PHILADELPHIA — August 22, 2023 — The Open Library Foundation (OLF) is introducing the Open Resource Sharing Coalition (OpenRS), a resource sharing initiative created in partnership with library consortia, open source developers, and vendors. OpenRS is a heterogeneous resource sharing system that is ILS and Discovery agnostic and accommodates the full spectrum of mediated and unmediated resource sharing.
OpenRS acts upon a “consortia first” mentality, striving to provide libraries with the tools needed for robust and extended functionality for resource sharing. The project will focus on developing and implementing software systems, protocols, and best practices that foster collaboration and support various library services, including seamless unmediated intra-consortial borrowing functionality and expanded sharing across multiple consortia. The software will provide a containerized code base configured for ease of deployment, maintenance, and upgrades. Libraries and consortia can choose to host the service locally or with a third party.
Project governance will be centralized in a governing board elected by contributing partners and will also rely on feedback from a wide community of project adopters and investors. The coalition recognizes that the project will only succeed if all stakeholders’ needs – whether libraries, consortia, developers, or vendors – are heard, validated, and addressed. Coalition governance will be based on open source principles and rely on trust, transparency, agility, and a welcoming community.
OpenRS will be an Open Library Foundation (OLF) project which operates with an open, transparent approach, emphasizing the best practices for open source governance and DevSecOps. The OpenRS software is built and maintained by Knowledge Integration, with support from EBSCO Information Services (EBSCO). Additional OpenRS Community members include representatives from the MOBIUS consortium, GALILEO/University System of Georgia (USG), Marmot Library Network, Boston Library Consortium, Colorado Alliance of Research Libraries, and others.
Executive Director of MOBIUS, Donna Bacon, shares the importance of an engaged open source community with a common goal. “MOBIUS has a long history of working within open source communities, and we have seen firsthand the impact that an engaged, vibrant, and transparent community can have on library and user experience. With OpenRS, we are thrilled to be part of a diverse group of stakeholders dedicated to building an open and sustainable solution that meets the unique resource sharing needs of consortia. OpenRS will create opportunities for growth and expansion of services for our consortium that once seemed impossible using traditional tools.”
Co-Founder and Director of Knowledge Integration, Ian Ibbotson, explains Knowledge Integration’s involvement in the community throughout the years. “For more than twenty years, Knowledge Integration has worked with and listened to the needs of the library community, evolving the way we bring these institutions together. With OpenRS, we have found a kinship with libraries and organizations with the vision and intellectual curiosity to conceive of a genuinely open resource sharing ecosystem designed around library and patron needs rather than a short-term business opportunity.” Ian explains how Direct Consortial Borrowing (DCB) compares to the traditional Interlibrary Loan (ILL). “We soon realized we needed to pay more attention to a fundamentally important concept: Direct Consortial Borrowing. We see DCB as fundamentally complementary to ILL – a unifying vision that sets us apart from other projects in the space.”
President of the OLF Board of Directors, Tom Cramer, says, “We are delighted to have OpenRS in the Open Library Foundation’s ‘community of communities.’ They are bringing innovative open source software that will be a valuable addition to the ecosystem supporting libraries. And with their commitment to open source and community governance, they will be a natural complement to other OLF projects.”
While yet to be an official project, OLF is expected to approve the OpenRS charter by the end of August. An official web presence will be added to the OLF site soon. Core OpenRS functionality for direct consortial borrowing will be rolled out as part of the MOBIUS release in May 2024. Additional features and functionality will be determined based on coalition feedback and implemented over the coming months and years.
About the Open Library Foundation
The Open Library Foundation was created in 2016 as an unbiased, independent not-for-profit organization to ensure the availability, accessibility and sustainability of open source and open access projects for and by libraries. Software developed by communities hosted by the Foundation is freely available under common open source licenses for personal, institutional or commercial use. The software is open and free in order to sustain an open collaboration of interested parties. The Foundation provides infrastructure by which the library community at large can organize, contribute to, and benefit from our projects — ensuring availability and a “safe haven” for member communities’ output that is separated from the needs and goals of any single contributor, user or affiliated party. Find out more at www.openlibraryfoundation.org.
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