Skip to content

Open Bibliographic Data Management Project Grant Application

Project Title: Bibliographic Data Management Options Planning Grant

Budget: $225,000

Allowable Expense Category: Assessments of Technology (status and needs)

Library Name: Private Academic Library Network of Indiana

Library Type: Consortium

Library Street Address:

PALNI c/o Irwin Library

4553 Clarendon Road

Indianapolis, IN 46208

Executive Director: Kirsten Leonard

Email: kleonard @

Project Co-Director: Noah Brubaker

Project Co-Director email: nbrubaker @

Project Title: Bibliographic Data Management Options Planning Grant

Brief Description

This project will explore existing needs and options for low-cost openly available cataloging data and creation tools in open source systems including understanding the business model and sustainability and understanding the rights and limitations of metadata sharing. If there isn’t a suitable alternative present, the project will gather specifications and explore the feasibility of using existing infrastructures to share bibliographic data and develop principles for the community governance and business model to sustain it.

The primary work outputs of this project would include:

  1. Developing a broad group of stakeholders in Indiana and from other library consortia that will be able to support carrying the work forward and produce a report on community needs for a bibliographic entity.
  2. A report on currently available bibliographic utilities, data sources, costs, use permissions, and extensibility.
  3. If a viable low-cost bibliographic utility with open use permissions does not exist, the project will develop a defined minimum viable product feature set, development plan and illustrative design wireframes, cost estimates, and governance and business structures, and possible integration into other open initiatives and infrastructure.

Project Narrative

Benefit to the State

Academic libraries in just PALNI alone pay almost $200,000 per year for access to bibliographic data and creation tools. Not only could an alternative reduce costs, but it could also be leveraged to reduce staff time. Many public libraries in Indiana lack the funds to subscribe to existing cataloging services. In addition, currently used bibliographic data services are highly restricted in use that limits collaboration and analysis. An open infrastructure could provide new ways to understand our collections. Students and the general public will benefit by being able to access cataloged material more quickly and with lower cost to their library system allowing funds and staff to be directed to other services or resources of public benefit.

Project Need and Description

Libraries have been facing two long-term trends: decreasing or stagnant budgets and increasing commercial vendor fees, creating an unsustainable financial picture and affecting the delivery of core services. Over the past few years, an effort to create community-owned software solutions has emerged to specifically reduce the dependence on commercial vendors including the associated rising fees and, through ongoing consolidation, reduction of competition and choice in the library marketplace. 

Within the community-owned open source library software landscape, there is a gap in tools focused on bibliographic record data management and workflows.  There are individual bibliographic repositories available from institutions and some consortia, but no known generally available method for interested groups of libraries to work with and share bibliographic information affordably.  The ability to perform these functions in a low-cost, open way preserves library agency and the ability to work in a way that best serves the users and eliminates artificial barriers to interoperability and collaboration imposed by commercial interests. The first stage of this project will work with the Indiana library community and the consortia representing other states to understand needs and to build a community that can help to govern and sustain an ongoing service. The second stage will closely examine existing tools and services to identify if an existing system exists or can be expanded or enhanced to meet the needs of open source, open standards, and low cost. This examination will include services being provided by other countries such as the United Kingdom as well as open record sources like the Library of Congress. In addition, the project will review the usage rights of bibliographic metadata held by institutions to understand current permissions and limitations of the data for open sharing.

If no existing system or service can meet these needs, the third stage of the project will work with the community to create a wireframe for a low-cost, openly available system for facilitating the interchange of library-created bibliographic information. The system will provide for an exchange of bibliographic data between libraries and improve the interoperability of other open source systems relying on common bibliographic data – holdings, interlibrary loan, collection analysis, etc.  Over the past year, there have been discussions in the FOLIO (The Future of Libraries is Open) Consortia Special Interest Group on the need for such a Bibliographic Utility, and a brief vision document was created (See Appendix A).  This vision document solicited input from a number of individual libraries and consortia to take this first step.  The next step, through the planning grant, is to provide a complete report, detailed feature set, and development plan. In addition, a recent meeting of a group of library consortia representing academic and public libraries overwhelmingly supported the project and are willing to serve as advisors to the project and pull information from their constituents. 

