Michigan State University Begins Transition to the FOLIO Library Services Platform

Michigan State University will migrate to the open source FOLIO Library Services Platform, and will fully implement FOLIO in 2021, it announced today. EBSCO Information Services will provide hosting, implementation, training, and development support, and will leverage integrations with EBSCO Discovery Service and OpenAthens access management.

Michigan State University's main library in the springMichigan State University (MSU) will migrate to the open source FOLIO Library Services Platform (LSP), and will fully implement FOLIO in 2021, it announced today. EBSCO Information Services will provide hosting, implementation, training, and development support, and will leverage integrations with EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) and OpenAthens access management. EDS will be the primary interface for most of the libraries’ print and electronic resources, with OpenAthens enabling single sign-on.

While MSU has long been a supporter of open source projects, FOLIO was selected following a standard request for proposal (RFP) process, Dean of University Libraries Joseph Salem told LJ. “We went into the process with an open mind, and EBSCO responded,” he said, later adding that FOLIO “is an exciting, continuously evolving project. There aren’t a lot of options in the market…. [FOLIO] is a move to where the tools are going to be.”

MSU will be continuing its longstanding partnership with the Library of Michigan (LM), and State Librarian Randy Riley expressed enthusiasm about the migration as well. “Through this collaborative arrangement, LM will gain access to a next generation open source catalog that is versatile, flexible, and highly customizable,” Riley said in a statement. “The agreement also makes available EBSCO’s user-friendly public interface and their state-of-the-art discovery layer.”

There are always challenges during migrations to new LSPs, Anya Arnold, EBSCO FOLIO Services Consultant, North America, told LJ. “A lot of [MSU] staff have always used Sierra, so we’re working with staff on…change management,” she said. “But everyone is really onboard there with trying something new.” EBSCO’s team of FOLIO consultants are former librarians who have all worked on system migrations, she added, “so we are able to put ourselves in the shoes of [staff] at the library during implementation…. We virtually shadow their current workflow and then map that workflow onto FOLIO and see where we need to adjust…. We’re active listeners throughout this process, and we really want to give the library the sense that they own the system.”

 

GROWING COMMUNITY

Like any open source project, FOLIO needs to expand its user and developer base to grow, and recent implementations by a variety of colleges and universities are a promising sign for the project’s long-term sustainability. Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden was the first to go live in 2019, and this year Missouri State University, Simmons University, Warner University, St. Thomas University, Washington & Jefferson College, and Lehigh University went live. The University of Alabama is currently implementing the FOLIO LSP, and like MSU, Cornell University and Texas A&M are planning to go live in 2021. Most of these institutions are using hosting, development, and support services provided by companies such as EBSCO, Index Data, or ByWater Solutions.

Additionally, several other institutions, including Duke University and the Five Colleges—Amherst College, Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and the University of Massachusetts/Amherst—are using FOLIO’s Electronic Resource Management apps.

Being a relatively early adopter of the platform is part of the appeal, Salem said. These institutions “are part of a community, and we all get to shape the project…. There’s a cautious anxiety about any implementation, but I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm on our team” regarding FOLIO’s potential.

Like other open source library projects such as Koha and Evergreen, institutions can suggest features for development through the community forum or pay third-party developers for faster creation of features they need without waiting to build consensus on their importance. EBSCO’s FOLIO Services team will do development work for customers on a contractual basis, “but FOLIO itself, since it is open source, [libraries] can propose as many enhancements as they want through the community,” Arnold said.

FOLIO’s modularity and extensibility is another key feature. Apache 2.0 licensing allows libraries, vendors, and third-party developers to create free or for-fee apps for the platform, which could ultimately enable libraries to tailor the system to their specific needs.

In addition to providing the initial funding for the open source platform’s development, EBSCO has been a leading advocate for FOLIO, encouraging participation from other library vendors, facilitating community development work, and offering grants to libraries and third-party developers through programs such as the EBSCO FOLIO Innovation Challenge. Harry Kaplanian, VP of Product Management for EBSCO Information Services, noted that EBSCO collectively represents the largest set of development resources working on the FOLIO project. “As a community, we want to see features being added and updated often and quickly, and that’s something we strive to do. We work with everyone else in the community as well…and we work really hard to make sure everything works cohesively”

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Matt Enis

menis@mediasourceinc.com

@MatthewEnis

Matt Enis (matthewenis.com) is Senior Editor, Technology for Library Journal.

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