Kuali OLE: the Bloomsbury LMS. Project update from the University of London.


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Summary of our Kuali OLE implementation project to date, presented to the European Innovative Users Group (EIUG) at an exchange of experience day at Senate House, 19 September 2013.

Includes an update on our metadata optimization and discovery (VuFind) work packages.

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  • I will say something about what we ’ re doing, and why we ’ re doing it.
  • Senate House Libraries and the Bloomsbury Colleges are implementing a next-generation library services platform, Kuali OLE. The three early adopters are Senate House, SOAS, and Birkbeck OLE is a library system developed by a group of academic and research libraries originally in the United States, but now in Britain. Members include Chicago, Duke, Maryland, Michigan, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Additionally the project has received substantial funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
  • Marshall Breeding says about 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 As a project we’ve found two substantial forks in the road. First, whether to implement a traditional LMS or something next-generation. Second: whether to choose the closed-source vendor option, or commission an Open Source system. We realised that our shared view on what we need in a system couldn’t be met by a traditional LMS / ILS. We knew we needed to tick the boxes on the UK Core Spec for the LMS, but we also needed something more inclusive to support our various libraries.
  • OLE is a genuine enterprise system, in contrast with the historical / traditional LMS which has been ‘the box sitting in the corner’, perhaps even a corner of the library itself. Certainly the trad LMS was 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 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 . It is the nature of the data used means these systems are business critical for our HEIs.
  • The focus in OLE is on what academic and research libraries need 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. :-)
  • When I say ‘ Open Source ’ I have a few points to unpack. 1. Philosophical fit to HE We argue that collaboration is fundamental in the HE sector and particularly within libraries (and the older concept of Free Software originates in HE). We note that even when HEIs don ’ t collaborate as well as they might, their libraries still do. 2. OSS is best of breed software. Proprietary suppliers choose OSS as the foundation for their development because it is stable and well-supported, and importantly flexible and free to use. OSS is typically licensed in a way that allows development and may be used for any purpose. One example, lots of commercial discovery systems use Apache Lucene and Apache Solr which is the same as the OLE document store. 3. OSS was a pragmatic choice for us is terms of mitigating 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, documented source code.
  • What we ’ re not doing is coding an LMS locally to meet our needs. Some friends and colleagues have asked me what I ’ m personally coding in OLE. The answer is I ’ m not - rather we ’ re working with development partners who are enterprise Java coders to customise the system to meet out requirements. In this respect we see the BLMS project as channelling UK needs to the OLE project.
  • The problem is these are all arguments that convince the early adopters - so unlikely to sway anyone who doesn ’ t have a fair appetite for risk.
  • Money. Is Open Source an expensive option? We think it’s actually very good value… It’s our first major investment in our LMS since we migrated from Libertas to Innopac in 1997/98. Cost of software maintenance is interesting, as obviously there is no direct comparator except things like Kuali Foundation dues. We know we’ll need to support and maintain our software platform into the future though. Many of the fixed costs get cheaper as you bring more partners in as you are sharing costs. Kuali OLE is interested in future sustainability of our system, not generating value for a private equity firm.
  • OLE is real software that exists. OLE 0.8 was release in June, ahead of target. OLE 1.0 is being released in October. OLE 1.5 is due next year. We know we can trust our OLE development partners and the OLE project roadmap due to the solid project management, governance structures, and communications approach in the OLE project teams.
  • Here ’ s a current screenshot showing part of the invoicing workflow in OLE from 1.0 development release. This is part of the OLE select & acquire module.
  • We ’ ve not implemented OLE 1.0 yet, so what are we actually doing? Writing our collaborative spec was a big one for us. Working with subject matter expects (those staff who know the work and the requirements) in our libraries we developed 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. Governance, legal, financials: it was essential to cover off this stuff if you want to run an operational service between several 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 is a pragmatic medium-term project that gives us a ‘ good-enough ’ discovery layer to search our local bib database, archives catalog (Adlib) ePrints repository (GNU ePrints) and digital assets management server (Portfolio)
  • 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. This is VuFind 2 running on a virtual machine. It ’ s straightforward to set up, it works, and it ’ s a great test-bed for decoupling front-end discovery from the LMS.
  • Metadata optimization includes scoping reclassification work and tidying up legacy bibliographic data from previous systems migrations and integrations. Much of this goes back years – not just the last system migration, but the one before that and the one before that! We ’ ve not been able to approach it except under the aegis of a ‘ big project ’ . To engage University SMT you need to look at what they really cares about, in our case: our researchers being able to make effective use of the service at Senate House, and student experience for University of London users of the library service.
  • We ’ re using VuFind to help with this, in particular it ’ s the decoupling of discovery from the backend bib database that helps do this in a way that Innovative Encore doesn ’ t. Example here - counts from “ facet filtering ” helps to expose problems with metadata.
  • Further examples include: Invalid 006s. Blank characters in the leader. No dates present in the 008. 041 fields with language codes run together. We’ve identified and updated 70,000 problem language and country codes already: Languages = 3032 bibs Country codes = 66,342 bibs
  • I need to buy some hardware to do this – maybe not this PDP-7, but obvious it will be a Unix machine. This is a bit further away from our aspirational idea of cloud-hosted systems. But it ’ s practical – running an OLE instance allows us to get to grips with the software ahead of deploying a full-on enterprise system next year.ß
  • I will say something about what we ’ re doing starting from September in terms of project critical success factors.
  • 1. 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 / shop 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 we find we can ’ t even buy it.
  • We look at the next-gen as an opportunity to re-examine staff workflows based on a business analysis approach.
  • We ’ ve had a similar experience to the one I heard reported at UEL at their ‘ Alma day ’ earlier in 2013. ßAs 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 I ’ m going to end on a plug for an upcoming event before questions and discussion.
  • Contact me at: andrew.preater@london.ac.uk or @preater BLMS project blog: www.blms.ac.uk
  • Kuali OLE: the Bloomsbury LMS. Project update from the University of London.

    1. 1. Kuali OLE: The Bloomsbury LMS Andrew Preater Associate Director, Information Systems and Services Senate House Libraries, University of London EIUG Exchange of Experience, 19 September 2013
    2. 2. What we’re doing Why we’re doing it
    3. 3. Kuali OLE ole.kuali.org
    4. 4. OLE! Library services platform
    5. 5. OLE! A campus-wide, enterprise system
    6. 6. OLE! By and for academic libraries
    7. 7. OLE! Open Source* software * - Educational Community License 2.0, a Free Software license compatible with GNU GPL 3.0: http://bit.ly/14oMvvu
    8. 8. Programming the Z80 photograph by Flickr user Bill Bradford, license CC-BY http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbill/44595055/
    9. 9. Problem: Early adopter arguments
    10. 10. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Diffusion_of_ideas.svg
    11. 11. Let’s be pragmatic…
    12. 12. Banknotes, money, cash, photograph by Flickr user Howard Lake, license CC-BY-SA http://www.flickr.com/photos/howardlake/4550765098/
    13. 13. It exists… OLE 0.8 June 2013 OLE 1.0 October 2013 OLE 1.5 2014
    14. 14. What we are doing now…
    15. 15. Discovery work package Spring & summer 2013
    16. 16. VuFind, an OSS option senatehou.se/vufind
    17. 17. Metadata optimization work package Spring 2013 onwards
    18. 18. Analysis using VuFind
    19. 19. Language coding example Within total 2.4M records, 6680 coded undetermined in 008
    20. 20. Implementation of OLE 1.0 sandbox Goal for October 2013
    21. 21. PDP-7 photographed by Wikipedia user Tore Sinding Bekkedal, license CC-SA http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pdp7-oslo-2005.jpeg
    22. 22. Success factors
    23. 23. Technology & coding September 2013 -
    24. 24. Staff workflow analysis September 2013 -
    25. 25. “LMS appreciation”
    26. 26. Kuali Days UK October 29-30 at Senate House bit.ly/kduk2013
    27. 27. andrew.preater@london.ac.uk www.blms.ac.uk ole.kuali.org Questions