A Thread of Comments on the OLE Project Draft Report

Carl Grant, president of Ex Libris North America, posted a pair of messages on his corporate blog that it is worth calling attention to regarding the OLE Project final report, if you haven’t already run into them: OLE; The unanswered questions and Library Software Solutions – We need a higher level of discourse... Equally important is the comment on the first by Brad Wheeler, Vice President for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer at Indiana University. The whole thread should take about five minutes to read; five minutes well spent if you are interested in the intersection of community source software development with proprietary, closed-source software development. It is even more important if you are looking for a case study of governance issues surrounding community source software development. Go ahead…I’ll wait.

It is important to clear up one misconception. Brad Wheeler, at Indiana University, was not involved in the design phase of the OLE Project. Heavens — I hope someone who is VP of IT and CIO of a major university would have better things to do than to slog through discussions of workflow decomposition of back-room library automation functions. No, Brad is a consumer of the final report draft, just as many library directors and CIOs are the intended audience of the draft. In fact, Brad is a special category of report readers because he is at the forefront of community source in higher education; he believes in the community source model because he is witness to how it has and is working. From his biography:

Dr. Wheeler has been a pioneer in leveraged models for university collaboration. He serves in leadership roles for over $50M of shared university investments in open source software and was a co-founder of the Sakai Project and co-principal investigator on its $2.7M in grants and the $500K Open Source Portfolio project. He was a co-founder of the original Kuali Project, and now chairs the Kuali Foundation, Inc. board of directors. He has been a co-principal investigator on $4M of Kuali grants and three of the foundation.

Sakai (learning management system), Open Source Portfolio (electronic portfolio, since folded into Sakai), and Kuali (a suite of project including student records, research tracking, university financials, as well as other systems) are all well-regarded open source projects that are “leveraged models for university collaboration” — projects where universities have pooled their resources to develop and own the systems that are at the core of their institutions. The OLE Project is looking to join the Kuali Foundation and follow its proven and evolving patterns for community source development. From that perspective, it might be valuable to go back and reread Brad Wheeler’s response to Carl’s first post.

As someone embedded deeply in the OLE Project design phase, I can only speak for myself. Given the depth my head was in the design documents — and there were many others deeper than I was — it is difficult to separate reality from my perhaps biased impression of the report. I’m not sure a point-for-point debate on the merits of the report are useful as public discourse. Rather, I for one am listening to what others have to say and assimilating that into my version of reality. I’m grateful to Carl for taking the time to post his observations, just as I am to Brad and the other commenters on Carl’s post.

The text was modified to update a link from http://student.kuali.org/ to http://kuali.org/ks on June 9th, 2011.

The text was modified to update a link from http://commentary.exlibrisgroup.com/2009/08/ole-unanswered-questions.html to http://thoughts.care-affiliates.com/2009/08/ole-unanswered-questions.html on November 16th, 2012.

The text was modified to update a link from http://commentary.exlibrisgroup.com/2009/08/ole-unanswered-questions.html?showComment=1250516397104#c3506337648062761977 to http://thoughts.care-affiliates.com/2009/08/ole-unanswered-questions.html?showComment=1250516397104#c3506337648062761977 on November 16th, 2012.

The text was modified to update a link from http://commentary.exlibrisgroup.com/2009/08/ole-unanswered-questions.html?showComment=1250516397104#c3506337648062761977 to http://thoughts.care-affiliates.com/2009/08/ole-unanswered-questions.html?showComment=1250516397104#c3506337648062761977 on November 16th, 2012.

The text was modified to update a link from http://commentary.exlibrisgroup.com/2009/08/library-software-solutions-we-need.html to http://thoughts.care-affiliates.com/2009/08/library-software-solutions-we-need.html on November 16th, 2012.

The text was modified to update a link from http://oleproject.org/final-ole-project-report/ to http://www.kuali.org/sites/default/files/old/OLE_FINAL_Report.pdf on November 16th, 2012.

(This post was updated on 16-Nov-2012.)