Can FOLIO and Perpetua Work Together?

Technology Workflow | Matthew Addis| February 25, 2020

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Arkivum CTO and Founder Matthew Addis reflects on WOLFcon 2020 and explores the integration of FOLIO and Perpetua for long-term data management.

Can a single library system be used to find content across inventory, special collections, archives, scholarly outputs, subscriptions and more?  WOLFcon gave Arkivum the chance to talk to librarians about long-term data management and building on the FOLIO platform.

FOLIO is a next-generation, open source Library Services Platform that helps libraries manage orders, inventory, circulation and subscriptions. Perpetua is a solution for long-term data management of other types of content that a library might have, including special collections, archives, scholarly outputs, research data, teaching materials and more. FOLIO and Perpetua both help manage physical and digital content that libraries own, subscribe to, or need to otherwise manage. But each system has its own set of users, workflows, content types and metadata standards. Can and should these be brought together under one roof? Many libraries are frustrated with multiple systems that have different functions and manage different content types — especially as these systems don’t talk to each other and can’t be searched in a common way.

WOLFcon, an annual conference of the Open Library Foundation, was held at Texas A&M in January and brought together a couple of hundred people from one of the warmest, friendliest and knowledgeable communities you could ever hope to work in. People were there from across the world to discuss every aspect of library services. There were librarians, metadata specialists, developers, sysops, vendors and everyone in-between needed to conceive, design, develop, deploy, use and run a library system. At Arkivum, we work with libraries quite a lot, but typically on solutions for research data or special collections and archives.

FOLIO is set to go a long, long way and we want to help make this happen and are looking forward to being part of the journey.

WOLFcon was eye-opening because it allowed me to get a better handle on the core aspects of library services, (e.g. inventory and circulation), and the scale this needs to operate on. While 100,000 users seems common for large academic libraries who have inventories of one million items or more, multiply that by ten, or even 100, and you get to the scale of large public libraries, especially those operating at a national level. For example, it was truly awe-inspiring to learn about the plans of the Shanghai public library and what they want to do with FOLIO over the next couple of years. Exciting times are ahead for FOLIO!

FOLIO has grown rapidly as a project over the last couple of years. Several institutions I talked to are excited about their plans for implementation over the next 12 months, which shows FOLIO is rapidly coming to maturity. The scale of the problem that FOLIO is trying to solve, and the velocity of the project has, understandably, meant that the focus so far has been core library services functionality such as ordering and lending. But this doesn’t mean that FOLIO folks don’t have an eye on other types of content that they own and manage. Indeed, there’s a FOLIO Special Interest Group on Special Collections and Archives (SC&A) that identified the opportunity to connect FOLIO with systems more commonly used for this type of content, for example Archive Management Systems. This is exactly one of the things that Perpetua provides — so we thought “let’s see what we can do” and we began working to integrate Perpetua with FOLIO. That’s the beauty of open-source and open-communities — you can just get on and do this sort of thing.

Learn more about Perpetua

FOLIO is a flexible platform that supports multiple apps that can work together, like apps for managing inventory and placing orders. One of these apps is the “Codex Search” which provides a way to search for items across multiple content sources, both within an organization but also in external locations. For example, the Codex Search is how EBSCO has integrated its content offerings into FOLIO by providing a “Knowledge Base” and the ability to search it using the FOLIO Codex. The Codex is FOLIO’s core data model and works like a common interlingua across apps that each provide and manage content of different types. When you search the Codex, FOLIO sends your search to all apps that support the Codex search API and then the Codex-search app assembles a list of matches for you. This means you have a single “Google-like” search facility that you can use to locate content in your local inventory; in content services you’ve subscribed to; in external sources via GOkb; and, in our case, Special Collections and Archives content held in Perpetua. FOLIO, via the Codex, becomes a place to find a wide range of content using a common search interface that is able to filter/refine results. If you then want to find out more about a matching item that’s returned from a search, you just click on the result and you get directed to that content either within FOLIO (if it’s in your inventory), or to an external system such as Perpetua where you can view it in full detail.

We presented a proof-of-concept of our Perpetua-FOLIO integration at WOLFcon. The focus was Special Collections and Archives, but we can’t wait to try using FOLIO to find scholarly outputs and research data that a library might have held in Perpetua. It’s very early days, but we had lots of interest from the FOLIO Community and we are now ready to jump in with both feet and start collaborating more closely with FOLIO subject matter experts and developers on where to go next. That’s the point of an open-source community — everyone works together and shares ideas, code and solutions. It reminds me of the African proverb “If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go together”. We made fast progress by doing a prototype and hitching a free ride on the great work done by FOLIO so far, but now we want to work more closely with the FOLIO community and play our part.

FOLIO is set to go a long, long way and we want to help make this happen and are looking forward to being part of the journey.

Learn more about FOLIO

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Matthew Addis
Co-Founder and CTO, Digital Preservation Technical Lead, Arkivum

Matthew is CTO and Founder of Arkivum, responsible for technical strategy. Matthew previously worked at the University of Southampton IT Innovation Centre. Over the last fifteen years, Matthew has worked with a wide range of organizations in the UK, Europe and US on solving the challenges of long-term data retention and access.

Matthew’s expertise includes digital preservation strategies, system architectures, total cost of ownership, how to mitigate the risk of loss of critical data assets and building business cases for both compliance and asset value scenarios.

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