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Indiana U Leads Effort to Develop Next-Generation Library Management App

Indiana University in Bloomington will be developing new library software to manage digital collections thanks to a $2.38 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The university will lead a partnership of libraries in the Kuali Open Library Environment (OLE) project to develop "community source" software that will be made available to libraries worldwide. Other participants include a consortium of Florida institutions, the Triangle Research Libraries Network, the University of Chicago, and others.

According to Carolyn Walters, interim dean of the Indiana U libraries, 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. As library collections expand to include more digital materials--including leased electronic journals and digitized photograph collections--libraries need software that will allow them to manage the items.

"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 McDonald, executive director for the project and associate dean for library technologies at Indiana U. "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."

The design phase for the Kuali OLE project involved 200 libraries, educational institutions, professional organizations, and businesses. That phase was supported by an earlier grant from the Mellon Foundation and led by Duke University.

The next phase will focus on creating a library system that better reflects the increasingly digital nature of library materials and changing nature of scholarly research and that breaks away from print-based workflows.

OLE became a project of the Kuali Foundation in November. Kuali is a community of organizations that have partnered to build and maintain open source administrative software for higher education.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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