Looking forward, looking back
It is mid-2016 and the Open Library Environment is moving into a new phase of its development. With three libraries (the University of Chicago, Lehigh University and SOAS) live on the Kuali OLE system that has been developed by the OLE Partners since 2011, assisted by the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, the partners are now looking forward to the further evolution of the system through a new collaboration.
It is timely to look back at how we came here. The vision first expressed in 2009 is as relevant today as it was then:
The goal of the Open Library Environment Project (OLE Project) was to design a next-generation library system that breaks away from print-based workflows, reflects the changing nature of library materials and new approaches to scholarly work, integrates well with other enterprise systems and can be easily modified to suit the needs of different institutions.
The project planners went beyond designing for incremental improvement of current Integrated Library Systems (ILS’s). They also viewed the role of library business technology systems to be more than purchasing and providing access to collected materials. The project planners chose to define a system that supports libraries as a central player in the research process. [p.1]
Although this report accurately describes the facts, it does not convey the energy and enthusiasm that characterized the OLE Project this past year. Project planners engaged in lively debate, wrote and re-wrote documents, shared and discussed readings, responded to dozens of requests for phone calls and presentations by interested groups and individuals and faced challenging questions at public events, all with good humor. They wrestled with technology and phone systems to figure out how to collaborate across thousands of miles and a 14 hour time spread. They learned to say “June” instead of “summer,” in recognition that there are two hemispheres in this world.
The response from the library community exceeded all expectations. Workshops quickly filled with participants from libraries large and small, near and far. Webcasts drew interest from around the world; project members began recording and posting the recordings for those who could not attend “live” in the middle of the night. Throughout all of these activities, individuals with deep respect and concern for libraries wrestled with difficult issues and diverse points of view.
The OLE Project completed its official goals, but beyond that, it launched a world-wide conversation about the desired future of libraries and what is needed to move libraries toward that future. [p.12]
OLE Core Values
- OLE is committed to developing an open source, community directed library management system that is freely available for implementation by libraries and consortia;
- OLE is committed to building an innovative next generation technology environment that leverages integration with university enterprise systems and external vendor systems;
- OLE is committed to re-examine library business operations and develop new workflows that reflect the changing nature of library materials and new approaches to serving scholarly research;
- OLE is committed to building an inclusive partnership focused on financial support, collaborative functional and technical design, software development, and support for OLE implementers.