The bibliographic utility is not being envisioned as a replacement of the existing suite of OCLC bibliographic services. This utility will not replace the full scope of audience and broad goal in centrally indexing the world’s holdings. The intention is focused on open and affordable solutions, and will consider solutions that retain data in distributed nodes rather than one single database to support cost-reduction. Light-weight technology to reduce duplication and to leverage the work of individual libraries will be explored with the goal of a low-cost, “good enough” technology to meet evolving needs. In addition, exploration will be given for an OpenID for bibliographic records to link to other standard identifying information like DOI, ORCID, ISBN, ISSN, and others. 

Utility Description

This grant will enable the identification of the design and technology to address the bibliographic management gap described above. Areas of study include:

  1. Bibliographic System Models
    1. A central repository of openly available bibliographic records and standard connectors to facilitate use in library systems.
    2. A hybrid system with a centralized bibliographic data store and API or similar searching methods.
    3. A decentralized system relying on standards based APIs for performing necessary bibliographic functions from within a library system or through a bibliographic record tool.
  2. Identification of Standards
    1. Bibliographic record identification standards such as an OpenID number.
    2. Record transmission, access, creation, manipulation, or record grouping methodologies.
    3. Standards for maintaining record quality and integrity.

ARPA Funding Request: $225,000

Professional Services (Legal, technical, business marketplace analysis, project coordination $217,000
Communication and Transportation (Meetings) $3,000
Indirect Costs


Budget Narrative

Cost will include a part-time project manager, business analysis services, legal services, and development experts. In-kind support will be provided by cataloging experts and consortia staff.  The Communication & Transportation Costs will be to support community meetings across stakeholder groups to gather specifications and to build the collaborative structure to sustain the project outcomes going forward. 

Appendix A: Bibliographic Utility Vision Document from the FOLIO Consortia Special Interest Group


The Bib Utility is a community-driven open source bibliographic record database platform.  The goals of the utility are to provide an approach to contain costs, facilitate community work contributions, and enhance system interoperability and reduce data exchange restrictions to create a robust bibliographic record resource.


The system is both a central repository for bibliographic records that all participating users can copy from and will harvest records from other open sources such as national libraries or other consortial systems.  It automatically finds duplicate records and provides a master record for users to copy or reference.  The Bib Utility will serve as a model employing consistent standards and focusing on interoperability.  The system will support both centralized and decentralized cataloging models.

We recognize that e-resources will need to be considered as we develop this model. Further discussion with ReShare and other groups will determine whether or how to include e-resources in this Bib Utility.

User Stories

As a cataloger...

