Open Library Environment (OLE) Information & Executive Summary

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VALE and OLE Project - April 2010

Please see the attachments below for VALE-OLE Governance Structure [PDF icon], Institutional Response Form [PDF icon], Presentation at Kuali Days 2011 Conference  [PDF icon],and Timeline [PDF icon]

What is OLE?

OLE (Open Library Environment) is a Mellon Foundation sponsored initiative now under the auspices of the Kuali Foundation. OLE will develop an open source, enterprise-level suite of library applications to replace current integrated library system modules with next generation technologies. A catalog search interface (OPAC) is not a part of OLE; it is left to individual implementers to select from the growing number of available options. Therefore VALE will be choosing and recommending a common search interface (discovery tool) before OLE is implemented. For current information on the KUALI-OLE project, see

How is OLE different from existing library systems?

Our current library systems are built on models approaching thirty years of age, and many of our practices are even older. OLE is being built with a fundamentally different and grassroots approach. It draws upon library staff from all areas to define the tasks a library system must perform and to identify where current library systems fall short, in order to improve upon these legacy systems. Thus, OLE will be a product of the community it serves rather than a commercial product that profits a corporate vendor. OLE’s second great advantage is that its structure is being based on service-oriented architecture (SOA), a systems philosophy based on interoperable services. OLE will be able to seamlessly integrate information from other campus systems, such as student records into the circulation system, and output data, such as acquisitions debits, into campus finance systems.

What is the connection between VALE and OLE?

For a number of years a VALE Open Library Systems team has been considering a new vision for the VALE consortium by which the New Jersey academic libraries would, where possible, unify policies, collaborate in their operations, and work to provide a sum greater than their parts. Part of this vision is the adoption of a shared, open-source, library system that will sever our individual relationships with our systems vendors and allow us to share a common system. Since 2007 VALE members have evaluated other library open-source products, such as Evergreen and Koha, and determined that the efforts and potential of OLE are most aligned with this vision for VALE’s future.

What are the advantages of VALE-OLE?

VALE-OLE will allow New Jersey’s academic libraries to…

  • …shift the considerable expense of maintaining individual, vendor-supplied, legacy ILS software to a shared, community-developed, locally-supported, next-generation system, with greatly improved return-on-investment, efficiency, and end user satisfaction.
  • …offer users “One Card New Jersey” Statewide Borrowing - New Jersey’s academic library community will have the resources of all participating institutions at their disposal. They will be able to search simultaneously or in groups of nearby libraries. They will be able to borrow directly from these institutions via a delivery service.
  • …standardize protocols governing acquisitions, cataloging, patrons, loans and other operations, improving resource sharing, statewide discovery of materials, cooperative lending and collection development, and improved service to our collective user base.
  • …benefit from development of new products derived from the OLE user base, responsive to our individual and collective needs, more agile, rapid, and focused on what we identify as priorities rather than what a corporate, for-profit entity determines is its development path.

What are VALE-OLE’s initial guiding principles?

  • That this is a voluntary movement. No VALE institution will be pressured to participate. Everyone will have opportunities to explore VALE-OLE and decide themselves whether they wish to join.
  • That institutions who wish to participate will do so at no risk to their current collection and library automation system. They will be able to test VALE-OLE with their own data before making any commitment to join.
  • That the cost of VALE-OLE will not exceed an institution’s current ILS annual vendor maintenance fee.
  • That a catalog search interface will be chosen from the available open-source, non-proprietary options and be made available to participants, customizeable with their own institutional identity.
  • That data cleanup and policy standardization are core activities and that participating institutions will participate in the tasks associated with these activities.
  • That all VALE institutions who participate will have a role in the development and implementation process. VALE-OLE is envisioned as being flexible and with the advanced features and capabilities required by a large research institution. At the same time, we envision a product that scales equally well to smaller institutions and would require simple implementation and support.
  • That identity management will be a central component of the system, enabling strong individualization of collections to be maintained and access to resources provided based on the identity and role of the user.
  • That a test environment of VALE-OLE will be initially developed, used for demonstration and promotion, and eventually used at a training and certification environment as participants begin to join and migrate.
  • That abundant communication between and among VALE-OLE users, developers and administrators will be established at the outset and be used for news, announcements, and updates and eventually become the vehicle for requests for improvements and resource sharing.

Who is working on VALE-OLE?

As a partner in the design phase of the OLE project, Rutgers has played a major role in the project; VALE representatives have worked together the Rutgers team. The members of the team have been: Grace Agnew, John Brennan, Judy Gardner and Chris Sterback, all from Rutgers; Kurt Wagner, from WPUNJ; and Sharon Yang, from Rider. Taras Pavlovsky (TCNJ) and Rich Sweeney (NJIT) have served as liaisons to the VALE Executive Committee.

What has been done so far?

A timeline of VALE-OLE related events from 2006 to the present is attached as a separate document.

What comes next?

The VALE Executive Committee has approved a process to create a governance structure for the VALE-OLE project. Described more fully in a separately document, that process will create both a VALE-OLE Steering Committee and an Implementation Task Force. Reporting to the VALE Executive Committee, the Steering Committee will chart the course of VALE-OLE’s development. Included in the Steering Committee’s charge will be to analyze and prioritize tasks, to assign these tasks to existing VALE Committees, or create new working groups as necessary. In order to maintain broad and balanced representation, the composition of the Steering Committee will be modeled after the composition of the Executive Committee.


As the OLE product itself is developed and becomes available for testing and deployment a preliminary implementation process and timeline will be drafted and made available to VALE.

Requirements for VALE-OLE Membership

Alpha (α) Implementers
Alpha (α) Implementers are a small group of institutions who have volunteered to be early adopters of VALE-OLÉ, and who have been selected by the VALE Executive Committee to serve in that capacity. Several minimum criteria have already been developed and are included in the Governance Structure, Section V C. For the sake of convenience, the criteria are repeated here:
1. The institution must utilize an LDAP (Lightweight Directory Access Protocol) in its IT network.
2. The institution must agree to underwrite 20% of the work effort of its Systems Librarian (or equivalent position) towards the VALE-OLÉ project.
3. The institution must have an agreement with its central IT administration to interface with its existing ERPS (Enterprise Resource Planning System) and allow access to enterprise data. Additional criteria will be defined by the VALE-OLÉ Steering Committee before institutional commitments are sought.
Beta (β) Implementers
Beta (β) Implementers are the larger group of institutions who are interested in participating in VALE-OLÉ, but doing so at a later date. The membership of the VALE OLE Steering Committee is drawn from both groups, α- and β-implementers. The institution must agree that if selected for the Steering Committee, it will underwrite an average of 5-10% of the work effort of its representative towards the VALE-OLÉ project.

VALE-OLE-Gov-Structure-100601.pdf301.29 KB
VALE-OLE-Inst-Resp-Form-100601.pdf201.69 KB
VALE-OLE-timeline100601.pdf217.92 KB
Going It Together_3.pdf1.29 MB