Chalmers Library is planning to migrate to a brand new, actually not yet existing, library services platform called FOLIO. Partnering with EBSCO, we will be the earliest adopter, going live with the first version in 2019. Here I will try to outline the foundations of FOLIO, no previous knowledge required.
A new library system built from scratch
The philosophy behind FOLIO is to build what libraries need, with a modern and flexible infrastructure and a well-thought-out design for a good user experience. Well, of course, that is what every library system company would say, but in this case librarians are involved from start to end. And there is no company who owns the system.
One basic idea is the concept of ”apps”, i.e. pieces of functionality. None of these apps should be too large and each could easily be replaced by another app if needed. The technique behind this is called micro services and the intention is that selected apps will serve as one system.
FOLIO will be handling both print and electronic resources and related library tasks. In the core setup, there will be apps for knowledgebase(s) including link resolver activation, licenses and other workflows for e-resources, as well as metadata management and circulation of print books.
Later on, anyone who wishes can extend their installation of FOLIO with additional functionality or replace parts of the system with apps they would rather use. For example, a consortium may prefer a more extensive app to handle finances than a small library who prefers simplicity. Or you may feel the need to build an app to integrate with your home grown inter library loan system or institutional repository.
The user interface is a for librarians only. There will be no OPAC among the core apps, instead the user has to find the material in a discovery system who will call FOLIO to display loan status, make requests etc. EBSCO discovery system (EDS) as well as some open source discovery systems are currently working with FOLIO integration.
Who is developing FOLIO?
FOLIO is an acronym for The Future of Libraries is Open. It may sound a bit fishy, but the basic idea is that the source code is open for anyone to use and to build upon. Also, anyone can install FOLIO locally, free of charge.
FOLIO is being developed as a collaboration within the non-profit open source promoting organization Open Library Foundation (OLF). In OLF, The Open Library Environment (OLE) coordinates the work together with EBSCO information services, the Danish software development company Index Data and several other teams.
As a community driven project, engaged librarians are working in together with product owners to determine which functionality the apps should encompass, how the workflows should behave and to test the user experience. The work is completely transparent and anyone can join.
However, the tempo would not be this high without the involvement of commercial companies who are investing heavily with dedicated teams of developers. EBSCO, ByWater, SirsiDynix, Index Data and others are planning to sell hosted environments and support services as well as endeavouring to integrate with existing library systems components. To make FOLIO a success is of course vital for these companies.
Further on, the idea is that a flora of libraries and companies will make and offer new apps with extended functionality. It’s up to the developer to decide weather the app should be free of charge or not.
Is any library using FOLIO?
No, not yet. But Chalmers Library is intending to go live with FOLIO as the very first library, soon, really soon.
So why on earth are we planning to leave established library systems to embark on this project? Well, that’s another blog post…
Want to learn more?
Folio.org – the starting point.
The FOLIO wiki – The node for the special interest groups and, well, essentially everything. For example, have a look at some app ideas or The Codex vision which is currently being discussed within the community. Go to the bottom of the page to learn how to join a SIG.
FOLIO UX – demos of the design work and vision.
FOLIO demo site – the latest stable version. Login with diku_admin / admin
At Open Library Forum on You Tube you will find several presentations. For example, this recent roadmap update which also covers the basics about FOLIO and shows how features are prioritized.
Previous blog posts about FOLIO
/Marie Widigson & the FOLIO team at Chalmers