Blacklight Contractor

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Created: March 16, 2012


Vendor Search for Creation of Production Cross-Search and Context Utility

The University of Oregon (University)  through the Orbis Cascade Alliance’s Northwest Digital Archives (NWDA) program is seeking a contractor to create a comprehensive fully functioning production version of an existing prototype system that allows searching and accessing digitized objects and data in the context of the collections to which they belong (Cross-Search and Context Utility or XCU.)  Specifically, the XCU must allow context specific access to existing digital content and associated collection-level metadata stored in digital archives in thirty-six systems at twenty-five institutions and detailed metadata from archival and manuscript collections at thirty-three institutions. This type of context specific access will greatly improve the presentation and usability of digital content and associated metadata and better meet the needs of end users. The project is funded by a National Leadership Grant from the Institute for Museum Services (IMLS).

The XCU concept stems from three years of needs assessment and planning for digital services conducted by Orbis Cascade Alliance member libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies. While great advances are being made in the discoverability of widely replicated content, unique materials remain difficult to find and none of the existing or emerging discovery systems successfully convey the connections between related digital objects. User studies demonstrate that the ways that unique materials held by cultural heritage organizations are currently presented in the online environment are confusing to users because of a lack of sufficient context and metadata. Through the further development and implementation of the XCU, this project will address both the aggregation of content and the integration of results to better represent the intellectual and/or physical collections of materials offline. If successful, the XCU will be a valuable system for cultural heritage organizations that have digitized content and metadata about unique collections in disparate systems but lack the means for searching and presenting this material in context.

This letter does not constitute a solicitation for bids or an offer of a contract. Responses will not bind you to the University (or the University to you) contractually or monetarily, or in any other way. Please do not respond exclusively by telephone or merely by sending marketing brochures. Please feel free to make suggestions, in addition to responding to the questions. Please submit your responses to Jodi Allison NWDA Program Manager and grant project manager (phone: 406-829-6528, email by no later than March 21, 2012 at 5pm.  Responses submitted after this date may be considered if the University, in its sole discretion, deems appropriate or desirable.

Once the University receives all information it wishes to obtain, it will evaluate the information and determine whether to negotiate with you. The University may negotiate with no vendors, one vendor, or more than one vendor. It is the University’s intent to purchase the software and services it deems, in its sole discretion, to provide the best value to the University, though the University may choose to purchase no software or services.  Price will be one of many factors considered in any purchase. The factors considered are not limited to those addressed in this letter, the responses to this letter, or any other inquiries the University might make and responses it might receive. The University reserves the right to request software demonstrations, if in its sole discretion, the University determines that software demonstrations are in its best interest. The University is under no obligation to share additional information with you beyond that contained in this letter but may do so if the University, in its sole discretion, deems it advantageous.

It is hoped that the result of this process will be a binding contract between the University and a vendor which will include terms and conditions substantially set forth in the draft agreement, attached as Exhibit A to this letter.  If you have questions, concerns or proposed revisions to any of the terms and conditions contained in the attached contract, you must address those in your response. If you do not address your questions, concerns or proposed revisions in your response, the following terms and conditions in the attached agreement will be non-negotiable and will not be subject to revision: Sections: 6 and 7.

The University is seeking information to use in negotiating a contract for services to build a comprehensive fully functioning production version of the current prototype XCU system. The Contractor will provide the following services and specified requirements within the described environment:

The Orbis Cascade Alliance (Alliance) is a consortium of 36 academic libraries in Oregon and Washington, of which University is a member. Member libraries work together to provide outstanding services to students and faculty, share information resources and expertise, develop library staff, and help members allocate financial and human resources to serve the unique needs of each member. The Alliance considers the combined collections of member institutions as one collection. To this end, University is undertaking this vendor search for the creation of a production XCU system.

Take an existing Blacklight-based prototype of the XCU and build a production version. 

Work with University staff to harvest metadata (mostly from Content DM, DSpace, and BePress, with a few homegrown systems) provided by member institutions which will be reformatted and indexed as necessary to allow it to arranged into arbitrary collections or searched together. 

