Lehigh launches new open-source library environment

Lehigh University has launched the Kuali Open Library Environment (OLE), the first university in the nation to implement the open-source, community-based library management system.

Kuali OLE software was created through a partnership of the Mellon Foundation and ten of the nation’s leading university libraries who brought their respective library professionals together to build a best practices integrated library system, designed by higher education librarians for higher education libraries.

The OLE system is part of a suite of academically-oriented software solutions being designed and developed by research universities that include Lehigh University, Indiana University, the University of Chicago, The Bloomsbury Colleges – University of London, Duke University, North Carolina State University, University of Florida Partnership, University of Maryland, University of Michigan, the University of Pennsylvania and Villanova University. The University of Chicago will be the next academic library to go into production with OLE later in August and the remaining partner institutions will go live with the software in the 2015/16 academic year.

Designing and building the system from scratch with our partner institutions has made Lehigh rethink the entire workflow and operations of our libraries.--Bruce Taggart

Kuali OLE replaces Lehigh’s current library management system with a next generation open source, open architecture system. The system will provide all the traditional library services expected as well as provide libraries with new enhanced ways to manage electronic resources from electronic books to digital born resources to streaming videos to cloud services—all at a fraction of the cost of purchasing these systems from proprietary software vendors.

“One of our major objectives in joining the OLE project was to get Lehigh's professional library staff working with our partners in taking an active role in designing software which improves the overall efficiencies and effectiveness of the libraries, something incredibly complicated considering the exponential growth in e-resources and the migration of print to distributed electronic-based media,” said Bruce Taggart, Vice Provost, Library & Technology Services at Lehigh, and a Kuali board member. “In the past several years we’ve looked to replace our library system on a couple of occasions and we found no proprietary vendor software which met our needs. Designing and building the system from scratch with our partner institutions has made Lehigh rethink the entire workflow and operations of our libraries. That in itself is worth our investment in OLE.”

Lehigh’s Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, Pat Farrell, noted, “It’s very exciting for Lehigh’s libraries to be a founding partner of OLE and contributing to the development of new software which will help lower the cost of operating our universities. While there is some risk being involved with an open source development project, having our library staff actively engaged in rethinking their business practices and designing new systems to improve service delivery to our campus should be enthusiastically encouraged and supported.”

The OLE project is just one of several Kuali Foundation projects which are strategically focused on lowering the cost of running our universities administrative support systems including financials, human resources, student, grants management, and libraries. For more detailed information on the OLE project and the Kuali Foundation go to www.kuali.org.