PALNI and PALCI continue to remove barriers to Hyku adoption with IMLS grant

Midway through funding period, project organizers have completed UX research and major system upgrade, with the Consortial Institutional Repository Toolkit in production

The Private Academic Library Network of Indiana (PALNI) and The Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation (PALCI) are midway through a 2-year, $248,050 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to support Hyku for Consortia: Removing Barriers to Adoption. With this award, granted in 2021 as part of the National Leadership Grants for Libraries Program, the partners are increasing the flexibility, accessibility, and usability of Hyku, the multi-tenant repository platform system.  

Why Institutional Repositories?

Repositories are a critical piece of library infrastructure, enabling access to many types of digital materials created by an institution’s students, faculty, staff, and researchers. Libraries, cultural heritage institutions, and other organizations also use repositories to provide access to digitized special collections.

In the face of continued budgetary pressures, libraries seek cost-saving approaches to their work. Due to costs or other constraints, those unable to deploy Institutional Repository (IR) services are increasingly looking to consortia to serve this role. This project specifically advances Hyku to support the repository needs of library groups by increasing affordability and flexibility in a scalable, multi-tenant environment.

“This grant has provided the foundation for PALNI and PALCI to apply open source software, new business models, and collaboration to remove barriers to widespread adoption of repository software,” says Kirsten Leonard, Executive Director for PALNI. “Thanks to this award and the critical feedback provided by our pilot participants—including those from partnering consortia VIVA and LOUIS—we have made progress in building and sustaining an open, community-led repository service that has the potential to impact thousands of libraries. We leverage the advances in the Samvera open source community and contribute our advances back to the community through our developer, Software Services by”

“We place a high value on the opportunities for innovation, collaboration, cost savings, and agency that come from community-owned infrastructure and solutions like Hyku,” says Jill Morris, PALCI Executive Director. “It frees us to define scaled solutions in ways that proprietary software and fully outsourced solutions can’t. The Hyku community is active and vibrant, allowing us to partner and take advantage of momentum happening in other projects. It also puts libraries back in the driver’s seat as they make technology choices about how and where to store, discover, integrate, and access their digital assets and materials.”

The first year of the project culminated with PALNI and PALCI making significant progress on their initial goals to:

  • Produce a comprehensive gap assessment for Hyku, focusing on the barriers to adoption.
  • Complete user-focused development sprints tightly scoped around high-priority features of the system.
  • Create a toolkit to share with other library groups considering collaborating on a repository.

Engaging the User Community

The partners completed extensive user experience (UX) research with UX firm Samhaeng. Pilot participants identified barriers and had a central role in defining, reviewing, prioritizing, and approving the features of the Hyku service that are being developed. 

“Engaging with the Hyku Commons community is key to achieving the major goals for Hyku for Consortia,” says Amanda Hurford, PALNI Scholarly Communications Director. “Together, the ‘PALs’ have built a user community to identify gaps in Hyku, deduplicate work, and encourage sharing of solutions across institutions.”

That community includes pilot participants from two other major consortia, VIVA and LOUIS, bringing the total number of Hyku Commons tenants across all four partnering consortia to 50. The UX research report, combined with user satisfaction surveys, is the basis of the project’s gap assessment report, which informs development decisions by directly addressing the needs articulated by these stakeholders. 

“The support and responsiveness of the grant team to VIVA member pilot institutions has made the Hyku for Consortia project a joy to work on,” says Genya O’Gara, Acting VIVA Director. “VIVA has already gained a deeper understanding of the breadth of needs across the consortium and what future functionality would allow for a broader range of institutional engagement. With the recent release of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) advancing open repository principles, this work couldn’t be more timely—it is more critical than ever that we support the development of open repository solutions that are community-led, scalable, and sustainable for a wide range of academic library types.”

“The Hyku for Consortia project team’s community-building efforts around Hyku have been especially beneficial for LOUIS pilot members as they’ve tested the platform,” says Laurie Blandino, Associate Commissioner and Executive Director for LOUIS. “Monthly meetings to go over product developments and updates, as well as open discussions about repository practices and policy development, have enabled LOUIS’s member institutions to learn and share best practices with a wide range of academic libraries. The development of local collections of faculty and student works helps our members demonstrate their value to higher education in accordance with LOUIS’s strategic plan. It is essential to the development of such repositories that affordable, user-friendly platforms with robust support are available to meet the vastly different needs of our member institutions. The Hyku for Consortia project is a welcome addition to the institutional repository landscape.”

