Community Owned Infrastructure: Partnerships & Collaboration

Virtual Conference


Infrastructure -- from transportation systems to information platforms -- is inevitably costly to build and maintain. It entails ongoing investment and long-term technical support. How can we ensure that community-owned information infrastructure is successfully managed? Who are the stakeholders and how do you balance the needs of different groups? What represents the minimum viable product, and what does it take to make it a reality? ? Who is funding the infrastructure and is there a plan for long-term sustainability? What are successful examples of community-owned platforms, and how confident are we that they will be sustained over the long term? We’ll hear from those who provide, fund, and use our community-owned infrastructure about what’s working, what isn’t, and how best to ensure its long-term success.

Confirmed speakers for this event include: Laurie Arp, and Megan Forbes, both of LYRASIS; Helena Cousijn, DataCite; Bohyun Kim, University of Rhode Island; Boaz Nadav-Manes, Lehigh University; Ann West, Internet2, and Ralph Youngen, American Chemical Society. 

Event Sessions

12:00 Noon - 12:15pm Welcome


12:15pm - 12:45pm Foundations


When infrastructure works as expected, people often do not consider the characteristics of the infrastructure they use. However, infrastructure is a key piece of the research ecosystem and deserves recognition. In this talk, I will be discussing the value of community infrastructure. Open, community-owned research infrastructure provides the building blocks of scientific progress, which must be available to everyone, with no barriers to access. Organizations enabling open research infrastructure often have specific characteristics, in that they strive for equity, providing value, inspiring trust, enabling interoperability, and establishing community governance. It is also important to consider that open and free are separate things, and that communities need to consider the right sustainability models for important pieces of infrastructure. Finding ways to invite co‐creation and collaboration engenders a strong sense of community and is therefore essential to developing successful research infrastructure.


Wiley Online Library: Why openness makes research infrastructure resilient

12:45 - 1:15 Sustainability


Laurie Arp

Director of DuraSpace Community Supported Software

Why do some open-source software programs seem more successful than others? Why do some live on grants while others  achieve community sustainability? What can we learn from other programs? In 2017, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) provided grant funding to LYRASIS for the It Takes a Village project, designed to assess how open-source software programs serving cultural and scientific heritage organizations attain long-term sustainability. The project assumed that while there is no single approach to sustainability, there may be common threads among programs that would lead to common needs and strategies for meeting those needs.

The core output of the 2017 project was a Guidebook designed to serve as a practical reference source for OSS communities, ensuring that commitment and resources will be available at levels sufficient for the software they steward to remain viable and effective as long as it is needed.

In 2020, IMLS funded a new phase of It Takes a Village work, ITAV In Practice, which will create and pilot an adaptable set of tools for practical use in planning and managing sustainability. The project will strengthen the ability of libraries, archives, and museums to sustain community supported OSS programs, which are critical to managing and growing local and national digital infrastructures.

This session will provide an overview of the It Takes a Village framework, the overall themes that have emerged from our work, and provide an update on the ongoing ITAV in Practice work.


​IMLS Grant "It Takes A Village" - Open Source Software Models of Collaboration & Sustainability

1:15 - 1:45 Practical Considerations


Bohyun Kim

Chief Technology Officer and Associate Professor
University of Rhode Island Libraries

Open source systems and tools were introduced to libraries over two decades ago. Open source software is often pitched to libraries as a cost-saving measure. But the intent and the goal of the open source movement goes far beyond simply providing free software. Open source software can offer an alternative to vendor lock-in and allow libraries an active role in improving and customizing the software product. Also, at a higher level, the open source movement and libraries share a commitment to user-centered design. When an open source project is discontinued due to the lack of funding and support from the library community, the library community loses not only an alternative design and a feature set but also a vision that the project enabled for the community. Open source systems and tools afford libraries the opportunity to directly impact and shape their future evolution in ways that closely reflect libraries’ interests and future vision on open scholarship and open knowledge. In order to fully support and sustain the practice of open scholarship, libraries must invest in the critical components of the open scholarly and research environment and ensure them to grow and prosper. This presentation will discuss the benefits of open source vs proprietary systems, related integration and interoperability concerns, and other practical considerations for libraries in adopting, implementing, contributing to, and sustaining open source systems.


