Implemented Open Source in your Library? Get Paid to Write a Case Study

Share your story of implementing an open source system at your library. If selected, you will get paid to develop a case study of your open source system adoption experience and learning.

LYRASIS, in partnership with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is seeking academic and public libraries to share their experiences with open source systems, such as content repositories or institutional repositories, integrated library systems, or public-facing websites. The two selected case studies will be available on This effort, part of the larger LYRASIS Digital initiative, is a continuation of LYRASIS working with libraries and other cultural heritage organizations to learn about, evaluate, adopt, and use open source software systems.

More information is available in the formal call-for-proposals document. To apply, submit a brief description of the potential case study by email to Peter Murray with the name of the proposed primary author as well as names of others at the library who may contribute to creation of the case study. The deadline for submission is Friday, January 11, 2014.

LYRASIS’ “Reposervice” Setup Pushed to GitHub

Earlier this month published ‘reposervice’ to GitHub. Reposervice is a “self-contained” Islandora installation source tree that is intended to smooth the LYRASIS deployment of repository services between development servers, a staging server and production servers. It is a bit of a work-in-progress at the moment, but others might find it useful as well.

(By the way, if you had looked at Reposervice prior to June 18th, you may have noticed a missing critical element — the Drupal submodule. Not because you couldn’t add Drupal yourself but because the Reposervice clone has relative soft symlinks to the Islandora modules positioned in the top level Reposervice directory.)

The goals of this setup are listed in the README file:

  • Put (most) everything in a self-contained directory using relative paths for most components with a configuration script that generates configuration files for absolute paths.
  • Make it easy to track the upstream Islandora work so that you can bring selected commits into your own environment, if desired [using git submodules].
  • Put the configuration of Fedora Commons, FedoraGSearch, SOLR, and other associated components under version control.
  • Use Drupal Features to store the Drupal configuration and put it under version control.
  • Support multi-site setups for separate Islandora/Drupal instances using a common Fedora Commons, SOLR, and djatoka installation.

The first four bullets are there along with hints of the fifth. (There is some as-yet unfinished, uncommitted code that automates much of the work of creating multi-site setups under a single Drupal installation.)

When I sent a note about this to the islandora community mailing list, I got a helpful reply back from Nick Ruest pointing to some work that Graham Stewart of the University of Toronto had done using Chef.

Date: Thu, 13 Jun 2013 12:39:50 -0400
From: Nick Ruest
Subject: Re: [islandora] A ‘DevOps’ Configuration for Islandora

I nearly forgot! Graham Steward at UofT has a few recipes up in his
Github account[1] and there is a recording of his presentation from the
2012 Access[2].



The recording of the presentation is a great introduction to Chef from a library perspective; Graham builds an Islandora 6.x installation from scratch in 624 seconds. The Ruby-based islandora12.rb recipe indeed has a great deal of resemblance to the bash scripts I was creating to deploy the components into the central directory tree. I’m going to have to add Chef to my list of things to learn, and Graham’s call of cooperation in building library-oriented recipes is a compelling one.

There are a few LYRASIS-specific things in here, but I’ve tried to make the basic building blocks replicable for others. This git repo, as it is further developed and documented, will be the foundation of a presentation I’m giving at Open Repositories next month. Comments, questions, observations, and even pull requests (should you find this setup useful in your own work) welcome!

My ALA Anaheim 2012 Schedule

It is that time of year again where representatives from the library profession all gather for the annual Annual Library Association meeting. This year it is in Anaheim, California on June 21–26. And as the pace of technology continues to push libraries into new areas of content and service, this meeting promises to be an exciting one. Or, at least I’m planning on having a fun and engaging time. Here is my tentative schedule of public events. If you’d like to get together to chat outside these times, please get in touch.

Updated to correct the date for the LYRASIS lounge.


Time: Saturday, June 23 Friday June 22, 2012 from 7:30 PM to 9:30 PM
Location: Anabella House – Magnolia Poolside Meeting Room and Private Patio

LYRASIS members, friends, and those interested are invited to join staff for this get-together. RSVP via Facebook or email.

Conversation Starters: Discovery Here, Discovery There: Pros and Cons of Local or Remote Hosting of Discovery Tools

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 9:15 AM to 10:00 AM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 208A
Discovery systems are powerful tools to help users find information resources across the breadth of the library’s online holdings. Many of these tools offer APIs for libraries to build their own user interfaces to the search index, allowing a library to keep site visitors within the library until the time they access the full text of a resource. What are the pros and cons of keeping discovery local? This talk will explore the user interaction, interface design, and user expectations of such homegrown interfaces.

Discovery systems continue to be a hot topic, as is the question about whether libraries should run their own systems or subscribe to commercial services. This is a topic that is also addressed in the FOSS4Lib Control versus Responsibility 40-question survey tool. I’m interested to hear Ken Varnum‘s take on it and the kinds of questions that come from the audience.

As an aside, ALA is two new session formats this year: 5-minute/20-slide “Ignite” style sessions and 45-minute “conversation starter” sessions. This is one of the latter.

Kuali OLE: Community Ready Software for Your Library!

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 210D
Kuali OLE (pronounced oh-lay) is in the first year of building a community-source library management system that takes advantage of existing Kuali Foundation software. Operating since July 2010, and supported by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Kuali OLE is one of the largest academic library software collaborations in the United States. This program will provide an overview of our current software release and how you can get involved with Kuali OLE at your library.

At LYRASIS I’m hearing lots of questions from our members about the Kuali OLE project. I’m heading to this session to see what the needs of libraries would be as a part of forming a strategy for LYRASIS. OLE is an important open source software project for library automation of a kind we haven’t seen in a decade (since the foundation was laid for Evergreen and Koha). The fruits of the early labor are just ripening, and the results could have a profound impact — not only on the ILS marketplace but also in how libraries come together to work on shared software development. Note that this is one of several sessions at ALA featuring the OLE project.

New Library Technology Paradigms: OS vs Black Box vs Hybrids

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 206A
Some libraries build new Open Source Products, some adopt existing ones and others buy packaged products. How do libraries make the choice? What are the trade-offs, benefits and pitfalls of building something in house, using an existing OS solution, buying something out of the box or building a hybrid solution. Our panelists will talk about how and why they build systems and what drives their decision making processes.

Here’s the place in the program where I’ll be speaking. Joining me on the panel moderated by Evviva Weinraub is Bohyun Kim and Megan Banasek on the decision-making process for choosing software. I’ll be talking about the FOSS4Lib Decision Support tools and the other two speakers will be talking about their experiences.

ACRL / SPARC Forum: Campus Open Access Funds: The State of Play

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Saturday, June 23, 2012 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Location: Disneyland Hotel – Disneyland Grand Ballroom South
A sustainable, Open Access scholarly communication system requires robust, stable sources of funding. One key source of such funding are campus-based Open Access funds – pools of money provided academic institutions specifically earmarked to help authors offset the cost of journal publication. These funds have sprung up on campuses large and small, in colleges and universities across the U.S., Canada, and increasingly, worldwide. How are these funds created? Where are they located and who administers them? Where does the money come from? Are authors using these funds? Where can my institution turn for information on creating such a fund?

This forum will explore all of these questions and more, as a panel of experts delve into the latest developments in creating, implementing and sustaining this crucial resource.

Presenters include:

  • Chuck Eckman, Librarian and Dean of Library Services at Simon Fraser University
  • Sue Kriegsman , Program Manager for the Office for Scholarly Communication at Harvard University Library
  • Andrew Waller, Librarian at University of Calgary

These panelists will share their experiences in establishing and running some of the most visible and longest-running Open Access Campus Funds in existences, and discuss what’s working, what need fine tuning, and what they see pending as new developments on the horizon for these crucial resources.

Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative update

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Sunday, June 24, 2012 from 10:30 AM to 12:00 PM
Location: Anaheim Marriott Grand Salon A-C

Community forum to share news and views on the LC Bibliographic Framework Transition Initiative.

I’m expecting lots of news here, particularly with the recent news of the modeling initiative. I’m also eager to hear how librarians can participate more deeply in the effort.

As an aside, if this session wasn’t going on I’d be going to the Responsive Web Design: get beyond the myth of the mobile Web. Responsive web design is an important technique, and I’m glad to see it getting some play to a broader library audience.

Chat Library Technology With Me at the LYRASIS Booth

Exhibitor information in the ALA scheduler
Time: June 24, 2012 from 1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
Location: Exhibit floor booth 2001

Want to talk open source software? FOSS4Lib? Ebooks? Discovery layers? Come meet with me at the LYRASIS booth and we can chat about these topics and more.

The Fourth Paradigm: Data-Intensive Research, Digital Scholarship and Implications for Libraries

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Sunday, June 24, 2012 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – Ballroom A
Tony Hey will describe the emergence of a new, ‘fourth paradigm’ for scientific research – involving the acquisition, management and analysis of vast quantities of scientific data. This ‘data deluge’ is already affecting many fields of science most notably fields like biology, astronomy, particle physics, environmental science and oceanography. The term eScience or eResearch is used to describe the development of the tools and technologies to support this more data-intensive, collaborative and often multidisciplinary research. This revolution will not be confined to the physical sciences but will also transform large parts of the humanities and social sciences as more and more of their primary research data is now being born digital.

Tony Hey is Vice President of Microsoft Research Connections, and he has a lot of good things to say on the ‘data’ that we should be listening about.

