University of Rochester

New Grant to Improve Online Access to University Library Collections

October 25, 2007

Libraries will soon be able to offer their patrons quicker and easier access to collections with use of new software being developed at the University of Rochester.

A $749,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the University's River Campus Libraries will be used toward building and deploying the eXtensible Catalog (XC), a set of open-source software applications libraries can use to share their collections. The grant money will also be used to support broad adoption of the software by the library community. The grant and additional funding from the University and partner institutions makes up the $2.8 million needed for the project. The resulting system will allow libraries to simplify user access to all library resources, both digital and non-digital. This is the second grant awarded to the University by the Mellon Foundation for XC development.

Ronald F. Dow, the Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, said the system will provide library patrons with a richer experience when accessing the libraries' collections by offering them a variety of tools. Users will be able to navigate search results, and add user tags and reviews to documents, among other things. Dow said he is "very proud" of the library staff members who created the grant proposal.

"I am extremely pleased that the Mellon Foundation, by funding this proposal, has . . . awarded the library an opportunity to bring these ideas to fruition," Dow said. The system will also enhance libraries' management of their materials.

It will provide a platform for local development and experimentation that will ultimately allow libraries to share their collections through a variety of applications, such as Web sites, institutional repositories, and content management systems.

University of Rochester staff will build XC in partnership with the following institutions: Notre Dame University, CARLI (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois), Rochester Institute of Technology, Oregon State University, the Georgia PINES Consortium, Cornell University, the University at Buffalo, Ohio State University, and Yale University. Each XC partner institution has committed staff time or monetary contributions toward the development of XC.

A second group of institutions will contribute to the project through the participation of its staff members in XC-user research, or by providing advisory support to the University's development team. These institutions include the Library of Congress, OCLC, Inc., North Carolina State University, Darien (CT) Public Library, Ohio State University, and Yale University.

At the University of Rochester Dow is leading the project, along with David Lindahl, director of digital initiatives; Jennifer Bowen, director of catalog and metadata management; and Nancy Fried Foster, lead anthropologist for the libraries.

More information about the eXtensible Catalog project is available at