The Library of Congress awarded Ebsco Information Services a contract to implement an open-source IT platform that it said will revolutionize how its vast physical and digital collections are managed and made accessible for the public, Congress, government employees and other institutions.

The first phase of the platform’s development will cost $10.4 million over three years to meet the scale and complexity of the Library’s operations, with options to invest in additional components that could be developed by other vendors and may extend beyond the contract timeframe, the Library said in a statement.

The Library Collections Access Platform software application will serve as the heart of collections management, connecting stand-alone IT systems into a one-stop shop for the acquisition, description, inventory and discovery. Ebsco, of Ipswich, Massachusetts, will tailor FOLIO, a community-developed open-source software, to provide an IT platform that meets the needs of the Library and its users, it said.

“This is a milestone in our journey to implement a user-centered approach to connecting more people to the Library’s collections,” said Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden, in the statement. “We are grateful for Congress’ generous investment in this next-generation system that is essential to the Library’s digital-forward strategy, which harnesses technology to bridge geographical divides, expand our reach and enhance our services.”

The platform will replace several legacy IT systems and provide Library staff with new, more efficient tools and workflows to manage continuously growing physical and digital collections at scale. It will offer researchers a streamlined discovery experience and new ways to access high quality metadata, and will enable the use of BIBFRAME, a bibliographic description standard being developed with partner organizations that uses a linked data model to make information more useful both within and outside the library community.

When the platform is fully operational, it will enable users to perform comprehensive searches of the extensive collections of the library, it said. The system will have more advanced IT security controls and will accommodate evolving technology and growing digital content.

“The Library of Congress has long played a pivotal role in developing open formats and standards for the library community,” said Kate Zwaard, associate librarian for discovery and preservation services, in the statement. “An open-source solution that supports linked open data will have benefits beyond just the Library’s workforce and users, supporting other institutions nationwide.”

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The Library of Congress was founded in 1800, making it the oldest federal cultural institution in the U.S. On August 24, 1814, British troops burned the Capitol building where the Library was housed at the time and destroyed its core collection of 3,000 volumes. On January 30, 1815, Congress approved the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s personal library of 6,487 books for $23,950 to start rebuilding is collection. The Library moved into its own building across the street from the Capitol in 1897.

Today, the Library of Congress is the largest library in the world with more than 173 million items, including tweets.

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