FOLIO: An Open Library Services Platform

Back in April you might remember the news that EBSCO was giving $1 million (or more) to help fund the development of a new open library services platform (LSP).  American Libraries wrote about this on their blog post EBSCO Supports New Open Source Project.  EBSCO has a Vice President of Open Source Platforms & Communities, Christopher Spalding, who is taking an active role in the project.  At the time of EBSCO’s announcement the name of the project had not been announced.

At the Code4Lib 2016 Conference in March, Sebastian Hammer gave a talk on the state of the project at that time, still with no name.  Watch his presentation: Constructive Disintegration — Re-imagining the Library Platform as Microservices.  Some goals of the projet (from his slide) are:

  • Easy + fun to extend and customize
  • Apache 2 license: Everyone can play
  • Cloud-ready, multi-tenant, built around an open knowledge base, linked data, electronic and print resource management
  • Can be hosted by commercial vendors, library networks, or locally
  • Community-based
  • Modular — snap-in modules (apps) can be contributed by libraries or vendors.

During the ALA 2016 Annual Conference the FOLIO project was announced.

FOLIOFOLIO stands for the Future of Libraries is Open. It is currently a software platform to be used as a starting point to build library services. Consider FOLIO as a “cloud-based operating system” for applications.

The project is being led by the Denmark-based company Index Data headed by Sebastian Hammer (a panelist at the ALA 2016 Annual Conference) and the Open Library Environment (OLE) directed by Michael Winkler.  The main source of funding comes from EBSCO.  The Open Library Foundation, a nonprofit oversight organization, was set up to direct the project.

Index Data will be responsible for building the core platform which will be released as open source software under an Apache version 2.0 license.  The FOLIO platform software can be downloaded and installed locally or hosted on cloud-based servers from library vendors such as EBSCO, SirsiDynix, and ByWater Solutions.  Index Data intends to make the platform “as little as possible” and not create obstacles to development.

FOLIO Platform
Graphic from FOLIO.

Read the FOLIO press release: Introducing FOLIO – A new collaboration bringing libraries, service providers and developers together to speed innovation and redefine the future of library automation (June 24, 2016).

On top of the FOLIO platform, developers from library vendors, organizations, and member institutions will build modules, applications, and services.  Apps will include traditional ILS service modules such as Acquisitions, Cataloging, and Circulation.  We should eventually see LMS functionality including electronic resource management, OPAC, data conversion, and resource sharing.  Native Linked Data output is not in the works but it is expected that this model will be supported.

Developers of existing library services can choose to port their applications to FOLIO or simply build integration points to their current systems.  The FOLIO platform should make software with open APIs even more attractive to users.

In August, Index Data will release prototype code on GitHub.  Developers can then turn their attention to building microservices.  Note that although the FOLIO platform itself is open source and free, some of the premium apps built to run on it might be created and sold by library vendors.

FOLIO can also be thought of as a community of institutions and vendors working together.  There are many ways to interact and get involved with the FOLIO community:

FOLIO Website – News updates at

OLE Website – Blog posts at

Email Lists – Subscribe and archives at


OLE on Twitter@ole_community

FOLIO Forum on Twitter#FOLIOForum

We will certainly be following this project and bringing you more information as the platform launches and develops.