Database Maintenance
  • As a cataloger, I want a source of bibliographic records that I can link to.
    • When linking to bibliographic records I want to be able to:
      • Attach local holdings to central record
      • Add local bibliographic fields, if desired
  • As a cataloger, I want to have the ability to temporarily “lock” records from editing by other users when I am editing that record in order to prevent duplication of effort. I also want record locks to expire after an agreed upon time limit so that no one record can be locked indefinitely.
  • As a cataloger, I want to have access to a save file that will hold records that I am editing and creating.  Ideally, there would be a personal or local save file for individual catalogers and an online save file where records could be seen and shared among catalogers at individual institutions.
  • As a cataloger, I want to have a way to create constant data workforms and share them for use among multiple catalogers.
  • As a cataloger, I want duplicate records within the database to be de-duplicated, either by an automated process or by catalogers that have been trained to identify and merge duplicate records, or a combination of both.
  • As a cataloger, I want to have the capability to insert clickable links for controlled access points within bibliographic records that will allow me to quickly see the authority record associated with the access point without having to do a search. (See Entity Management doc)
  • As a cataloger, I want to be able to easily add and delete/remove my institution’s holdings from bibliographic records in the database.
  • As a Cataloger I would want links to resources like HathiTrust and Google Books to be part of the completed record.
  • As a Cataloger I would want to make sure that original work or unique items were not merged or overridden with another record.
  • As a Cataloger I would want to ensure that local notes were retained in the institution’s record.
  • As a Cataloger I would want the catalog to accept different cataloging schemas (AACR1, Dublin Core, AACR2, RDA, BIBFRAME, etc.).
  • As a Cataloger I would want to make sure that all languages (including Cyrillic text) would be accepted and displayed.
Database Use
  • As a copy cataloger, I want a clean source of bibliographic records that I can copy.
  • As a cataloger, I want to be able to search for a bibliographic record across multiple (or all) libraries or sources quickly, identify the preferred record easily, and use or modify that record for my own purposes.
  • As a cataloger, I want to be able to see which libraries are the source of the record, so that I can sort by or limit to certain sources. 
  • As a cataloger, I want to be able to download sets of bibliographic records to load through Data Import.
  • As a cataloger, I want to be able to download individual records directly into Inventory.
  • As a cataloger, I want to be able to have a reference ID for each unique record.
  • As a cataloger, I want to be able to quickly sort a list of search results by date, title, creator, publisher, and language of cataloging. I also want to be able to quickly identify which records in a list of results are of a higher level of completeness or authentication.  
  • As a cataloger, I want to be able to easily see how many other institutions have holdings attached to a bibliographic record. 
Policy, Documentation and Permissions
  • As a cataloger, I want individual catalogers to have varying levels of permissions to edit master records based on the level of training they have completed.
  • As a cataloger, I want to be able to choose whether to make certain locally-cataloged or proprietary records available to other libraries using the service.
  • As a cataloger, I want to have online access to documentation detailing the agreed upon structure, coding, and input standards for bibliographic records in the database.

As a manager of consortial services...

  • As a manager of consortial services, I want to know that the bibliographic records available to my libraries to copy are open or otherwise legally free to modify and reuse.
  • As a manager of consortial services, I want the ability to enable catalogers to work across multiple institutions.
  • As a manager of consortial services, I want the ability to query records across the consortium for reporting or collaborative projects.
  • I want to have a tracking log of changes to each record including login information and time and date of changes.
  • I want the ability to roll back changes made to records.

As a library director/dean...

  • As a library director, I want a source of bibliographic copy cataloging records that will be robust enough that we no longer need to subscribe to another third party to find rare or unique records. The service will be complete enough that it will make more economic sense to catalog ourselves rather than subscribe to another service.
  • As a library director, I want to save the time of my staff in locating and enhancing records.
  • As a library director, I want a complete database on which to build comprehensive resource sharing networks for both print and digital content.
  • As a library director, I want smooth end user experience with search results from multiple points of access.

As an acquisitions technician...

  • As an acquisitions technician, I want to be able to download record sets that correspond to a particular shipment from a vendor and will overlay the corresponding short bibliographic records that were created when the items were ordered.

As a collection development librarian...

  • As a collection development librarian, I want to be able to identify libraries in my consortium, network, or state that own a particular item (for cooperative development or “last copy policy” reasons).
  • As a collection development librarian, I want to be able to add my institution or consortium shared print retention commitments.
  • As a collection development librarian, I want to be able to compare my holdings against other libraries’ [Note: a separate tool for this may be better, but it would be good to design this new system to ensure this is easy to do].

As a resource sharing librarian...

  • For a given title I want to be able to see which of my library consortium members has that title.

  • For a given serial I want to know the gaps in issues for a run of serials.

  • I want to control the number of days to deliver a request.

  • I want to communicate with the borrower or lender within the system.

  • I want a way to record information regarding the requests (staff notes).

  • I want to be able to transmit a digital copy of an article or book chapter.

  • I want to be able to lend via Controlled Digital Lending (CDL).

  • I want to be able to declare a borrowed item lost or missing.

  • I want request forms to be printable. 

As an authorities librarian...

  • I want to be notified of changes to authorities in my bibliographic records.
  • Have varying levels of access to change authority records.


The system will support authority records, and linking between authority records and matching data fields in bibliographic records. Matched fields in bibliographic records will be automatically updated by changes to authority records.

Consider entities management vision document.