Overview | Mission | Objectives | Principles | Scope | Open Governance


The Open Resource Sharing (OpenRS) project is an ecosystem consisting of the OpenRS software and the OpenRS Coalition. As a resource sharing software, OpenRS is built using a philosophy of open standards and native integration, prioritizing a heterogeneous resource sharing system that is ILS and Discovery agnostic while accommodating the full spectrum of mediated and unmediated resource sharing. OpenRS will be designed with a “consortia first” model, providing consortia with the workflows and tools needed to provide robust and extended functionality for consortial resource sharing, including seamless unmediated intra-consortial borrowing functionality as well as expanded sharing across multiple consortia. 

The open source OpenRS software is built and maintained by Knowledge Integration Ltd, with support from EBSCO Information Services. The copyright for OpenRS software is held by Knowledge Integration under an Apache 2.0 license. OpenRS employs best practices for containerization, making it possible to host OpenRS locally or via vendor-provided hosting services.

The direction of OpenRS software is guided by the OpenRS Coalition. The OpenRS Coalition brings together open source developers, vendors, and practitioners in the library community to create innovative solutions that enable libraries to work collectively to increase access to resources for patrons. The project’s charter is grounded in fostering resource sharing. That said, our interests extend to use-cases that cross traditional LMS boundaries where collaboration between libraries requires new operational models and software to become viable instruments of change. As a result, we anticipate broadening the scope of our charter as business needs see fit and as resources allow.

OpenRS is an Open Library Foundation (OLF) affiliated project which operates with an open, transparent approach, emphasizing the best practices for open source governance and DevSecOps. The OLF holds the trademark for OpenRS. 


The mission of the OpenRS Coalition is to provide community guidance to the open source OpenRS software for the successful fulfillment of the software project’s objectives.


Coalition Objectives
  1. Collaboration: Facilitate collaboration among libraries, open source developers and vendors to create new systems and solutions that enhance collective action and resource sharing among libraries.
  2. Broad umbrella: Build a coalition that recognizes and validates the different functionalities needed for mediated and unmediated resource sharing across academic, public, school, and special libraries as well as the consortia that support them. 
  3. Light-weight bureaucracy: Minimize the number of steps between generating ideas, reaching agreement, and taking action. Ensure that the number of committees, processes, and paperwork is enough to ensure the fostering of consensus without unnecessarily slowing activities and development or negatively impacting the quality of our output.
  4. Reward action: Ensure that a high level of decision-making authority rests with the individuals and organizations that contribute the most work toward the project.  
  5. Openness and transparency: Operate the project with transparency, openness, and inclusivity, encouraging active participation, information sharing, and community engagement throughout all stages of development and decision-making.
  6. Symbiosis: Recognize the interdependencies that exist between the entities within the ecosystem. Libraries/consortia, open source developers, and vendors rely on each other for mutual gain. Decisions and actions of the coalition should strive to elevate each entity without requiring undue sacrifice from another. 
Software Objectives
  1. Consortial Orientation: While individual libraries may be served by OpenRS, the use cases upon which OpenRS is built originate from both single-type and multi-type consortia. Development and functionality is primarily aimed at workflows that exist within and between consortia.  
  2. Promote Resource Sharing: Develop tools, protocols, and platforms that enable efficient resource and metadata sharing among libraries, allowing them to pool their collections and provide users with broader access to information and materials. OpenRS takes the position that different tools are appropriate to different scenarios, and that libraries in different scenarios will need to use different tools to collaborate. This generates a critical need for these tools to work in harmony and to create permeable boundaries between them. OpenRS is founded on making the most appropriate use of different open interfaces, standards and APIs to provide the best possible patron experience.
  3. User-Centric Approach: Ensure that all project initiatives and services prioritize meeting the needs of both patrons and other system users (library staff) effectively and efficiently, focusing on user-centered design principles and feedback-driven development. Where applicable, the coalition prioritizes the highest compliance with privacy, security, and accessibility standards.  
  4. Open Standards: Develop the software with an open standards approach, enabling seamless resource sharing among libraries, ensuring interoperability, ease of use, and efficient delivery of requested materials.
  5. Native Integration: The project recognizes the importance of efficiency and smoothness in high volume workflows and aims to work with, rather than supplant or work against, the features already present in any ILS that a library has chosen. Our goal is facilitating the connections between libraries, not replacing parts of their ILS. As a result the project focuses on creating heterogeneous resource sharing systems that are ILS and Discovery System agnostic, rather than a non-integrated homogenous system. The coalition notes that sometimes an ILS may not have the required features and OpenRS developers may need to provide stand-in components, but this should be the exception and not the rule.
  6. System agnostic design: Native integration is a standard applied to any ILS system a library or consortium might support, as well as relevant discovery systems.  
  7. Inter- and Intra-Consortial Borrowing: Provide robust intra-consortial borrowing functionality while also enabling consortia to expand resource sharing outside a single consortium.  Resource sharing via OpenRS can be performed via mediated or unmediated workflows for returnables and non-returnables, utilizing interoperable state models for direct consortial borrowing and ISO 18626 interlibrary loan.  OpenRS supports the delivery of both print and electronic materials with returnable and non-returnable workflows. OpenRS can also pass or receive requests outside of the OpenRS software, connecting if needed to other ILL systems. 
  8. Ease of deployment and maintenance: The containerized code base is configured for ease of deployment, maintenance, and upgrades by any developers or systems administrators. The software is equally viable as an SaaS-hosted service or locally hosted by libraries or consortia.