The Ultimate Debate: Cloud Computing: Floating or Free Falling?

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Monday, June 25, 2012 from 1:30 PM to 3:30 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 213AB
The Ultimate Debate returns for the seventh straight year with a lively discussion over the promises and pitfalls of cloud computing. Three panelists will tease out the various components of cloud computing to give you the insight needed to decide if you should be in the clouds or on terra firma.

A recent article on GigaOm1 said, “The good news is that you’re not going to mind that your cloud computing budget will be higher than what you’re paying now for IT, because you’ll be able to do more.” I wonder if that is true. Cloud computing and Software-as-a-Service specifically has taken off in libraries of all types and sizes, but I haven’t seen where we’ve engaged in a cost-benefit analysis. I expect this “ultimate debate” will shed some light on the topic.

Drive Your Project Forward with Scrum

Session in the ALA scheduler
Time: Monday, June 25, 2012 from 4:00 PM to 5:30 PM
Location: Anaheim Convention Center – 203A
NPR Librarian, Janel Kinlaw, shares lessons learned from adapting Scrum, an agile process framework, to content management projects. She’ll discuss how this approach freed the team to innovate in structuring projects, gathering feedback from end-users in real-time, identifying risk and scope creep sooner and aligning library goals to the broader objectives of the organization. Janel will demonstrate where the Scrum process took us further than traditional methodologies.

This last session is for the geeky side of me. I haven’t worked in a formal Scrum environment, but I enjoy hearing of the story of those that do.


  1. The cloud will cost you, but you’ll be happy to pay, by Dave Roberts, GigaOm Cloud Computing News, published Jun. 9, 2012 []

The Challenges and Rewards of Open Source

Note!Below is the text of an article I wrote for the LYRASIS member newsletter in which I talk about how a community of users of open source software is as important (if not more so) than the code. I’m reposting it here for the DLTJ readership.

One of the challenging and rewarding aspects of open source software is building and sustaining the community that surrounds the software. It is challenging because people and institutions use open source software for a variety of reasons. For some, having the computer source code means that they are empowered to adapt the software to fit their needs. For others, contributing talent and budget to a communal effort – something arguably aligned with the general ethos of libraries – means that ultimately a better solution is created for their own users. Yet another group sees an open source solution as simply the best tool to solve a particular problem.

The leaders of an open source software community can find it challenging to focus this wide array of motivating factors in a way that keeps the project moving forward and satisfying to everyone. This is particularly true once the first phase of the software is written and published. Will a community form around this project that has consumed a lot of local resources? What if we’re swamped with so many questions and requests for tweaks that we can’t get our own jobs done? What if we put it out there and no one notices?

Ah, but consider the rewards. Working with open source software can enable you to join a community with the potential for impacts that go well beyond what one can do with off-the-shelf software. Whether you are an active user submitting bug reports and feature requests, a software developer adding fixes and new functionality, a documentation writer, or just someone who answers questions from peers based on your own experiences, you can become part of the active life of the project. The transparency of open source projects allows you to more clearly see the fruits of your efforts and determine whether a particular piece of software is going to meet the needs of your users now and in the future.

One such community is now forming through LYRASIS. LYRASIS Technology Services, a new option for members, is starting to offer consulting and hosting options for open source software as well as selected commercial and hybrid applications. Whatever your motivations for considering open source software, I hope that you will not only think about the software itself, but also consider the impact the community will have on you and your effect on the community.

For additional information about LYRASIS Technology Services, please contact Peter Murray, Assistant Director for Technology Services Development by email or telephone at 800-999-8558 x2955.

Now Working for LYRASIS

News of my joining Lyrasis has been officially reported (“Timothy Daniels and Peter Murray to Lead LYRASIS Technology Services” [PDF]) so I can talk about it here now. On September 10th I left OhioLINK to join LYRASIS on September 13th as the assistant director for the newly emerging LYRASIS Technology Services (LTS). Along with Tim Daniels, I’ll be forming a group to help members among the various open source and commercial software options works best for their situations, including options where LYRASIS can effectively and efficiently aggregate Software-as-a-Service hosting options.

On a personal note, one of the best parts about the position is that I will not have to move from central Ohio. Given that LYRASIS comes from the merger of three other consortia (PALINET, SOLINET, and NELINET) about 40% of staff are not in the LYRASIS home office in Atlanta. The organization is making use of virtual office tools such as video Skype and SharePoint to stay connected.

This new position shouldn’t impact the content of DLTJ. I probably won’t focus as much on the textbook ecosystem and accessibility services in higher education, but I’m sure these topics will be replaced by others. If anything, hopefully the posting frequency will increase back to its previous roughly-10-posts-per-month level.

Please update your contact information for me. My phone number is +1-678-235-2955 and e-mail address is