About IOI


1:45 - 2:15 Break for lunch, other work tasks

2:15 - 2:45 Small Group Discussion

2:45 - 3:30 Two Case Studies


Ralph Youngen

Senior Director of Digital Strategy
American Chemical Society (ACS)

Ralph Youngen:

Throughout the 2000s decade, online scholarly content rapidly displaced the centuries-long tradition of disseminating research results via printed materials.  During this timeframe, scholarly publishers and academic institutions adopted the practice of inspecting a user’s IP address as the means of authorizing access to online scholarly content.  After all, in the year 2000 if you were accessing the Internet, you were almost certainly using a computer physically plugged into your campus network.  During the next decade, rapid adoption of wireless networking and mobile devices caused a dramatic shift in the consumption of online scholarly works.  When the campus network was no longer the de facto location for Internet access, university patrons experienced significant challenges in attempting to access online scholarly resources from off-campus locations.

In 2015, Roger Schonfeld from Ithaka S+R illuminated the difficulties researchers were facing with accessing scholarly resources.  Roger’s presentation during a conference of the International Association of STM Publishers in late 2015 has been largely credited as the catalyst that spurred the scholarly publishing community into collective action to address these challenges.  This collective action initially took the form of the RA21 Initiative, co-sponsored by NISO and STM, to explore alternative means for authorizing access to online scholarly resources beyond IP address recognition.  The recommendations formalized by RA21 are now being operationalized via two separate instances of community-owned infrastructure – SeamlessAccess and GetFTR.

Ralph Youngen has been centrally involved in the leadership of both SeamlessAccess and GetFTR.   In this presentation, Ralph will describe the benefits and challenges of working across organizational boundaries, highlighting how each initiative approached community-based implementation, funding, governance, and legal matters.

Boaz Nadav-Manes

Lehigh University Library is a powerhouse of open-source systems development. It has gone fully live with FOLIO in August of last year; it is an institutional founder of Project ReShare; a user of Islandora and VuFind; and an active explorer of the SimplyE platform. The library has cultivated a risk-taking profile and culture and enjoys partnering with like-minded organizations to create innovative and sustainable ecosystems that question the status-quo and imagine new ways to make library intellectual work central to the university and the communities it belongs to.  

Building on a long tradition of automation and utilization of staff's technical expertise, the Lehigh libraries have taken part in the 2008 Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, submitted by the Duke University Libraries to "lead a community-driven process to produce a design document for an Open Library Management System built on Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)." The proposal called for a multi-national team to "design a next-generation library system that breaks away from print-based workflows, reflects the changing nature of library materials and new approaches to scholarly work, integrates well with other enterprise systems, and can be easily modified to suit the needs of different institutions." The design document was intended to be a "blueprint to inform open-source library system development efforts, to guide future library system implementations, and to influence commercial Integrated Library System (ILS) protocols."  

Twelve years later, these words resonate more than ever. Together with new partners, Lehigh Libraries continue to take a leadership role in the FOLIO governance and actively participate in the product development's full lifecycle.  

In this case study, Boaz Nadav Manes (Lehigh's University Librarian) will share updates and thoughts about Lehigh's continued involvement in the FOLIO project and the library staff's pivotal roles in shaping the system development.  He will outline the FOLIO implementation experience and discuss the opportunities, challenges, and potential to improve overall library operational efficiencies and effectiveness made possible through open-source and standards-based library platforms.


3:30 - 4:00 Vision Interview with Ann West


Ann West

Associate Vice President, Trust and Identity

Additional Information

NISO assumes organizations register as a group. The model assumes that an unlimited number of staff will be watching the live broadcast in a single location, but also includes access to an archived recording of the event for those who may have timing conflicts. 

NISO understands that, during the current pandemic, staff at a number of organizations may be practicing safe social distancing or working remotely. To accommodate those workers, we are allowing registrants to share the sign-on instructions with all colleagues so that they may join the broadcast directly, irrespective of their geographical location. 

Registrants receive sign-on instructions via email on the Friday prior to the virtual event. If you have not received your instructions by the day before an event, please contact NISO headquarters for assistance via email ( 

Registrants for an event may cancel participation and receive a refund (less $35.00) if the notice of cancellation is received at NISO HQ ( one full week prior to the event date. If received less than 7 days before, no refund will be provided. 

Links to the archived recording of the broadcast are distributed to registrants 24-48 hours following the close of the live event. Access to that recording is intended for internal use of fellow staff at the registrant’s organization or institution. Speaker presentations are posted to the NISO event page.

Broadcast Platform

NISO uses the Zoom platform for purposes of broadcasting our live events. Zoom provides apps for a variety of computing devices (tablets, laptops, etc.) To view the broadcast, you will need a device that supports the Zoom app. Attendees may also choose to listen just to audio on their phones. Sign-on credentials include the necessary dial-in numbers, if that is your preference. Once notified of their availability, recordings may be downloaded from the Zoom platform to your machine for local viewing.