UChicago Library and peers developing open source Kuali OLE software for research libraries

The Kuali Open Library Environment received a $750,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to develop an open, community-based library software system. OLE was launched in 2009 in part from a $2.3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation and is designed to help libraries manage and deliver an ever-increasing number of digital resources and collections.

The Kuali OLE (pronounced Oh-LAY) project was founded by a partnership of research libraries, including the University of Chicago Library, Indiana University (lead), Duke University, North Carolina State University, University of Florida, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, Lehigh University and Villanova University.  The collaborating institutions have pooled resources and expertise along with generous investments from the Mellon Foundation to develop this next-generation system.

University of Chicago Library staff members have played an integral role in the development of Kuali OLE since the design phase in 2008 and continue to do so by developing specifications, participating in software development, undertaking migration planning, providing subject specialist expertise, and testing systems. Twelve UChicago staff members currently serve in leadership positions and as subject matter experts on the Kuali OLE team and dozens more are participating in working groups supporting development activities. 

“Kuali OLE is developed by academic librarians for academic libraries and is tailored to meet the expanding needs of our users,” said Judith Nadler, Director and University Librarian at the University of Chicago and member of the OLE Board. 

“Participating in the development of Kuali OLE allows its library developers to implement new standards and technologies as they evolve,” explained James Mouw, the University of Chicago Library’s Associate University Librarian for Collections Services, who serves as a member of the Kuali OLE Functional Council and treasurer of the OLE Board.  “We are making the system flexible and extensible to manage information about our large and growing print collections while also providing the infrastructure to manage and deliver electronic resources, providing a full range of services to Library users in a rapidly changing information environment.”

The University of Chicago and Lehigh University will be the first implementers of the inventive solution platform for academic libraries later this year.  At UChicago, Kuali OLE will replace the Library’s current integrated library system, Horizon, which has been in use since 1995. “The University of Chicago is proud to be an OLE early implementer because we are eager to enhance our own library business processes by using the flexible framework that OLE provides while helping our OLE partnership to develop a sure path to OLE implementation for like size research libraries,” said Nadler.

Development of a new UChicago catalog that will interface with Kuali OLE

Kuali OLE is intentionally being designed to function with a wide range of user interfaces chosen by various individual libraries. In addition to working on the Kuali OLE team, UChicago Library staff members are now developing a new catalog—the user interface that will allow faculty, students and others to access the full range of the library’s resources, including those that will be stored and managed by the Kuali OLE infrastructure, as well as Special Collections finding aids and archival and other collections.   

The new catalog will be based on the open source program VuFind, originally developed at Villanova University.  It is being tailored to meet the needs and preferences of local users based on interviews and testing with UChicago faculty and students. For more information about the development of the new UChicago Library catalog, visit the Library news site.

“We are especially pleased that by implementing OLE and VuFind we will be providing both a business system and a patron access module that are open source—planned, designed, governed and owned by the library community,” said Mouw.

Grant support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

“Collaboration among universities is essential for this decade, and the libraries are leading with the Kuali OLE Project,” said Brad Wheeler, Indiana University’s vice president for information technology and CIO and chair of the Kuali Foundation Board. “We remain grateful to the Mellon Foundation for their first visionary investment in the Kuali Financial System in 2005 and yet again this investment for the libraries.”

In March 2012, the Mellon Foundation also made a grant of $499,000 to North Carolina State University that allows Kuali OLE to partner with JISC Collections (United Kingdom) to create an open Web service that provides electronic resource information on a global scale.

About Kuali

The Kuali Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping educational and non-profit institutions solve problems through approaches that benefit from collective action and coordination.   Software offered via Kuali in addition to Kuali OLE includes Kuali Finance, Kuali Coeus for Research Administration, Kuali Student, Kuali People Management, Kuali Mobility, and Kuali Ready.  Kuali software is available, without fee, for anyone to use or modify under the Educational Community License.

For more information on Kuali OLE visit http://kuali.org/ole

For Indiana University’s news release about the Mellon grant visit http://newsinfo.iu.edu/news/page/normal/23726.html

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