User-Driven Enhancements

In addition to completing initial UX research, project organizers recently concluded a major system upgrade from Hyku 2.1 to Hyku 4.1. Launched in November, the upgrade includes improvements to analytics, featured collections and cross-site search functionality, and an enhanced index and homepage. Other previous developments include improvements to bulk import and export workflows, an area defined as a high priority by users. Developments were completed in partnership with Software Services by (SoftServ), an open-source software development firm and long-time contributor to the Hyku project. 

“This upgrade has brought in many desired enhancements, especially in areas where users noted room for improvement, such as reporting analytics, as well as many ‘quality of life’ improvements for repository administrators,” says Nic Stanton-Roark, PALNI’s Institutional Repository Project Coordinator and Archivist at Anderson University. “We look forward to our continued work addressing gaps identified by our user community. We expect metadata flexibility to be the next area for development post-upgrade, as suggested by the first satisfaction survey and UX report.”

The project’s next phases include continued UX research and data collection to identify and assign priority to other gaps in functionality, especially those that present a barrier to Hyku adoption. Emphasizing the goal to help other consortia and library groups stand up a Hyku instance, the partners are creating a Consortial Institutional Repository Toolkit that will provide guidelines, documentation, and other materials to support the development of similar collaborative repository services.

For more project information, news and updates, visit the Hyku for Consortia website.

About the Institute of Museum and Library Service

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s libraries and museums. We advance, support, and empower America’s museums, libraries, and related organizations through grantmaking, research, and policy development. Our vision is a nation where museums and libraries work together to transform the lives of individuals and communities. To learn more, visit and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

About the Private Academic Library Network of Indiana, Inc. (PALNI)

PALNI is a non-profit organization supporting collaboration for library and information services to the libraries of its twenty-three supported institutions. Over time, the library deans and directors who sit on the PALNI board have adjusted the organization’s strategic direction as the internet and information services landscape has changed. PALNI has expanded beyond providing a resource management system to sharing expertise in many areas, including strategic planning, reference, information flue, outreach, data management, and configuration, and has identified greater collaboration in acquisitions as a key goal.

About The Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation (PALCI)

The PALCI organization was originally founded as the ‘Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc.,” and was formed in 1996 as a grassroots federation of 35 academic libraries in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Today, PALCI is known as Partnership for Academic Library Collaboration & Innovation, with membership consisting of 74 academic and research libraries, in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, West Virginia, and New York. PALCI’s mission is to enable cost-effective and sustainable access to information resources and services for academic libraries in Pennsylvania and surrounding states. PALCI Members serve over 800,000 students, faculty, and staff at member institutions, through a variety of programs, including the highly-regarded EZBorrow resource sharing service. PALCI also serves as the home for the Affordable Learning PA program, creating a community of practice for open textbooks and related educational resources.

About LOUIS: The Louisiana Library Network

LOUIS is a consortium of public and private college and university libraries in the state of Louisiana. This partnership was formed in 1992 by the library deans and directors at these institutions, in order to create a cost-effective collaboration among the institutions for the procurement of library technology and resources. We are currently forty-seven members strong.

About VIVA

VIVA is the academic library consortium serving 71 nonprofit higher education institutions in Virginia, including 39 state assisted colleges and universities, 31 independent private, nonprofit institutions, and The Library of Virginia. VIVA’s mission is to provide, in an equitable, cooperative, and cost‐effective manner, enhanced access to library and information resources for Virginia’s academic libraries serving the nonprofit higher education community.

About’s mission is to empower and connect scientists worldwide. By transforming the way scientific research is performed, our Science as a Service® platform accelerates discoveries that cure disease, address climate change and help secure global food and energy supplies. We combine sophisticated AI technology with white-glove Research Concierge® support to enable researchers to run more innovative experiments faster and cheaper. acquired Notch8, a San Diego-based company offering application and software development services, in 2022. The acquisition of the company—now called Software Services (SoftServ)—enabled to begin offering web services—such as web and mobile application development, code audits, framework upgrades, deployment optimization and monitoring and support—to its existing global network of researchers and service providers.

Q&A with Fr. Harry Hagan: A perspective on open textbook creation

Fr. Harry Hagan, OSB, SSD, is Associate Professor of Scripture at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. As a faculty member at a PALNI supported institution, Fr. Harry has produced three open textbooks that are free and available to scholars worldwide through the PALNI Pressbooks publishing platform. Here, he shares his experience in teaching and creating open educational resources (OER).

Please share the titles of the open textbooks you have produced.

  1. Elements of Biblical Poetry: An Introduction to Its Craft, Language, and Genres
  2. Elements of Biblical Narrative: A Brief Introduction with an Analysis of the Red Sea Story
  3. Mighty in Battle: A Literary Study of Battle Narrative in the Ancient Near East and in the Bible

Please tell us more about your current role and the courses you teach.

