7 Open Source Library Software to Consider…07.22.09

22 07 2009

Here is an excerpt from a very useful post by Brett Bonfield on In the Library With a Lead Pipe titled W-E-B-S-I-T-E, Find Out What It Means To Me:

It’s interesting how many people don’t really understand the concept of open source. People often describe freeware as open source, or they’ll describe free web-based applications as open source, or applications with APIs that allow for mashups. There are articles all the time, on some of the most popular websites, that recommend free software but don’t distinguish programs the authors gives away for free from software that is actually open source.

For a program to be open source, it has to meet two basic qualifications

  1. The author has to provide full access to its source code
  2. The software has to be accompanied by a license that protects the contributions and rights of the community…

In my opinion, there are seven open source software projects worth considering

There’s some apples-and-oranges going on here, in that some of these packages are just components of a website and require other software in order to do everything a library website needs to do (such as inventory management). Other packages cover the entire process…”


FREE Webinar – Libraries and Open Source Software…03.11.09

11 03 2009



From Karen at the Evergreen blog:

Understanding Open Source, Tues, March 17, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. ET

Join us for a Webinar on March 17 about open source software! Reserve your Webinar seat now at:


This webinar will answer the most commonly-asked questions about open source software, such as…

* What does “free” mean?
* Why are libraries using open source software?
* What kind of open source software is available for libraries?
* Do we have to maintain it ourselves? (Quick spoiler: no.)
* What are the characteristics of good open source software?
* What are some easy ways to learn more about open source software?

Bring your own questions, as well!

This webinar offers flexible access options. You can:

1. Use a computer headset with a microphone to both listen and speak

2. Phone in to a toll-based conference line, or

3. Listen in on computer speakers and text your thoughts in a chat window.

The session will open up 15 minutes early for people who want to practice their webinar skills or test their equipment.

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

System Requirements

(Note: we have had trouble finding affordable webinar software that supported Linux workstations — let alone a satisfactory product that was itself open source. If you have suggestions, we’re all ears.)

PC-based attendees:

Required: Windows 2000, XP Home, XP Pro, 2003 Server, Vista

Macintosh-based attendees:

Required: Mac OS X 10.4 (Tiger) or newer

“15 Open Search Tools On The Web”…03.11.09

11 03 2009

Thanks to The Centered Librarian for his posting of Open Access Journals and Search yesterday:

“Thanks, in part, to the rise of open access journals, librarians should be actively investigating new discovery tools that will allow convenient access to this area of scholarly research. The Directory of Open Access Journals is a good place to start and the following list of search tools might also be handy.

15 Open Search Tools On The Web


Open Source ILS in Library Technology Reports lastest issue…12.04.08

4 12 2008

A Bibliographic WIlderness blog post “Library Technology Reports on Open Source ILS” [http://bibwild.wordpress.com/2008/12/03/library-technology-reports/] says,

“The newest issue of Library Technology Reports is now available in ProQuest.

Library Technology Reports; Chicago, Nov/Dec 2008; Vol.44, Iss.8

(EBSCO carries fulltext for LTR too, but their latest issue online is 14:7 as of this time.)

This issue is about Open Source Library Automation (ILSs), and is written in it’s entirety by Marshall Breeding.

As usual, Breeding does an excellent job. He delineates the open source ILS landscape, writing clearly, concisely, and accurately.  Probably not too much new information in there for the techies among us who already know this stuff (although I learned about two existing open source ILS options I hadn’t known about, one used in K-12, and the other internationally, both developed by an existing vendor, rather than customer-developed like Koha and Evergreen).

But it’s perfect for sending to administrators and non-technical librarians to understand what all this open source stuff is all about. If they don’t trust and/or understand us when we explain it, maybe they’ll trust the respected name of Breeding, and understand his very clear prose.”

