Academic Libraries Implement New ILS, IR Developed by CERN

Millersville University and Caltech have recently implemented library systems developed by TIND, a commercial spin-off of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). TIND’s suite of solutions is based on CERN’s open source Invenio Digital Library Framework.

CERN Tech LogoMillersville University Library, PA, is implementing an institutional repository (IR) solution developed by TIND, a commercial spinoff of the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN). Millersville is the fourth U.S. university library to adopt one of TIND’s solutions. The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) has been using the TIND integrated library system (ILS) for more than a year and a half, and is currently implementing TIND’s research data repository. The University of Minnesota Library recently began running its Agricultural and Applied Economics subject repository, AgEcon Search, on TIND’s hosted platform. And Olin College of Engineering, MA, implemented the TIND ILS last year.

TIND’s suite of solutions was developed with CERN’s open source Invenio Digital Library Framework, created in 2002 to run CERN’s document server, which manages over 1,000,000 bibliographic records. Following its registration in 2013, TIND was launched in 2015 to provide implementation, cloud-based hosting, feature development, and other support services for this portfolio, and the company is promoting them as leaner, less costly alternatives to systems developed by commercial vendors for academic and special libraries. In addition to the libraries listed above, other adopters include the United Nations, the Max-Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, the UNESCO International Bureau of Education, and the International Telecommunications Union.

“We really appreciate their philosophical approach of [e-resources] first, physical second,” Scott Anderson, information systems librarian for Millersville, said regarding TIND’s suite of products, and the library’s decision to adopt the TIND IR, after using a consortial IR solution for about eight years. “In my mind, it’s a really good bundling opportunity…even if you’ve got another ILS,” Anderson said. “It’s a very sound coupling…. We  also appreciated the fact that their terms give us access to developers at a specified rate, so if we want [specific functionality] we have an easy mechanism to determine exactly how much that would cost us.”


When Kristin Antelman was appointed university librarian/director for Caltech in 2014, there was “a readiness to do an ILS migration,” from Innovative Interface’s Millennium ILS, she told LJ. “We felt that we weren’t utilizing a lot of the features of our [former] system, and that we hadn’t necessarily kept up to date with it. It was more ILS than we needed.”

When investigating the options, cost was a factor, but not the primary one, Antelman said. “What I was really looking for was a platform that was flexible in meeting multiple needs that went beyond the ILS. In terms of [our] organizational culture, I wanted to move away from ILS-centric thinking and workflows.” The TIND ILS includes essential cataloging, patron record management, and circulation features, as well as integrated digital content management and interlibrary loan features, and a statistics analysis tool that can generate customized reports regarding the collection. It also supports multilingual content in 28 languages, and can be customized to support multiple-language user interfaces.

TIND is also preparing to launch an integrated electronic resource management module, as well as an acquisitions and serials module. Separately, the IR supports all file types, including articles, preprints, and theses, as well as multimedia content such as pictures, video, and audio. It is compatible with the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI-PMH) and the Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit (SWORD) interoperability standard, and the IR’s architecture follows the Open Archival Information System (OAIS) model, providing support for digital preservation. And, it is integrated with SHERPA/RoMEO, CrossRef, and DataCite, enabling autocomplete of input fields and auto-filling of metadata in submission forms. The Invenio framework features an Elasticsearch-based search engine, and allows for metadata, full-text, and citation searches, as well as faceted searching, and advanced searches with Boolean operators including proximity operators, truncation and wildcard operators, and exact operators/stop words.


Many academic librarians may cheer the emergence of a new competitor in a market that is currently dominated by a shrinking number of proprietary vendors. In a recent LJ survey, 43 percent of respondents from academic libraries described themselves as somewhat or completely dissatisfied with their current ILS, and more than 57 percent said they were concerned about ongoing consolidation in the ILS market. Although many respondents expressed concern regarding the need for in-house expertise if opting for an open source solution, CERN will continue to develop and support Invenio for its own use, ensuring that the underlying open source framework is regularly updated.

TIND will provide development support for library customers. But both Antelman and Anderson noted that these solutions, while fully functional, are still being refined. While Invenio’s code is open source, CERN has driven the project’s development. As a result, it was tailored to CERN’s collections and workflows.

“The platform was not developed for libraries,” Antelman said. “It was developed by researchers for researchers.”

While some libraries might consider that a drawback, Antelman said it “was very appealing to us. And it’s a modern platform with modern interfaces and modern underlying technology, etc.” Antelman noted that “obviously you have to have basic functionality to run the library and serve your patrons. So we looked at ‘what is that core functionality?’” As early adopters, Caltech and Millersville also have the company’s ear, offering suggestions for features and describing pain points, which will undoubtedly help shape TIND’s development.

“Everybody likes to be able to help write the rules or help write the software,” Anderson said. “We don’t have the technical prowess to do that. But clearly if we have a use case and we can generalize it as something that has been a thorn in our side for many years, then let’s talk about how we would [fix] that…. There is a level of attraction in having the opportunity to give back through helping establish functionality that meets the need of institutions like ours without incurring all of the overhead” that would be needed for in-house open source development.

TIND’s small but growing base of academic library customers will help shape new features that will make these systems more functional in research environments outside of CERN, but early adopters should be prepared to adapt, likely by simplifying policies and workflows. Antelman added that working with a new system like TIND is a tradeoff. “When libraries make these decisions, it’s hard to balance those objectives. One objective is very practical—you want staff to be able to continue to do their work. And one objective is much more long term and strategic—the desire to transform your organization through implementing modern systems and questioning the existing functions that are being performed, the status quo. Those are, in a way, competing priorities.”

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

Jim C

In Game of Thrones - oft said "Winter is coming" For the ILS Winter is coming

Posted : Jun 07, 2017 12:32



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing