Initial Thoughts On Consortial Support


Hello, I’ve been to a few FOLIO events and am excited about the project. I am the consortial coordinator for the Western North Carolina Library Network where 3 academic state libraries have shared an Innovative Inc ILS system for the past 25 years. Over the past several years we have been feeling the pains an constraints of our aging system, so I’m hoping that FOLIO could shape up to be a great solution for us.

I’ve thought a bit about what might be the optimal way for FOLIO to work with consortia, and right now I’m thinking it would be more productive for a single server instance to only support a simple branch system such as for public libraries or separate colleges within a single campus, and not go so far as to support multiple financial institutions using a single server.

Rather I think in this age of virtual machines and cloud server platforms it would be more productive to develop a robust system for linking separate instances together which would allow for discovery layers to search multiple FOLIO databases at the same time, and also allow for seamless ILL between connected libraries and thier users.

I’d love to hear what other’s think? Perhaps I’m missing some logic here?



Hello, I am a technician from hbz in Germany. Much about the possible technical solutions for consortia support has already been discussed in the Consoria SIG (see Here in Germany we have the situation that many libraries share the same metadata (they use a Union Catalog for ILL). The libraries are otherwise independent and need separate administrative functions.They are also separate financial institutions. This cannot be solved in a simple branch system (although some single libraries may need a branch system). I agree that in the age of cloud solutions and considering that there are no licence fees for an open source system, a multi-instance solution is more effective to develop and maybe also to maintain. One does not need to develop things anew which can be solved in a multi-instance cloud based solution. But one has to keep in mind that the metadata records need to be shared, as in model #3 or #4 of the 2017/03/31 meeting notes.


Hi Ben,

A couple of thoughts. First of all, I completely agree that the emergence of separate discovery layers makes it much easier to provide services across multiple installations/instances of a system like FOLIO. On the other hand, we also think there are situations where using a single, multi-tenant installation (whether locally or in the cloud) provides good economy of scale. Folio has been architected to be fully multi-tenant, but at the same time, i would say that most/all of us involved are very keen to avoid ending up with a system where good consortial solutions can only be provided in a centralized environment, or even an environment where everyone runs the same system. Easy options for shared discovery and lots of fully open interfaces / standards for interoperability are key here. I think that we as a community have an opportunity over the long haul to push for higher expectations for interoperability and openness.

I’d actually encourage you to join the consortial SIG… we usually meet on Fridays – you will find the schedule in the wiki. It’s not a big group and I’d say at this point we’re still establishing goals and ambitions. I’d say your contribution would be welcome.

Cheers, --Sebastian


Thanks for the replies and information. I did indeed get on the SIG and attend last week’s call (though I don’t think I’ll make it this week).

This all makes a lot of sense. Our consortium too is set up to share bib data, though we have moved away form it with some ebooks, and I get the feeling that a move to a new ILS (like FOLIO) might push us to split bib data out for each library anyway.

I think I was trying to come up with a logic that was on the simple side rather than a “tall order” for FOLIO developers, such as “we want it to work both ways!” But now I see that the development path is already in motion in that direction, which is exciting.

Wouldn’t it be great if FOLIO could allow a discovery layer to easily search multiple FOLIO databases and seamlessly connect ILL systems, something that could rival WorldCat perhaps?