Library of Congress Goes with Open-Source System, Folio

NISO Member News

Washington DC | September 22, 2022

The Library of Congress has awarded a major contract to further develop and implement a new, open-source IT platform that will revolutionize how the Library’s vast physical and digital collections are managed and made accessible for the public, Congress, Library employees and other institutions.

The new Library Collections Access Platform software application will serve as the heart of the Library’s collections management operations, connecting several stand-alone IT systems into a one-stop shop for the acquisition, description, inventory and discovery of Library collections.

The Library awarded an IDIQ contract to EBSCO Information Services, of Ipswich, Massachusetts with an initial spend of $7.77 million. The first phase of the platform's development will cost $10.4 million over three years to meet the scale and complexity of the Library’s operations, with options to invest in additional components that could be developed by other vendors and may extend beyond the three-year timeframe.

EBSCO will tailor FOLIO, a community-developed open-source library services solution, to provide a library service platform that meets the Library’s IT requirements and the needs of the Library’s users.

"This is a milestone in our journey to implement a user-centered approach to connecting more people to the Library’s collections," said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden. "We are grateful for Congress’ generous investment in this next-generation system that is essential to the Library’s digital-forward strategy, which harnesses technology to bridge geographical divides, expand our reach and enhance our services.” 

The platform will replace several legacy IT systems and provide Library staff with new, more efficient tools and workflows to manage continuously growing physical and digital collections at scale. It will offer researchers a streamlined discovery experience and new ways to access high quality metadata. It also will enable the use of BIBFRAME, a new bibliographic description standard being developed by the Library and partner organizations that uses a linked data model to make bibliographic information more useful both within and outside the library community. 

When the platform is fully operational, it will enable users to perform comprehensive searches of the extensive collections of the world's largest library. The system will have more advanced IT security controls and will accommodate evolving technology and growing digital content.

“The Library of Congress has long played a pivotal role in developing open formats and standards for the library community. An open-source solution that supports linked open data will have benefits beyond just the Library’s workforce and users, supporting other institutions nationwide,” said Kate Zwaard, associate librarian for discovery and preservation services.

"Implementation of the Library Collections Access Platform is one of the Library's highest technology priorities,” said Robin Dale, deputy librarian for library collections and services. “This new system will enable the Library to keep pace with technological change and give it the flexibility to accommodate the range of digital content that the Library manages and provides to its users."

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.