Library services platform

Open source library services platform

Published on: 21/07/2020

FOLIO is an open source library services platform (LSP) providing core functionalities for library management systems and extensible features that help libraries to meet their users’ evolving needs. Since 2019, FOLIO has been successfully implemented in several institutions around the world.


Started in 2018, the FOLIO project is a partnership between libraries, developers and vendors that was established to develop an open source library services platform (LSP). Prominent libraries provide their expertise and knowledge as subject-matter experts; the developers rely on input from subject-matter experts and collaborate with user experience (UX) designers to create the FOLIO platform and associated apps; and the vendors contribute to the deployment of FOLIO and to the provision of support services.

The partner organisations are represented by the FOLIO Product Council, composed of members from partner libraries, which acts on their behalf to identify and assign priorities in the development of the FOLIO platform. A detailed roadmap with key milestones in the deployment of FOLIO is available on the project’s website.

FOLIO is an acronym for the project’s core idea: “the future of libraries is open”. The platform is built on the idea that library management software should be flexible, modular, extensible, and affordable. Following these principles, FOLIO is developed as a web-based system meant to administer complex workflows using modular apps. The design of the platform relies on four layers:

  • System layer: centralises the data storage through several technologies, such as SQL, to optimise performance;
  • OKAPI: the open source platform’s API gateway for managing communication between the system layer and the various apps. OKAPI’s code is available on GitHub under an Apache 2.0 License.
  • Language agnostic applications: these apps can be written in any programming language to plug to the OKAPI API. Libraries can select existing apps or develop new ones tailored to their needs.
  • User Interface: is available to libraries and it can either be implemented in its existing form or used as basis to create a customised version.

General features such as notifications, check in/check out of books, user requests and task management are available but the setup of the software is customised by the library itself through the choice of apps installed. The documentation and source code for FOLIO is available on GitHub under an Apache 2.0 License.

The Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden was the first organisation to deploy FOLIO as an early adopter in 2019. Since then, multiple organisations around the world have implemented the solution including the German National Library for Economics and the University of Leipzig.

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