IU to Lead Library Software Development Project

Large academic research libraries manage and provide access to millions of items, using software to track interrelated transactions that range from ordering and paying for items to loaning materials to library patrons.

updated: 1/11/2010 11:13:07 AM

IU to Lead Library Software Development Project

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The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Indiana University a nearly $2.4 million grant to develop software to manage print and electronic collections for academic and research libraries throughout the world. IU will lead the Kuali OLE (Open Library Environment) project, a partnership of research libraries.

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Press Release

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- A $2.38 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to Indiana University will be used to develop software created specifically for the management of print and electronic collections for academic and research libraries around the world.

IU will lead the Kuali OLE (Open Library Environment) project, a partnership of research libraries dedicated to managing increasingly digital resources and collections. Together, these libraries will develop "community source" software that will be made available to libraries worldwide.

Kuali OLE (pronounced Oh-LAY) partners include Indiana University; Florida Consortium (University of Florida representing Florida International University, Florida State University, New College of Florida, Rollins College, University of Central Florida, University of Miami, University of South Florida and the Florida Center for Library Automation); Lehigh University; Triangle Research Libraries Network (represented by Duke University and North Carolina State University); University of Chicago; University of Maryland; University of Michigan; and the University of Pennsylvania.

Large academic research libraries such as these manage and provide access to millions of items, using software to track interrelated transactions that range from ordering and paying for items to loaning materials to library patrons.

As the nature of library collections expands to include more digital materials -- including leased electronic journals and digitized photograph collections -- libraries are increasingly interested in developing management software for these resources, said Interim Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries Carolyn Walters.

"Libraries now create, lease and share digital materials, but the systems in place for cataloging and tracking these items are based on print collections," said Walters. "With this project, we benefit from working together with a community of academic libraries that want to change the way that information is managed in the scholarly environment."

"Research libraries are in dire need of systems that can support the management of research collections for the next-generation scholar," said Robert H. McDonald, executive director for the project and IU's associate dean for library technologies. "This approach demonstrates the best of open-source software development, directed partnership resource needs, and a market of commercial support providers to truly align with the needs of research libraries within the higher education environment."

More than 200 libraries, educational institutions, professional organizations and businesses laid the groundwork for the Kuali OLE project by participating in the original OLE project, a design phase that was supported by an earlier grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and led by Duke University.

Kuali OLE project researchers will now work to create a next-generation library system that breaks away from print-based workflows and reflects the changing nature of library materials and new approaches to scholarly work.

OLE became an official project of the Kuali Foundation in November. Kuali is a community of universities, colleges, businesses and other organizations that have partnered to build and sustain community-source software for higher education. This affiliation gives Kuali OLE tremendous expertise in developing and sustaining community-based software.

"The Mellon Foundation has a distinguished history of supporting transformative projects for education and cultural preservation," said Brad Wheeler, Kuali Foundation board chair and vice president for information technology at IU. "We are grateful for their support of this open, extensible and deeply collaborative work among the OLE investing libraries. The libraries' choice to anchor the project in the Kuali Foundation will ensure its quality, openness and sustainability for years to come."

"The Kuali OLE collaboration comes at the perfect time," said Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian and vice provost for library affairs at Duke University. "If libraries are to provide excellent support for scholarship and teaching well into the future, we must develop a new model that reflects the true needs of our organizations and facilitates our work in a constantly changing environment. This partnership capitalizes on the experience, the commitment and the energy of a key group of institutions to build that model for the future of research library operations. We are grateful to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for recognizing the promise of the OLE project, and to Kuali for offering us this opportunity to align our goals with theirs."

Jakubs and Wheeler were recently elected co-chairs of the Kuali OLE Board of Directors at its initial board meeting in Washington, D.C., on December 16, 2009.

An accomplished team of librarians select, manage and grow Indiana University's research collections, which include more than 6.6 million books and materials in more than 350 languages. The materials support every academic discipline on campus, with an emphasis in the humanities and social sciences. Collections also include journals, maps, films and sound recordings. Users can access more than 692 databases, 60,315 electronic journals, and 816,255 electronic books, as well as locally developed digital content.

Source: Indiana University

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