SOAS University of London

SOAS Library

Library System Change


  • Why did we replace Millennium?

    Our Millennium system was installed as an upgrade to Innopac in 1999. Innopac had been chosen in the mid-1990s as a replacement for the Libertas system operated as part of the University of London central services. The underlying technology in the Millennium system is not much changed since the early-1990s. The company that provides Millennium (Innovative Interfaces Inc or III) is no longer developing the system as it is working on a replacement called Sierra.

    When we reviewed our options for Millennium in 2011, Sierra was not available to review and III wanted to charge us quite a large sum of money to transfer the existing system to new hardware. We concluded that it made sense to consider other Library System options before deciding whether to invest further in the III offering.

    The traditional library systems do not meet the requirements of the 21st Century hybrid library, which has to manage print, e-journals, e-books, databases, on- and off-site access, repositories, digital archives and the emerging field of Open Access and Research Data Management.

    When looking for a new system, we need a much more flexible and extensible system that can be adapted to our new ways of working now and in the future.

  • How did we come to choose Kuali OLE?

    In 2011, a group of staff from the University of London Bloomsbury Colleges and Senate House Library started to consider the options for replacement of their library systems. It rapidly became clear that Open Source library systems software was viable and worth considering alongside other options. It was also clear that – particularly for smaller libraries – collaboration was more effective than acting alone. A vision of a shared service started to emerge in a context where several successful examples of shared systems already existed. The idea of a BLMS (Bloomsbury Library Management System) was formed.

    A number of SOAS staff were involved in the presentations which we saw in 2011 and 2012 including Staffordshire University which had recently implemented Koha (an Open Source system from New Zealand) and a company called PTFS which demonstrated Evergreen (a consortial open source system from the US).

    In 2012, Jisc announced an "LMS Change" programme to address what it called the "squeezed middle" (Library Systems sitting between its Discovery initiatives on the one side and its e-resources Knowledge Base on the other). The Bloomsbury Colleges and Senate House Library wrote up a proposal for a "pathfinder" project to explore the options for a shared-service approach to replacement of the various Library Systems at the 6 libraries. Jisc didn't offer funding but the BLMS partners decided to proceed anyway as we all needed new systems.  A project manager was employed and work commenced.

    In 2012, a series of "horizon scanning" events were held (a number of SOAS staff were present alongside colleagues from the other libraries) to review the options. We saw presentations about the "road maps" for Koha, Evergreen, Kuali OLE, Ex Libris, III, OCLC and Sirsi Dynix.

    On the basis of a formal scoring process, supplemented by some financial modelling, Kuali OLE was the system that was the best fit for the BLMS requirements. In October 2012 the BLMS partners announced a decision in principle to adopt Kuali OLE.

  • What happened to the idea of a shared service?

    The work which has gone into the Kuali OLE system which SOAS will be using is the result of a collaborative process amongst the Bloomsbury libraries, which included a shared project manager, a shared business analyst, working groups of systems libraries which prepared a detailed Functional Requirement and Technical Specification, a shared approach to procurement and preparations for the formation of a joint venture to provide the on-going support model.

    The development of Kuali OLE is being undertaken by the Kuali OLE Partnership, a consortium of mainly US academic libraries operating as part of the Kuali Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the development of open source ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) systems for education institutions. OLE is part of a suite which includes a Finance system, a Research Administration system, a Business Continuity System, an HR system, a Student system and a mobile applications system.

    The BLMS partners joined the Kuali Foundation and the OLE Partnership in May 2013. The collaborative approach in Bloomsbury therefore led to membership of an organisation that is using a collaborative approach to developing the software.

    Although the other Bloomsbury libraries are still considering their options for implementing OLE, the SOAS implementation is part of a genuine shared approach to development and support of the software.

    In July 2014, Lehigh University saw the first live implementation of the Kuali OLE, followed by the University of Chicago. SOAS Library went live on April 2015, watched closely by other UK HE libraries. In the US, OLE is gathering pace and another four or five libraries will be on the new system by 2016.

  • Where are we now?

    We’ve seen a number of improvements to our Library system since the launch in April 2015. We are now concentrating on:

    • Making the system work faster when you use the self-service machines or look up your records online
    • Ensuring that you can manage your Reservations
    • Enabling you to pay your fines more easily

    We expect to launch these improvements by the start of Term 2. Thank you for your patience!