Senate House Libraries and the Bloomsbury Colleges are implementing a next-gen LMS, Kuali OLE. The three early adopters are Senate House, SOAS, and Birkbeck .
Marshall Breeding on the LSP concept: “ To make up for functionality absent in their core integrated library systems, many libraries implemented a cluster of ancillary products, such as link resolvers, electronic resource management systems, digital asset management systems, and other repository platforms to manage all their different types of materials. The new products aim to simplify library operations through a more inclusive platform designed to handle all the different forms of content.” http://www.infotoday.com/cilmag/sep11/Breeding.shtml
OLE is a genuine enterprise system in contrast with the historical / traditional LMS which has been ‘the has box sitting in the corner’, perhaps even a corner of the library itself. Certainly a system that doesn’t command much attention from IT or the broader university, and not something to be taken seriously as a core system. Our US partners have recognised a requirement for an enterprise approach and we agree. We think the LMS and resource discovery are about enterprise information, and should be seen as a key system enabling learning and teaching, and research . The nature of the data used means these systems are business critical for our HEIs.
The focus in OLE is on what an academic / research library wants and needs in a system. The Kuali foundation ‘ gets it ’ in this respect, our functional experts – librarians and library workers – sit within a foundation that includes development expertise in analysis, consultancy, and project management. This means you avoid pitfalls that you can imagine if I asked you to imagine a library management system built by librarians. :-)
A few points to unpack this a little bit. 1. Philosophical fit to HE Collaboration is fundamental in the HE sector and particularly within libraries, and the older concept of Free Software originates in HE. Blog post with more: http://www.preater.com/2012/10/15/free-software-and-cultural-change-at-libcampuk12/ 2. OSS is best of breed software. OSS is (often) the best! Proprietary suppliers use OSS themselves, they choose OSS as the foundation for their development because it is stable and well-supported, and importantly flexible and free to use. OSS is licensed in a way that allows development and may be used for any purpose. One example is lots of commercial products use Apache Lucene and Apache Solr which is the same as the OLE document store. 3. OSS is a pragmatic choice for us is terms of mitigating certain risks: Vendors being bought out by another LMS vendor and forcing you on a migration path. A secure future for the system, it can ’ t be bought out by private equity investors. Usable source code. Vendor source code may be held in escrow – but how useful would that be to the average library if they needed to use it?
These are all arguments that convince the early adopters so unlikely to sway anyone who doesn ’ t have a fair appetite for risk.
To be more pragmatic, OLE 0.8 is real software that exists. 0.8 was release in June, on track.
Here ’ s a screenshot in a Web browser of the test drive system.
We ’ ve not implemented it yet, so what are we actually doing? These are the things we did in Senate House and the college systems librarian group to actually do the work.
This was a big one for us. Working with subject matter expects (those staff who know the work and the requirements) in our libraries to develop a spec that describes what we need. This turned out to be much more ‘ aspirational ’ than the traditional UK Core Spec. We ’ re using Atlassian Confluence as a tool for sharing and collaboration. Everything in the SHL Confluence pages on OLE was open from the beginning – every systems librarians meeting, every conversation with the project manager long enough to take notes. Part of this is about gaining buy in from staff including ourselves as systems workers.
Essential to cover off this stuff if you want to run an operational shared service between multiple HEIs – even with our federal structure.
A project runs alongside the BLMS to replace our current ‘ discovery potpourri ’ with a next-generation discovery layer. This may or may not include resource discovery as an element.
This will definitely deal with local bib data, and for us will have archives and ePrints included. Vufind and Blacklight are serious Open Source options for this, Vufind is especially interesting because Birkbeck, University of London are already using it live.
Screenshot of Senate House Libraries, University of London test VuFind instance.
Metadata optimization includes scoping reclassification and ‘ tidying up ’ legacy bibliographic data from previous systems migrations and integrations. Much of this goes back years but we ’ ve not been able to approach it except under the aegis of a ‘ big project ’ with central funding – this is much more engaging to university senior management.
What are the critical success factors for this project? (Our PM is really effective and project management speak rubs off after a while. :-) )
Cloud hosting is a serious option – and a cloud hosted platform needs a stable and robust IT infrastructure. This will be based on enterprise IT approaches rather than libraryland approaches. 2. Interoperation with existing systems – there are essential campus systems to interoperate with that current-generation LMS doesn ’ t do very well: Finance systems Student records Online sales 3. Open and extensible. The platform must be open and extensible for future work. Some of our functional spec is a bit aspirational – but the good thing is we know we can build it in to OLE later. Working with a development partner to do coding on an OSS system means this is actually feasible, whereas often with closed vendors you find you can ’ t even buy it. Much of this openness is most immediately relevant for our work on discovery
This is similar to things I heard at a UEL Alma day earlier in the year. As I ’ ve said our view of the LMS is that it is an enterprise system and we need to raise its profile at HEI level, we do this by engaging: University and College SMT – particularly at COO / Secretary level and above. (OLE exists as part of a Kuali ecosystem including financials, student records – lots of potential for additional Kuali components as a good choice in future.) University IT – essential from early on, so much of our LMS success hinges on IT infrastructure like networking and this will only become more important if we host in the cloud. Records managers - especially for data protection issues. University procurement team
Contact me at: firstname.lastname@example.org or @preater BLMS project blog: www.blms.ac.uk
Kuali OLE - the Bloomsbury LMS. Summary of project for the London E-resources Group.
The Bloomsbury LMS
Associate Director, Information Systems and Services
Senate House Libraries, University of London
London E-resources Group, 3 July 2013