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Libris XL


The project consists of:

  • Core

    • whelk-core/ The root component of XL. A shared library implementing a linked data store, including search and MARC conversion.
  • Applications

    • oaipmh/ A servlet web application. OAIPMH service for Libris XL
    • rest/ A servlet web application. Search, RESTful CRUD and other HTTP APIs
    • marc_export/ A servlet (and CLI program) for exporting libris data as MARC.
    • importers/ Java application to load or reindex data into the system.
    • apix_server/ A servlet web application. XL reimplementation of the Libris legacy APIX API.
  • Tools

    • whelktool/ CLI tool for running scripted mass updates of data.
    • librisxl-tools/ Configuration and scripts used for setup, maintenance and operations.

Related external repositories:

  • Core metadata to be loaded is managed in the definitions repository.

  • Also see LXLViewer, our application for viewing and editing the datasets through the REST API.


The instructions below assume an Ubuntu 20.04 system (Debian should be identical), but should work for e.g. Fedora/CentOS/RHEL with minor adjustments.

  1. Gradle

    No setup required. Just use the checked-in gradle wrapper to automatically get the specified version of Gradle and Groovy.

  2. Elasticsearch (version 7.x)

    Download Elasticsearch (for Ubuntu/Debian, select "Install with apt-get"; before importing the Elasticsearch PGP key you might have to do sudo apt install gnupg if you're running a minimal distribution.)


    • We use the elasticsearch-oss version.
    • The ICU Analysis plugin (icu-analysis) must be installed; see "Setting up Elasticsearch" below.
  3. PostgreSQL (version 9.6 or later)

    # Ubuntu/Debian
    sudo apt install postgresql postgresql-client
    # macOS
    brew install postgresql

    Windows: Download and install

  4. Java (version 8)

    sudo apt install openjdk-8-jdk # or openjdk-8-headless


Cloning repositories

Make sure you check out this repository, and also definitions and devops:

git clone
git clone
# devops repo is private; ask for access
git clone

You should now have the following directory structure:

├── definitions
├── devops
├── librisxl

Setting up PostgreSQL

Ensure PostgreSQL is started. In Debian/Ubuntu, this happens automatically after apt install. Otherwise, try systemctl start postgresql in any modern Linux system.

Create database and a database user and set up permissions:

sudo -u postgres bash
createdb whelk_dev
psql -c "CREATE USER whelk PASSWORD 'whelk';"
# !! Replace yourusername with your actual username (i.e., the user you'll run whelk, fab, etc. as)
psql -c "CREATE USER yourusername;"
psql -c "GRANT ALL ON SCHEMA public TO whelk;" whelk_dev
psql -c "GRANT ALL ON ALL TABLES IN SCHEMA public TO whelk;" whelk_dev
# Now find out where the pg_hba.conf file is:
psql -t -P format=unaligned -c 'show hba_file;'

Give all users access to your local database by editing pg_hba.conf. You got the path from the last psql command just above. It's probably something like /etc/postgresql/12/main/pg_hba.conf. Edit it and add the following above any uncommented line (PostgreSQL uses the first match):

host    all             all            trust
host    all             all        ::1/128                 trust

Restart PostgreSQL for the changes to take effect:

sudo systemctl restart postgresql

Test connectivity:

psql -h localhost -U whelk whelk_dev
psql (12.5 (Ubuntu 12.5-0ubuntu0.20.04.1))
SSL connection (protocol: TLSv1.3, cipher: TLS_AES_256_GCM_SHA384, bits: 256, compression: off)
Type "help" for help.

whelk_dev=> \q

Setting up Elasticsearch

Edit /etc/elasticsearch/elasticsearch.yml. Uncomment and set it to something unique on the network. This name is later specified when you configure the XL system.

Next, install the ICU Analysis plugin:

sudo /usr/share/elasticsearch/bin/elasticsearch-plugin install analysis-icu

Finally, (re)start Elasticsearch:

sudo systemctl restart elasticsearch

(To adjust the JVM heap size for Elasticsearch, edit /etc/elasticsearch/jvm.options and then restart Elasticsearch.)

Configuring secrets

Use librisxl/ as a starting point:

cd librisxl
# In, set:
# - elasticCluster to whatever you set to in the Elasticsearch configuration above.
# Make sure points to
echo '' | sudo tee -a /etc/hosts

Importing test data

Run the fabric task that sets up a new Elasticsearch index and imports example data:

cd ../devops
# Make sure you have Python 3 and curl
sudo apt install python3 python3-pip curl
# Create virtual Python 3 environment for fab
python3 -m venv venv
# Activate virtual environment
source venv/bin/activate
# Install dependencies
pip install -r requirements.txt
# Create Elasticsearch index
fab conf.xl_local app.whelk.create_es_index
# Import test data
fab conf.xl_local app.whelk.import_work_example_data


To start the CRUD part of the whelk, run the following commands:


cd ../librisxl/rest
export JAVA_OPTS="-Dfile.encoding=utf-8"
../gradlew appRun


$ cd $LIBRISXL/rest
$ setx JAVA_OPTS "-Dfile.encoding=utf-8"
$ ../gradlew.bat appRun

The system is then available on http://localhost:8180. (The OAI-PMH service is started in a similar way: just cd into oaipmh instead of rest.)

To run the frontend, see LXLViewer.


Everything you would want to do should be covered by the devops repo. This section is mostly kept as a reminder of alternate (less preferred) ways.

Development Workflow

If you need to work locally (e.g. in this or the "definitions" repo) and perform specific tests, you can use this workflow:

  1. Create and push a branch for your work.
  2. Set the branch in the conf.xl_local config in the devops repo.
  3. Use the regular tasks to e.g. reload data.

New Elasticsearch config

If a new index is to be set up, and unless you run locally in a pristine setup, or use the recommended devops-method for loading data you need to PUT the config to the index, like:

$ curl -XPUT http://localhost:9200/indexname_versionnumber \
    -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
    -d @librisxl-tools/elasticsearch/libris_config.json

Create an alias for your index

$ curl -XPOST http://localhost:9200/_aliases \
    -H 'Content-Type: application/json' \
    -d  '{"actions":[{"add":{"index":"indexname_versionnumber","alias":"indexname"}}]}'

(To replace an existing setup with entirely new configuration, you need to delete the index curl -XDELETE http://localhost:9200/<indexname>/ and read all data again (even locally).)

Format updates

If the MARC conversion process has been updated and needs to be run anew, the only option is to reload the data from production using the importers application.


Produce a stats file (here for bib) by running:

$ cd importers && ../gradlew build
$ RECTYPE=bib && time java -jar build/libs/vcopyImporter.jar vcopyjsondump $RECTYPE | grep '^{' | pypy ../librisxl-tools/scripts/ $RECTYPE /tmp/usage-stats-$RECTYPE.json