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Brad Wheeler
Chairman of the Kuali Foundation Board, Indiana University Vice President for IT & CIO, Dean, and Professor

Carolyn Walters
Indiana University Interim Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries

Robert McDonald
Indiana University Associate Dean for Library Technologies, Associate Director, Data to Insight Center-Pervasive Technology Institute

Last modified: Monday, November 16, 2009

Universities launch Open Library Environment as Kuali Foundation Project

November 16, 2009

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Kuali Foundation, Inc., is pleased to announce that a group of leading academic research libraries is partnering in the Kuali Open Library Environment (OLE) (pronounced Oh-LAY) project to develop software created specifically for the complex business management and workflow operations of academic and research libraries.

The Kuali Foundation welcomes the librarians and this new project as another important community source project by higher education, for higher education. This initiative will enable libraries worldwide to join a community dedicated to pioneering library capabilities to manage their increasingly digital resources and collections.

More than 300 libraries, educational institutions, professional organizations, and businesses participated in some phase of planning for the OLE project, which was supported by a planning grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and led by Duke University. Based on that broad insight, OLE will 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. The project is designed to work well with other enterprise systems and to be easily modified to suit the needs of different institutions.

Consistent with the values of the Kuali Foundation, the resulting software will be made freely available to libraries around the world, which will then also contribute their expertise and enhancements through community processes that work for the library community. The project will build on the far-reaching expertise of its current and future partners.

"The Kuali Foundation is a natural home for the OLE Project as a major software system for university libraries," says Brad Wheeler, Kuali Foundation Board Chairman and CIO at Indiana University. "There is a natural fit of this community source project and its investors with the quality processes in design, coding, and quality assurance that foundation members have refined through other system successes, including the recent Kuali Financial System 3.0 release."

"This demonstrates our commitment to finding new solutions for a new time," says Carolyn Walters, OLE co-principal investigator and interim Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries at Indiana University. "Libraries are changing, and we will succeed not only by transforming ourselves, but also by partnering with others. Libraries are rapidly advancing into a more connected world, and the OLE collaboration will give us the tools that serve the emerging library of this century. I am proud that Indiana University is leading this effort with many great partners."

According to Deborah Jakubs, Rita DiGiallonardo Holloway University Librarian & vice provost for library affairs at Duke University, the Kuali OLE Project "will lay the groundwork for more effective and more efficient ways of operating not only within our individual libraries but also across consortia and new organizational models."

Integrated library systems, composed of relational databases and the application software to support them, are used to track materials within library collections, from ordering and paying for them to loaning them to library patrons. Because large academic research libraries are responsible for managing and providing access to millions of items, the need to be more proactive in software development is especially acute in light of the workflow needed to manage and curate a varied digital collection that includes leased electronic journal content and owned special collections.

"In a world of shrinking alternatives for libraries, there is a need to forge a community that provides sustainable options for libraries," says project manager Robert McDonald, associate dean for library technologies at the Indiana University Libraries. "This effort puts libraries in charge of their own destinies. The Kuali approach demonstrates the best of open source, directed development, and a market of commercial support providers to truly align with the needs of higher education."

Kuali OLE partners include Indiana University (lead); 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, 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.

For more information on Kuali OLE:

OLE Project Final Report: