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The VuFind implementation at Villanova University

John Houser (PALINET, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)

Library Hi Tech

ISSN: 0737-8831

Article publication date: 6 March 2009




This case study seeks to document the experiences of Villanova University's Falvey Library staff as they developed and implemented the VuFind open source discovery tool for libraries. It aims to address the decision to hire a programmer for the library, the decision to make the VuFind software open source, and the library's development and implementation processes.


The author interviewed, recorded, and corresponded with members of the library staff on multiple occasions over a five‐month period during the ramp‐up to, and just after, the launch of the new software. The paper is complemented by three podcasts created from the interview material that are available online.


The creators of VuFind took a relatively informal approach to library software development. However, the resulting software has been well received, both by the library development community and Villanova University. Keys to this success were close attention to user expectations deriving from their experiences using widely available web‐based search tools and applications, a continuous process of sharing work and soliciting input, and rapid improvements to the software. The open source development process facilitated the sharing and collaboration that made this rapid improvement possible.

Practical implications

Other libraries that are considering the possibility of developing their own software may find Villanova's experience and approach useful in determining where to focus their planning and concentrate their resources.


The case study will be of interest to persons engaging in or considering whether to engage in open source development of a library application. It will also appeal to library administrators interested in learning about the technology planning or software development.



Houser, J. (2009), "The VuFind implementation at Villanova University", Library Hi Tech, Vol. 27 No. 1, pp. 93-105.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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