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Kuali OLE Now in Production

Smart Libraries Newsletter [October 2014]

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Copyright (c) 2014 ALA TechSource

Abstract: Kuali OLE has been the subject of attention in the library arena, anticipating an open source alternative to proprietary products offered by commercial companies. The Kuali OLE project crossed an important milestone as the libraries of two institutions have placed the software into production. The University of Chicago and Lehigh University have gone live on Kuali OLE version 1.5, displacing their incumbent integrated library systems. These installations both have centered on functionality related to managing print materials, with management of electronic resources planned through subsequent versions of Kuali OLE.


Kuali OLE has been the subject of attention in the library arena, anticipating an open source alternative to proprietary products offered by commercial companies. The Kuali OLE project crossed an important milestone as the libraries of two institutions have placed the software into production. The University of Chicago and Lehigh University have gone live on Kuali OLE version 1.5, displacing their incumbent integrated library systems. These installations both have centered on functionality related to managing print materials, with management of electronic resources planned through subsequent versions of Kuali OLE.

Lehigh University

Lehigh University, a private university located in Bethlehem, PA with a collection of just over a million volumes, became the first library to place Kuali OLE into production on August 4, 2014. The library migrated from a SirsiDynix Symphony ILS, which had been in place since 1994. According to Chulin Meng, director of library technology for Lehigh University, the implementation of Kuali OLE went relatively smoothly, with all data successfully migrated into the new system. Lehigh implemented Version 1.5 of Kuali OLE, which primarily focuses on the management of print materials. The library plans to implement version 2.0, with additional functionality for electronic resource management and the GOKb e-resource knowledge base in the first quarter of 2015. Meng reported that the system has performed well in terms of response times for circulation or for staff-oriented tasks. The library has not seen any backlogs of patrons at the circulation desk as a result of the migration.

The library has been working with Kuali OLE 1.5 since the beginning of 2014, testing data loads and training library personnel. Lehigh has implemented the Kuali OLE software, including the underlying MySQL database, on a single server with an 8-core processor and 32 GB of memory. A separate server supports its VuFind discovery interface and the library website.

Kuali OLE provides some functionality that Lehigh had not been able to accomplish with its SirsiDynix Symphony ILS. Acquisitions personnel are now able to load electronic order records from vendors, such as YBP, through EDI. Testing of loading invoices with EBSCO is currently underway. While this capability was available in Symphony, it was an optional, added-cost module. Another advantage is more effective tracking of materials routed across campus library locations. The Symphony ILS was initially configured as a single library, an implementation decision which limited its ability to track intransit materials. Kuali OLE is being used for serials check-in and for managing the binding of periodicals. The library has begun to prepare to use Kuali OLE for the management of its electronic resources. E-holdings records were created in the migration process in preparation for the electronic resource management capabilities expected in Kuali OLE v. 2.0. Lehigh University has not previously used an electronic resource management system, but has implemented the SFX link resolver from Ex Libris. The library plans to continue the use of SFX because Kuali OLE does not provide link resolution services for discovery interfaces.

The implementation of Kuali OLE was essentially transparent for the patrons of the library. Lehigh had implemented VuFind as its discovery interface in 2011. Although switching to Kuali OLE as its production system involved some reconfiguration of VuFind, its overall appearance and functionality remained unchanged. Some performance problems were initially present in some patron look-up functions and in the processing of interlibrary loan requests managed through the Relais ILL system. These issues are expected to be resolved in the next minor release.

The key area in which Lehigh expects to see benefits and efficiencies from Kuali OLE is better interoperability with other campus systems. The library expects more dynamic management of patron-data between the Kuali OLE and its Oracle identity management system, with the ability to push records in real time rather than the batch processes used previously. Work is also underway to investigate the ability to exchange invoices and other financial data between Kuali OLE and the university's Banner ERP system.

University of Chicago

The University of Chicago Library placed the Kuali OLE software into production on August 20, 2014. A member of the Association of Research Libraries with a collections exceeding 11 million volumes, it is the ninth largest research library in North America. The successful use of Kuali OLE will help to validate the functionality of the software and its ability to scale to meet the needs of a very large and complex library.

Kuali OLE replaces two existing systems: a SirsiDynix Horizon ILS, in place since 1995 and used for cataloging and circulation; and a Millennium ILS used to manage acquisitions.

The University of Chicago Library has also introduced a new discovery environment, licensing EBSCO Discovery Service for article-level access to its electronic resources. The library previously provided access to its collections through two options: the HIP online catalog module associated with Horizon; and a discovery interface, branded as LENS, based on AquaBrowser, initially implemented in 2007. Adding to the complexity, the automated storage retrieval system in the new Joe and Rika Mansueto Library also requires integration into the automation and discovery environment.

According to Frances McNamara, Director, Integrated Library Systems and Administrative and Desktop Systems, migration of from the two separate systems added to the complexity. The Horizon and Millennium (INNOPAC) Acquisitions systems were not automatically synchronized, other than to have bibliographic records transferred in batch as they moved out of acquisitions. With the implementation of Kuali OLE, the library will benefit from acquisitions and other resource management functions coming from a unified platform.

In the weeks leading up to placing Kuali OLE into production, the operations were halted on Horizon and Millennium Acquisitions. The legacy systems will continue to run in read-only mode through the end of the year for any additional reporting or reference that may be needed in support of database cleanup and other typical post-migration tasks.

Kuali OLE does not include a discovery layer, instead focusing on providing APIs to support any patron-facing interface the library chooses to implement. The University of Chicago has developed a custom discovery environment using VuFind. The discovery environment requires interoperability for patron account functions and status or availability of materials from the back-end resource management system. The library's 11 million bibliographic records, now managed through Kuali OLE, are exported for indexing in the SOLR component of VuFind. The University of Chicago initially implemented ILS interoperability for VuFind with Horizon, shifting to Kuali OLE as it became the production system. A public beta version of the VuFind-based interface has been available since February 2014.

Full production coincided with the launch of Kuali OLE, when both the LENS and HIP interfaces were decommissioned. The primary developer for VuFind, Villanova University is also is on track to implement Kuali OLE. David Lacey, part of the VuFind development team at Villanova University, created the connector component between the two systems, enabling patron and item interactions.

EBSCO Information Services serves as a Kuali Commercial Affiliate, specifically in support of scenarios like at the University of Chicago, integrating EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) with Kuali OLE. The University of Chicago opted to use VuFind as the discovery interface, operating with Kuali OLE for print materials and with EDS article-level access to electronic resources.

Version 1.5 of Kuali OLE does not yet include full functionality for the management of electronic resources, which is anticipated for version 2.0, currently under development and in quality assurance. Version 2.0 will include integration with the Global Open Knowledge Base (GOKb), which provides a collaboratively populated resource describing holdings associated with electronic resources packages. The University of Chicago does not currently have an electronic resources management system, using local databases and other means to track the details related to subscriptions. According to McNamara, the University of Chicago libaries currently use SFX as its link resolver, and will continue to do so, even following the implementation of Kuali OLE 2.0 and its integration with the GOKb knowledgebase. The scope of Kuali OLE does not include the functionality to provide link resolution for discovery services. The initial implementation of Kuali OLE at the University of Chicago revealed some issues with performance that require improvement to be addressed through both faster hardware and changes to the software. Some tasks involving patron records, for example, were initially programmed to retrieve all items currently charged, which can result in significant delays for those with hundreds of active loans. It is not unexpected to uncover issues in the initial large-scale implementation of a major software platform. McNamara mentioned that fixes to these issues have programmed into the versions that will be implemented prior to the beginning of the new term on September 29.

McNamara considers the implementation of Kuali OLE a success. With the basic migration complete, additional work remains, such as addressing some of the inevitable problems and catching up with tasks deferred during the transition.

Other Deployments Underway or Planned

The production use of Kuali OLE represents but the first steps in moving the system from development into its implementation phase. According to Bruce Taggart, Vice Provost for Library and Technology Services Lehigh University and Chair of the Kuali OLE board of directors, the Bloomsbury consortium in the United Kingdom currently plans to place the software into use by the end of 2014. The remaining investing partners will be shifting to the software through 2015 and 2016, depending on planning and timing issues for each institution.

While the first two production sites for Kuali OLE represent a major breakthrough, many challenges remain. These two implementations primarily exercise functionality related to the management of print resources, not unlike what is currently provided through a conventional integrated library system. With version 2, the scope expands to management to electronic resources, including integration of the Global Open Knowledge base. Success with those touchstones would validate the software as part of the field of new library services platforms.

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Publication Year:2014
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 34 Number 10
Issue:October 2014
Page(s):2-4
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Products: Kuali OLE
Subject: Library Services Platforms
ISSN:1541-8820
Record Number:20003
Last Update:2015-07-03 13:32:17
Date Created:2014-11-09 16:00:08