Kuali OLE System Partners receive $882,000 grant from Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has made a grant of $882,000 for the Kuali Open Library Environment, an open-source, community-based library software system created by a partnership of some of the nation’s leading university libraries.

“Kuali OLE is a library management system 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.  “The system provides access to growing collections, including vast amounts of print and licensed digital content, as well as an ever-increasing amount of local, ‘born digital’ content.”

Kuali OLE partners

Kuali OLE Partners

Kuali OLE was founded by a partnership of research libraries that now includes University of Chicago, Indiana University (lead), the Bloomsbury Library Management System consortium, Lehigh University, Duke University, North Carolina State University, University of Florida, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University. The partners have pooled resources and expertise with investments from the Mellon Foundation to develop this next-generation library system.

The OLE project was launched in 2009 with a $2.3 million grant from the Mellon Foundation and matching funds from the Kuali OLE founding partners. With this latest grant, Mellon has now donated more than $4 million for the OLE project.

“The receipt of this additional funding speaks to the Mellon Foundation’s continued support for the Kuali OLE project and comes at a most opportune time,” said James Mouw, Associate University Librarian for Collection Services at the University of Chicago Library and member of the OLE Executive Board.  “This grant will allow the partnership to continue our work to fully realize our vision of OLE as an infrastructure that supports library needs in an electronic and cooperative environment.”

With this grant, the OLE team will work to expand the community of libraries partnering with the project, while also continuing to fine-tune software with an eye toward the version 2.0 release later this year. The University of Chicago and Lehigh University will be the first implementers of OLE, currently planned for summer 2014.

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. UChicago staff members hold several key leadership positions and serve as subject matter experts on the Kuali OLE team, and dozens more are participating in working groups supporting development activities. Among the project leads are Frances NcNamara, Director of Integrated Library Systems and Administrative and Desktop Systems, and Stuart Miller, Library Systems Analyst.

New UChicago Catalog 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 beta testing 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 is 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. Learn more about the new Library catalog on the Library News site and participate in beta testing at catalog.lib.uchicago.edu.

“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.

Achieving efficiencies through collaboration

“The Kuali Foundation has always had as a core principle that we could reduce costs and increase system flexibility by applying a community development model and open-source licensing to large administrative systems,” said Bruce Taggart, vice provost for library and technology services at Lehigh University and current OLE board co-chair. “With Kuali OLE, we are opening this opportunity to all libraries.”

“Collaboration is an essential means for universities to achieve new economic efficiencies in higher education, and OLE accelerates the rich tradition of leading university libraries as they serve students and faculty in an increasingly digital age,” said Brad Wheeler, Indiana University’s vice president for information technology and CIO and chair of the Kuali Foundation Board. “This Mellon investment in libraries follows the success of multiple collaborative investments in the Kuali Foundation for big software systems among colleges and universities.”

About Kuali

The Kuali Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping educational and nonprofit institutions solve problems through approaches that benefit from collective action and coordination. In addition to Kuali OLE, software offered via Kuali 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.

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