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Smart Libraries Newsletter [February 2013]


Kuali OLE: Open Source Enterprise Software for Academic Libraries

The Kuali OLE project continues its progress toward the creation of an open source enterprise level library services platform. If the current timeline of the project holds, the initial 1.0 release of the software will be completed in the first quarter of 2013 with a system ready for implementation by investing partners choosing to be early adopters.

Each of the organizations involved in the Kuali OLE project have made financial contributions in addition to in-kind efforts represented by the involvement of their personnel. Additional funding has been provided by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The original Kuali OLE investing partner institutions include Indiana University (lead institution), Duke University, the University of Chicago, selected members of the University of Florida system, the University of Maryland, Lehigh University, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, and North Carolina State University.

Kuali OLE, with the JISC organization in the United Kingdom, has facilitated a related project called the Global Open Knowledgebase (GOKb) to create an open access repository of e-journal holdings required for the efficient management of electronic resources. (See: Kuali OLE is designed for academic and research libraries, challenging the library management products offered under proprietary licenses. So far, firm commitments to Kuali OLE have been limited to those involved with the project from its onset. In recent months, additional institutions have begun to show serious consideration.

The original group expanded in June 2012 when Villanova University joined as an additional investing partner. Villanova University Libraries have a longstanding commitment to open source software, having led the development of the VuFind discovery interface and the VuDL digital library management platform.

The Bloomsbury Library Management System Consortium of the University of London in the United Kingdom announced in November 2012 that they had selected the Kuali OLE as the basis of their next library management system. This is a “decision in principle” dependent on further investigation and development and not necessarily a formal tender outcome. This group comprises the Senate House Libraries and the libraries of the Bloomsbury Colleges, which including Birkbeck College, Institute of Education, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Royal Veterinary College, and the School of Advanced Studies. The libraries currently are supported by various ILS implementations:

  • The Senate House Libraries — Millennium
  • Schools of Advanced Studies — Millennium
  • Birkbeck Library — Horizon with a VuFind discovery interface
  • Institute of Education — Sirsi- Dynix Symphony
  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine — SirsiDynix Symphony
  • Royal Veterinary College — Sirsi- Dynix Symphony

The implementation project will bring these libraries together into a shared library management system based on Kuali OLE.


Koha and LibLime Koha

Koha continues to increase its presence among libraries in the United States and internationally. Based on the original open source Koha software developed in New Zealand, two distinct lines of activity continue: one takes place through a globally distributed group of interested individuals and organizations, and another through the efforts of a single commercial company.

The global project, which channels its work through the domain, continues the broad-based global collaborative development of Koha. Koha development takes place through a group of individuals distributed throughout the world that cooperate to produce new versions of the software, manage quality assurance, and create documentation. This group elects a release manager for each major version, as well as other individuals responsible for quality assurance or maintenance of previous versions. Several commercial companies participate in, including ByWater Solutions and Equinox Software in the United States, BibLibre in France, and dozens of other companies and organizations in different regions of the world.

The most recent version of the software is Koha 3.10.0. In addition to enhancements to functionality in each of its modules, considerable work has been executed to improve its technical infrastructure for performance and scalability. As an application written in the Perl programming language, Koha has historically been an interpreted environment that involves a separate process for each task or page request. Through a framework called Plack (, Perlbased applications such as Koha can operate through a shared process, avoiding the overhead of loading Perl with each request and resulting in significantly enhanced performance. Koha 3.8.0 included the support for Plack in the online catalog; 3.10.0 extends compatibility to the staff interface. Led by BibLibre, work is also underway to incorporate the Apache Solr technology into Koha to improve search and retrieval performance. Bib- Libre has been supporting installations in France using Solr since 2010. Work is underway for the planned 3.12 release to provide dual support for Zebra, the indexing technology developed by Index Data and supported by Koha since 2005, and Solr. Though Solr is a more powerful search technology, it significantly adds to the complexity of a Koha installation. Maintaining support for Zebra will allow libraries to choose between a more complex and powerful installation that may require a cluster of servers or a simpler configuration that can operate on a single server.

ByWater Solutions, the dominant provider of services surrounding Koha in the United States, continues to attract many new client libraries. Recent additions include the Lebanon Public Libraries in New Hampshire (migrating from SirsiDynix Symphony) and The New England School of Acupuncture (from CyberTools for Libraries).

In New Zealand, the home country of Koha, Catalyst IT provides commercial development, support, and hosting services. In December 2012, Catalyst IT worked with the New Zealand National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research to migrate their data from a former SirsiDynix Symphony system to Koha.

LibLime, a division of PTFS, develops a separate fork of software based on Koha. LibLime offers its software through the domain, acquired through earlier business transactions, and through its own site. While the two versions of the software share common heritage, they have become increasingly divergent since around March 2010, when PTFS acquired LibLime. PTFS/LibLime calls their version of the software LibLime Koha and LibLime Academic Koha. LibLime Academic Koha was created in partnership with Westchester Academic Library Directors Organization (WALDO), which sponsored many of the enhancements of interest to its academic library members. LibLime Koha and LibLime Academic Koha continue to be open source, but a privately maintained fork. For nearly three years, new and modified code developed by LibLime programmers has not been incorporated into Koha as developed through the participants.

LibLime Koha and LibLime Academic Koha follow a separate set of version enumerations. Support for Plack was introduced in LibLime Koha beginning with its version 4.8, released in November 2011. LibLime announced the availability of Lib- Lime Academic Koha 5.0 in July 2012, which included enhancements such as linked authority control and support for RDA cataloging rules. LibLime has also extended its software to use Plack and Solr. The implementation for the South Central Library System, supporting 42 member libraries with combined holdings of 2.3 million items, has been using SOLR since October 2012 with significant improvement in performance. In recent weeks, LibLime has announced the implementation of LibLime Academic Koha at the University of Advancing Technology, new members joining consortia using LibLime Koha.

Evergreen: Open source ILS for Consortia

Evergreen, originally developed for and by the Georgia Pines libraries, continues to see interest, mostly among consortia of public libraries. A number of consortia of public libraries in the North America are based on Evergreen, including Georgia PINES (280+ member libraries), The British Columbia SITKA consortium (120 libraries in BC and Manitoba), Pennsylvania Integrated Library System (44 member libraries), three regional library systems in Massachusetts (204+ combined members), East Central Regional Library in Minnesota (15 members), the Missouri Evergreen Consortium (19 members), and the SAGE Library Consortium in Oregon. The King County Library System, a major urban library, has used Evergreen since 2009. In recent months the Virginia Evergreen consortium has been formed, with an initial set of 22 libraries participating. LYRASIS Library Technology Services provides migration, support and hosting services for Virginia Evergreen.

View Citation
Publication Year:2013
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 33 Number 02
Issue:February 2013
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Record Number:18069
Last Update:2023-02-02 20:41:50
Date Created:2013-06-22 13:50:44