The challenge

FOLIO is a global community driven initiative to deliver open source library management applications, hosted by the Open Library Foundation. Libraries using the FOLIO platform choose a set of apps to include in their installation to support delivery of their unique combination of services. In 2017 GBV, the Common Library Network in Germany, asked us to build a suite of FOLIO Electronic Resource Management (ERM) apps. These tools would be used by librarians to manage the selection, acquisition, licensing, and retention of a library’s electronic journals, books and other resources. 

All apps we deliver must be fully integrated into the FOLIO framework, providing a seamless user experience for all. The working practices and needs of ERM librarians from around the globe must be considered and catered for and we, as digital-library professionals, must become active participants in the FOLIO community, contributing our expertise and ideas to the wider network of subject matter experts, analysts, developers and designers. 

The process

We put together an agile development team with a Product Owner, Scrum Master, UX Lead and team of developers (distributed around Europe and the USA). Weekly webinars are held to elicit and review requirements with 30-50 end users and stakeholders from around the globe. Feedback and ideas generated during each session are fed into the product backlog which is managed in Jira, along with the delivery process. This approach enables us to absorb and evaluate complex technical information and risks and communicate effectively with both technical and non-technical stakeholders. 

Testing is rigorous and comprehensive, involving a combination of manual and automated tasks:

  • Manual UAT against user stories and test plans
  • Accessibility testing in a specialised lab
  • Browser automation using Geb
  • Integration testing
  • Unit testing using BigTest

What we delivered

To date we have delivered four apps. Together they support decision making around renewals and purchases, and help librarians keep track of which e-resources their institution is entitled to offer its patrons. Any Terms of Use and contracts with providers are recorded in the Licenses app and linked to an agreement. Agreements lie at the heart of FOLIO ERM. Each one connects packages of e-resources with orders and licenses to provide a narrative around the subscriptions held with publishers and other providers. Our ERM comparison app enables librarians to compare and report on the contents of agreements and packages. The e-resource records themselves are administered using the Local KB admin app and sourced from the community run GOKb, or other external knowledgebase.

The apps integrate to support complex, interactive workflows and each can be customised by teams and institutions to provide a personalised experience. They work across an array of screen sizes and devices and are built against internationalisation principles, which means they support any written language.

We continue to develop and deliver new features for GBV’s ERM roadmap, working with the GBV network of libraries, Owen Stephens, Jag Goraya and all the other talented professionals forming the FOLIO community. If you are interested in using FOLIO ERM or would just like to know more about the project please get in touch.

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