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The Durban University of Technology (DUT) Library is the first university library in Africa to successfully launch FOLIO, a modern and open-source Library Services Platform (LSP) to create a more efficient library workflow for the DUT Community. Besides being the name for the software, ‘FOLIO’ is an acronym standing for ‘the Future of Libraries Is Open.’ The FOLIO launch was held at the Curries Fountain Sports Development Centre in Durban.

The implementation was conducted and executed by the local service partner Universal Knowledge Software (UKS) and EBSCO Information Services. EBSCO is a leading provider of research databases, e-journals, magazine subscriptions, eBooks and discovery services for academic libraries, and will continue to provide infrastructure, integration and hosting services for the University with EBSCO FOLIO.

Welcoming the distinguished guests, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor: Teaching and Learning at DUT, Professor Nokuthula Sibiya said it was an honour for her to address this notable DUT Library FOLIO system launch. “I wish to thank the University Library Services and system partners for hosting this important event, an occasion to launch the new library system called the Future of Libraries is Open known as FOLIO. With exciting developments like this, I am firmly tempted to believe that indeed the future of DUT Library is open, with open source software and open access being part of the library DNA. On behalf of the Durban University of Technology Vice-Chancellor, Prof Thandwa Mthembu and the Executive Management, I extend a warm welcome to all of you. Colleagues and invited guests it is more than just easy said than done, we are really about open source and open access for and by our libraries and University community at large,” said Prof Sibiya.

She added that the adoption and application of open source software have always been part of service development, management and provision for the university library. “These kinds of initiatives are well aligned to the DUT strategy known as the ENVISION2030. One of the objectives of our ENVISION2030 is digital environment, so with our digital transformation objective, we are at the heart of transforming our systems and processes. It is therefore no wonder that today after so many months of the implementation processes, we are launching FOLIO library integrated systems, which is truly a modern open source service platform. FOLIO is developed by libraries, developers and vendors who collaborate across the globe to reimagine the current generations of library administration systems for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR),” explained Prof Sibiya.

“The University is indeed elated to have worked in close partnership to our University library systems partners, UKS and EBSCO information services to deliver on what is a truly open integrated library system, a community driven system development initiative for libraries. We look forward to building on their fruitful partnership for many years to come.”

She ended her speech by sharing her famous quote by athletic coach, Vince Lombardi “There is only one way to succeed in anything, that is to give it everything.” She advised the DUT Library team to give it everything, saying the team will make things right by taking the library services to the greatest heights. Borrowing from Jim Collins, Prof Sibiya said “it is not people who will make things right but the right people in their right seats playing their right roles.”

“DUT strategy is called ENVISION2030, and we focus on four areas, Stewardship, Systems and Processes, Sustainability and Society. As a University, we are an engaged University, we aspire to make sure that by 2030 we are really embedded within our region, country and the continent, also on the globe itself. Stewardship for us means that we really push the value systems that we hold so dearly and encourage a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship. Part of this launch just shows we are always looking outside and as well as inside to see what else we can do to improve on what we are doing and how best we can engage”, said Professor Sibusiso Moyo: DUT Deputy Vice-Chancellor Research, Innovation and Engagement.

Prof Moyo further explained that excellent innovations and successful enterprises can only come out of authentic things that DUT does and ensuring that they embark on ventures with integrity while committing to excellency. “To this end the Library has helped us to a great extent to achieve our world university rankings through the Times Higher Education by providing digital tools services and collaboration platforms, we are able to compete with the best in the world,” added Prof Moyo.

Chief Information Officer at DUT, Dr Progress Mtshali spoke on DUT’s Digitilisation Strategy, looking at what DUT is doing to transform the University given the fact that the digital age is upon them. “We are moving away from how we used to do things in an analogue way to a digital way. Looking at the Three Amigos, Digitisation, Digitalisation and Digital Transformation, the University is undergoing all of them. Digitisation is the conversion of analogue to digital, Digitalisation looks at processes that were done in a manual format now using a digital process. Digital Transformation would be on a business side, how do we change culture, how we were doing things before,” said Dr Mtshali. Discussing Library Projects, Dr Mtshali said they consist of the self service facilities, virtual library assistant and access control systems that will provide a better way of workflow and better security. He further added, that with FOLIO’s open platform, the library will be able to integrate easily with other university systems.

Speaking about his involvement in the project, EBSCO’s Richard Burkitt, the Director of Innovation said it’s wonderful that they can say DUT is one of the very first to move to FOLIO. “One of the great things in working in these partnerships, DUT, UKS and EBSCO is that if we can all understand the needs and requirements to alleviate DUT then there is no reason why a software cannot be used in DUT and elsewhere within Sub-Saharan Africa and of course elsewhere in the world. DUT you are special, you were the very first FOLIO site in Africa. DUT is the first FOLIO implemented by a partner outside of North America. It has been an exciting development, DUT you are leading the way in future library vision,” added Burkitt.

DUT Library’s FOLIO Project Manager, Sagren Moodley provided context for the choosing of FOLIO by sharing some of the significant technology milestones of the Library, including the multiple open source software-based systems that are deployed in the library. He highlighted that the move to FOLIO was part of the evolution of the DUT library systems – “we were looking for a new library system, and FOLIO ticked all the boxes”.

Commenting on the project timelines, he said that “the project had short timelines, but he was confident that the project would be completed timeously – this was due to the expert technical skills and knowledge of our partners and the library staff – EBSCO in handling the FOLIO cloud installation, UKS for data migration and training of library staff in the different FOLIO modules, and DUT Library staff who knew library systems well and had experience in implementing open source systems. He said the DUT community can be assured that with FOLIO and newly implemented EBSCO Discovery Services (EDS), our new discovery tool, they have access to one of the most advanced systems that will improve their discovery of print and electronic material, including DUT research and open access resources.

Pictured: DUT Library team and its system partners at the FOLIO launch.

Simangele Zuma

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