Open-Source Risk Management…11.18.08

18 11 2008

On occasion, I will relate information about Evergreen, Koha, and other “open source” products that are of interest to me.  The IT Dept. here it seems would never consider using open source tool.  I collect information on these products, however, with the idea that 1) I need to stay accurately informed and 2) maybe one day I might need to make a valid and convincing argument for such items.  Anyway, here is an an excerpt from a useful post [http://sla-divisions.typepad.com/itbloggingsection/2008/11/risk-management.html] on the blogging section of the SLA IT Division about managing risk when considering using open source products:

“Jonathan Rochkind has written an awesome article for Library Journal about risk management when it comes to open source software. Jonathan walks librarians through all of the levels of risk you might be taking choosing open source software – most of which are the same as the risks you take with any software (for home, office or library).  He also defines the different levels of open source software you’ll find out in the wild:

  1. Homegrown products are used and developed by only one or very few libraries. They are usually written to meet very local requirements without much effort to generalize and are supported by the same local staff who wrote them. A risk of homegrown software is managing the transition when that original staff leaves.
  2. Community support products have a thriving network of users and developers across a variety of institutions. A community of users and developers is, of course, not contractually bound to provide help, but many open source products have strong groups willing to spend time helping you for the greater good of the project.
  3. Vendor support products are backed by paid commercial contracts available from companies in the business of supporting open source products. Even though these vendors don’t own the software, they provide technical help for the software via contract, very much like a support contract for proprietary software. In the general market, a well-established and successful example is Red Hat Enterprise Linux, a variant of the open source Linux OS, for which the Red Hat company offers support contracts.

He then breaks down the different risks associated with the different types of open source software, reminding librarians…Make sure you read the entire article and share it with the skeptics in your organization – education is the only way to fight ignorance and skepticism.”

“Open Source” Growing Importance Recognized…10.28.08

28 10 2008

The Centered Librarian points out some good discussion [http://centeredlibrarian.blogspot.com/2008/10/50000-lb-gorilla-hiding-in-plain-sight.html] on the obviously growing importance and influence of “open source”:

“Gartner confirms the growing importance of open source software stating, ‘…by 2012, more than 90 per cent of enterprises will use open source in direct or embedded forms’. Open source promoters dispute the Gartner claims as too conservative. Promoters also feel Gartner has drastically underestimated the pervasiveness of open source. A discussion of the Gartner report can be found here.

The Standish Group, with no apparent irony, released a $1,000 per copy report this week that names open source software as the utlimate in disruptive technology. It states, ‘…if open-source products and services were calculated at commercial prices, open source as a whole would be equivalent to the largest software company in the world, with revenues exceeding the combined income of Microsoft, Oracle and Computer Associates.’ If you don’t have $1,000 to pony up for the report, you can read about it here.”

Open Source Software Support “(Mis) Perception” Debunked…07.16.08

16 07 2008

I have foregone even consideration of open source ILS software for use at BHM fearing that the reaction of our IT Department would be that the support needed would not be there when needed.  This has been a great concern for me as well.  The argument put for by Nicole Engard’s post yesterday “The Curioius (Mis) Perception of Open Source Support”   http://www.web2learning.net/archives/1865 put me over the edge:

“Matt Asay always writes such great posts.

Forrester finds that European enterprises cite support as their biggest reason for not adopting open-source software. This has persisted for years, with support (or, a lack thereof) consistently listed as one of the top reasons that enterprises throughout the world avoid open source.

The ironic thing is that open-source companies primarily sell support, not software. So…while proprietary-software vendors sell licenses with support as an afterthought, enterprises don’t seem to question that they’re going to get support. At the same time, open-source companies sell support with licenses as an afterthought…and enterprise buyers worry that they won’t get support.

I’m just suggesting that stifling your company’s open-source adoption because of a perceived lack of support is silly and outdated. Welcome to the 21st Century. Open-source vendors provide support as good or better than their proprietary peers. Really.

When I teach my open source classes I always focus on this detail because I know that people worry about the support model for open source software. There is also a discussion going on a mailing list I subscribe to about this very topic…”

If I ever selected an open source alternative, however, I’m am confident I’ll still face an uphill battle convincing our current IT Dept. to accept it.

BTW, I never did hear back from our IT Dept. when I requested to know why our ILS software/server was down.