A new open source library platform: building and integrating microservices

Ron Burns - VP, Global Software Services, EBSCO Information Services


Commercial Integrated Library Systems (ILS) have traditionally been designed as monolithic software packages and have not always proven to be very flexible for users or developers. They also lacked many applications that have also become critical to the running of a library, or do not support the necessary open APIs that would allow for true interoperability. We are now in a period where the role of libraries is quickly evolving in many directions, and this raises the question, what development models could better support the increasing exploration and innovation in library technology?

A new collaboration is taking shape to develop a new open source library platform from the ground up. One of the project goals is to allow mixing and matching of modules, for example, combining a reporting module and an acquisition module developed by different groups or vendors. Another goal is to keep the barriers to entry as low as possible for developer participation, including supporting many programming languages and library technology platforms and systems. This approach draws inspiration from the ideas of microservice architecture and lessons learned from decades of experience with internet protocols and interoperability.

There is a tremendous opportunity to complement the great software that Koha has become, while providing a hub for future expansion in the future of open source library service platforms. The software that is being implemented includes basic library services and a platform to support integrating services. Moreover, the platform will allow future Koha extensions to “plug in” and support additional areas such as ERM, IR, and SSO. To ensure interoperability of modules the new collaboration is organizing an open, lightweight process for sharing and evolving concise, inter-module interfaces. These efforts in combination provide a framework for decentralized development of new library services.