I am Associate Professor of Scripture at Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology. I teach the following courses:

  • Biblical Narrative: Pentateuch and Historical Books
  • Biblical Narrative: Prophets and Wisdom
  • Psalms
  • Covenant
  • Story in the Deuteronomistic History
  • Hebrew, Greek, and Latin Languages

I also write texts for hymns and have published over 40 hymns. I have studied poetry and also written it.

What encouraged you to produce open textbooks for your courses?

I had written Elements of Biblical Narrative during COVID-19 to replace an introduction to narrative in English literature that I had been using. Originally written as a journal article, it became too long to publish there, and the opportunity arose to publish it with PALNI. That seemed like a great solution.

During my sabbatical in the spring of 2022, I rewrote a piece that I had given to students for many years and turned it into Elements of Biblical Poetry.

Mighty in Battle is part of my dissertation. PALNI offered me an easy way to make that available to a larger audience.

Why did you choose to publish these particular open textbooks?

Elements of Biblical Narrative was written specifically for my course on Pentateuch and Historical Books of the Old Testament/Hebrew Bible. There are existing introductions, but they use examples from many different stories. This book focuses mainly on the Red Sea Story (Exodus 13:17-14:31) for its examples. This is arguably the most important story in the Hebrew Bible, and so students are focusing on an important text as they explore how narrative works in the Bible.

Elements of Biblical Poetry is a revision of a document that I have used for many years in courses on prophets, psalms, and wisdom literature. It explores the ways in which biblical poetry works rather than the specific context of those books. It covers craft, language, and genres of this poetry. In some ways it is very similar to poetry in other languages, but its use of similar and sequential parallel lines gives it a different feel.

How have the textbooks been received by students?

I have received positive feedback from the students. They are used to working with online and downloadable documents, and so these are just another accessible piece for them.

What are the biggest benefits to using OER versus traditional textbooks?

They are easily accessible and come without cost. You can’t lose them, but you don’t have to haul them around. They are there for future reference, and students can also use these books later with their own students.

What has your experience publishing open textbooks been like?

It was easy to put the books on the Pressbooks platform. Grammarly functions as the editor alerting you to the problems of proofreading. You have access to the document day and night, and you have lots of control. My institution was able to help with the design of the cover.

In what ways did your library support you in the process?

The director of the library, Dr. Daniel Kolb, made me aware of the possibility, and he has been very supportive throughout the process.

Is there anything about the process that has surprised you, or benefited you or your students in unexpected ways?

You can easily put a piece of the book on a screen in a classroom for a discussion.

What is one piece of advice you would give other faculty looking to publish their own open textbook?

Don’t wait.

Would you consider publishing more open textbooks in the future? Why or why not?

I am presently putting a translation online that courses in medieval history have students read. Today, publishers must ask how they are going to get their money out of a publication before they commit to publishing a book. Thanks to PALNI, those questions do not need to control the process. 

To learn more about PALNI open publishing, visit the PALNI Press website.

DePauw University’s Prindle Institute for Ethics announces publication of open access electronic books

DePauw University Libraries are pleased to announce the publication of four open access electronic books from the Prindle Institute for Ethics. 

Available through the PALNI Press, the Prindle Post Education Edition is designed to help high school and undergraduate students, and their teachers, examine some of the most complicated moral questions of today. Each book is focused on a certain topic—COVID-19, Journalism, Climate Change, and Democracy—and includes discussion and activity support for teaching and learning ethics in the classroom.

Victoria Peters, Scholarly Communication and Resource Services Librarian at DePauw, worked to publish the texts using the PALNI Pressbooks platform, an open source book authoring and editing tool offered to PALNI-supported institutions. 

“Making these resources open access through PALNI Press was a no-brainer when the Prindle Institute notified DePauw faculty that they could request a physical copy of these texts for free,” says Peters. “Now these educational resources are available to a much wider audience and can impact students around the world. I was excited to work on my first Pressbooks project and further the DePauw Libraries’ collaboration with Prindle.”

“The Prindle Institute for Ethics is dedicated to making ethics education materials and topics for fruitful dialogue accessible to as wide a community as possible,” says Christiane Wisehart, Associate Director of Content Strategy for the institute. “Our partnership with Victoria Peters allows us to increase access to these materials while also providing a secure, archival digital home for ephemeral print materials. We’re so grateful to Victoria and the PALNI community for providing us this wonderful outlet for our work.”

The Prindle Institute regularly produces print editions containing favorite articles from The Prindle Post, a digital publication of public philosophy dedicated to examining the significant ethical issues raised by current events and present in culture. Topics range from health care and bioethics, to politics, business, the environment, and more. 

To learn more about the Prindle Institute for Ethics, visit them online. To access the free and open Prindle Post Education Edition eBooks, visit the PALNI Press.