Mellon Funds Design of Next-Generation Library System

A $475,700 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Duke University Libraries will lead to the design of a next-generation, open-source library system that is flexible, customizable and nimble enough to meet the changing and complex needs of 21st-century libraries and library users. The goal of the Open Library Environment (OLE) Project is to develop a design document for library automation technology that fits modern library workflows, is built on Service Oriented Architecture, and offers an alternative to commercial Integrated Library System products.

Leaders of the OLE Project, representing libraries in the U.S., Canada, and Australia, will involve the library community in the design process through workshops, meetings, webcasts and online discussions. Through those activities, they will develop a plan for a library technology system that breaks away from an emphasis on print-based workflows, reflects the changing nature of library materials and new approaches to scholarly work, meshes well with other enterprise systems, and can be modified easily to suit the needs of different institutions. The project website at gives detailed information about the project and includes FAQs, recommended reading, and a comment section.

“The information environment is changing rapidly, but the technology of library management systems has not kept pace,” said Lynne O’Brien, principal investigator on the project and director of Academic Technology and Instructional Services for the Duke University Libraries. “This project is a wonderful opportunity to design a system that supports library innovation and better meets the needs of today’s researchers.”

O’Brien is joined on the OLE Project team by colleagues from Duke as well individuals from the University of Kansas, Lehigh University, the University of Pennsylvania, the National Library of Australia, Library and Archives Canada, Vanderbilt University, the Orbis Cascade Alliance, Rutgers University, the University of Florida, the University of Chicago, Columbia University, the University of Maryland and Whittier College.

Because the OLE Project is a collaborative, community-based venture, there will be many opportunities for individuals from other libraries to participate in the project through regional and virtual meetings, discussion of plans and documents, comments via the project website and listserv and discussions at professional meetings.

In addition to its development of a design document, the OLE Project is intended to create a community of interest that could be tapped to build the planned system in a follow-on project.

One thought on “Mellon Funds Design of Next-Generation Library System”

  1. I’m the University librarian at Université Laval in Québec. I’m writing on behalf of the university libraries committee in Québec province. We are organizing a day of reflection on actuality topics and we would be very interested in hearing about your project by videoconference. Would someboby be available on the 8th of may to talk to us about it?

    Many thanks for your interest and reply.

    Silvie Delorme, University librarian
    Universié Laval, Québec

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