Coalition Principles
  • Trust: The cornerstone for this project, we prioritize extending trust to all entities engaged with the work of the OpenRS Coalition and OpenRS software. At its most basic level, this trust relies on the notion that all entities engaged with the project are putting their best effort and sincere intentions into shared work that supports the needs of all involved, whether they directly benefit in the short-term or not.
  • All for one and one for all: All entities in the Coalition work tirelessly to ensure that all involved are capable of success. Time and funding contributed to the OpenRS Coalition is used to the benefit of all entities, regardless of whether any individual entity benefits immediately from the contributions. Initial development of the direct consortial borrowing (DCB) functionality is funded contractually by EBSCO; additional funding needs will be determined in the future.
  • Transparency: Transparency not only means the open availability of information, but also recording information in clear and explicit language. Priorities, procedures, decisions, timelines, and other critical pieces of information are recorded in clear and explicit language in openly accessible documentation.
  • Realism: By striving for transparency on priorities, the OpenRS Coalition encourages others to join or become involved using clear shared expectations, ensuring that the project does not become “over promised.”
  • Welcoming attitude: We welcome libraries and consortia of all sizes and types by valuing the functional needs of libraries that are different from our own. New additions to the coalition should feel mentored and nurtured toward participation. We manage conflict in the coalition in the most intentional, productive, collegial, respectful, and results-oriented manner possible.
  • Agility: The OpenRS Coalition is able to move new ideas rapidly through a vetting process and consensus-building in order to ensure work is initiated and completed in a timely manner.
Software Principles
  • Everything is open (with an Apache open license).
  • The software is containerized so that it can be implemented by libraries of all sizes and types in a cost-effective manner, either with in-house expertise or via contracted services.
  • The software stack is always configured so that it uses industry standards to keep overhead maintenance costs, on-premise hardware, and/or cloud hosting costs manageable. 
  • Maintain capability integrity throughout all system components such that an entire component can be swapped in with new a components (i.e. LOCATE can be swapped out for any discovery service).


The OpenRS project will focus on the development and implementation of software systems, protocols, and best practices that foster collaboration and support various library services. The project will encompass the following key areas:

  1. Resource Sharing Systems: Design, develop, and implement open source software and standards that enable seamless resource sharing among libraries, ensuring interoperability, ease of use, and efficient delivery of requested materials. Our initial scope:

    a. The DCB component which will enable transparent consortium wide circulation as a model for resource sharing.

    b. An ISO18626 ILL model needed when resources cannot be sourced from the immediate network, or for unusual and rare materials which can only be obtained from special sources.

    c. Smooth interaction between the above for transitioning between use cases

    d. Support for a wide variety of discovery systems (e.g., Pika, VuFind, and Locate with others expected)
  2. User Experience and Interface Design: Emphasize user-centered design principles to create intuitive, accessible, and inclusive interfaces for library services, ensuring ease of use and personalized experiences for library patrons and staff.
  3. Sustainability and Environmental Impact: Explore strategies and technologies that promote sustainability within library systems, such as energy-efficient infrastructure, digitization initiatives, and environmentally responsible practices.

Open Governance

There are key elements of each of the six different types of open source governance models that are applicable to the OpenRS ecosystem. In recognition of the symbiotic nature of the relationship between libraries/consortia, open source developers, and vendors evident in OpenRS, the OpenRS Coalition leverages the best elements of each model in order to fulfill project objectives and principles.  

Because the copyright for the OpenRS software resides with Knowledge Integration. The OLF holds the trademark of OpenRS, along with domains, Jira and website assets, and any other assets under an MOU stipulating that the OpenRS retains ownership of these assets should the Coalition choose to become affiliated with a different open source foundation.

In order to meet the project objective of having a light-weight bureaucracy, the potential sprawl of committees associated with self-appointing or electoral governance models is counteracted by a strong commitment to the tenets of a “do-ocracy” governance model. Do-ocracies emphasize that “those who do the work make the decisions.” For OpenRS, project governance is centralized in a governing board elected from Contributing Partners. However, having a role as a Contributing Partner requires more than just financial commitments to the project. In order to participate in the OpenRS governing board, individuals representing Contributing Partners must personally demonstrate active commitment of time and effort to the project.

Finally, as an affiliate of the Open Library Foundation, OpenRS operates with elements of a “foundation-backed” governance model, helping to ensure that OpenRS maintains active communication with upstream and adjacent software under the OLF’s umbrella.