Chapter 4. Kuali OLE (Defunct)

General Background

Kuali OLE was a project that intended to develop an enterprise-class library services platform for academic and research libraries. The project was active from 2007 through April 2016 with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation with in-kind and financial contributions from participating institutions. The Kuali OLE software was implemented in three institutions: the University of Chicago, Lehigh University, and the SOAS Library of the University of London. This version addressed only print resource management and not the full vision of Kuali OLE to provide comprehensive resource management.

The Open Library Environment organization, which managed the Kuali OLE project, continues to be active. The organization has shifted its efforts from building its own software to supporting the FOLIO project.

The eventual demise of the Kuali OLE project illustrates some of the risks involved in open source development initiatives. Factors involved in this project included both technology and business issues. An early decision to partner with the Kuali Foundation and rely on its Kuali Rice middleware as the enterprise service bus for the project ultimately proved unfortunate. Kuali Rice did not advance forward to be able to support the multitenant architecture that was increasingly expected of enterprise business applications. The Kuali projects also made a major transition from nonprofit foundation support to a commercial business environment. These events meant that its low-level technical infrastructure was no longer viable, and the project did not have the resources to shift to a new architecture at a relatively late phase in software development. The advent of the FOLIO project provided the best path forward for the libraries engaged with Kuali OLE to continue their pursuit of an open source library services platform.

Table 4.1, initially presented in the May 2016 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter, summarizes the projects’ grants from the Mellon Foundation.

Chapter Resources

Smart Libraries Newsletter provided extensive coverage of the Kuali OLE project.

Breeding, Marshall. “Mellon-Funded OLE Project Underway to Define Next-Generation Library Automation.” Smart Libraries Newsletter 28, no. 10 (October 2008): 1–3.

———. “OLE Advances Forward through the Kuali Foundation.” Smart Libraries Newsletter 30, no. 1 (January 2010): 1–5.

———. “Kuali OLE Receives Additional Round of Funding.” Smart Libraries Newsletter 33, no. 3 (March 2013): 6.

———. “Kuali OLE: The Open Source Library Services Platform.” Smart Libraries Newsletter 33, no. 9 (September 2013): 1–2.

———. “Kuali OLE Release 1.0.” Smart Libraries Newsletter 34, no. 1 (January 2014): 5.

———. “Kuali OLE Now in Production.” Smart Libraries Newsletter 34, no. 10 (October 2014): 2–4.

———. “Kuali Shifts to a Commercial Business Model.” Smart Libraries Newsletter 34, no. 10 (October 2014): 4–7.

———. “Update on Kuali OLE.” Smart Libraries Newsletter 35, no. 7 (July 2015): 6.

Table 4.1. Grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for Kuali OLE projects

Date Announced





Duke University

Build Phase, Increase technical capacity of core partners



Indiana University

Kuali OLE Build



Indiana University

Kuali OLE Build



North Carolina State University

Global Open Knowledge Base



Indiana University

Kuali OLE Build



Duke University

Planning phase





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