To provide a consistent experience, display of digital objects will be within the system, though these will not be harvested.

The Blacklight installation will be hosted on an Amazon cloud server through the Alliance Digital Services Program.

Link an additional repository for institution contact information and information on getting digital and analog copies of materials developed by Alliance staff, hosted at the Alliance into the XCU.

Allow for expansion of the XCU to include a seamless e-commerce system for ordering copies or for facilitating inter-institutional loan of materials. 

Since the aim of the site is search engine exposure rather than an elaborate search interface, the bulk of the work supporting end users will focus on search engine optimization. The Contractor will also develop a search interface for the utility. This will provide a simple keyword search with limiters that include institution, material type, subjects, and geographical location.

The Contractor will work with the University’s Project Manager, Alliance technical staff, and eight representatives from eight member institutions (Partner Institutions) through in-person meetings (three scheduled in Portland, OR), email and telephone calls to build a user experience consistent with the needs that the Alliance has established for the XCU using an agile or iterative design process.

Partner Institutions will be highly involved in the design of the user experience by providing subjects from core audiences to give feedback on evolving designs and by giving feedback themselves.  Another contractor will perform a summative evaluation of the XCU system in the last 9 months of this project.

More information on the project is available at

Timeline:  Work will commence on award of contract (scheduled for April 2012) and must be completed by March 31, 2013.

Please provide the following information:

General Experience: State years of service and a detailed explanation of Contractor’s experience in doing projects that includes their ability to:

1. Follow programming specifications
2. Finish projects on time and within budget
3. Communicate within their organization and with a contracting entity
4. Work and communicate with multiple institutions.
5. Experience with IT in a higher education environment
6. Experience writing and maintaining technical documentation

Experience With Providing Project Specific Services:

Provide a detailed explanation of the ability to provide the following project specific services:

1. Familiarity with metadata standards, particularly Dublin Core, EAD, METS, MODS, and MARC
2. Facility with UNIX/Linux
3. Programming experience in Ruby on Rails
4. Experience with OAI-PMH
5. Proficiency with Blacklight search and discovery software
6. Experience with repository software (such as DSpace, Greenstone, or Fedora)

Examples of past project work that substantiates their ability to provide these project specific services.

Examples Must:
Be in Blacklight
Include the use cases or another description of the aims and objectives of the project
Include any formal assessment that was completed on the project

References:  Provide a current list of customers, along with a contact name, phone number, and email address. These references shall be clients for whom you’ve provided services similar to that which is being requested in this RFP.

Scheduling/Availability: Describe company’s availability to provide services for this project between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2013.

Project Pricing:  Provide detailed itemized pricing to perform the project.  Project Pricing must include all features, characteristics and functions as described.

You must also provide the following information:

1. List the software that is included in your software solution and provide a price quote for the software.
2. Identify the warranty period.
3. Describe any limited service contracts you offer, including an overview of the terms and current pricing.
4. Do you charge for telephone support after the expiration of the warranty period?
5. Describe any technical support you provide to your customers when they need assistance
6. Describe any operational training available
7. Describe any installation requirements
8. Provide any other information, documents, or materials you wish

Responses to this letter will be retained by the University for a required retention period and made a part of a file or record that will be open to public inspection. If a response contains any information that is considered a “trade secret” under ORS 192.501(2), you must mark each page containing such information with the following legend: “TRADE SECRET”.

The Oregon public records law exempts from disclosure only bona fide trade secrets, and the exemption from disclosure applies “unless the public interest requires disclosure in the particular instance.”  Non-disclosure of documents or any portion thereof or information contained therein may depend on official or judicial determinations made pursuant to law. An entire response to this letter marked as “trade secret” is unacceptable, and the response will be returned to you for modification.

Questions about this procurement should be directed to Jodi Allison-Bunnell at 406-829-6528 or


Last updated: Tuesday, February 28, 2017 23:47 UTC