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Open Source Libraries


An article on Opensource.com caught my attention today.  The article focused on developing and using open source solutions in libraries.  Libraries are one of the places where openness and sharing go hand-in-hand.  Why more open source software solutions aren’t found there I don’t really understand.

Take my library for instance.  There are ten computers there for the public to use.  These computers are running old versions of Microsoft Windows and old versions of Internet Explorer.  The software is so old and antiquated that I’ve actually had problems using some web applications on these computers.  The library also uses the SirsiDynix software for its ILS solution.  This software offers one of the worst search I’ve ever experienced.  Even if I know the title of the resource I’m looking for it doesn’t generally help in locating the resource in the database.  The system also lacks a history feature so you can obtain a list of items you’ve checked out.  It would also be nice if their system integrated with the state’s electronic library so that a single search would show books (and media) available locally as well as electronic versions available from the state.

I want to take a closer look at Koha and see if their ILS solution is any better.  If it is I may approach my library management people with this solution.  I will propose they use Linux (Fedora?) for their public computers as it will yield a more secure and better web-browsing environment at less cost.  Libraries support sharing and learning and should take advantage of the sharing and learning that comes with open source software.

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  1. Chuck
    2013-02-19 at 22:44 EST

    You might want to talk to the Howard County (MD) Library IT group. They currently have just over 300 public facing Ubuntu based machines. They also use F/OSS software throughout the organization where they can. I can provide you contact information if you are interested. http://hclibrary.org/index.php?page=305

    Unfortunately many libraries are reluctant to switch to F/OSS due to a lack of resources (knowledge) of Linux and other such options. Additionally so much of the DRM media that is being introduced into the systems relies on MS solutions.

    This article is a few years old [older than the Jan 2012 date] and Amy is no longer at the library. However the article gives a nice history of how they brought in Linux to the organization. http://www.webjunction.org/documents/webjunction/Howard_County_040_MD_041_Library_Open_Source_045_erers.html

    • 2013-02-19 at 22:59 EST

      Thanks for the resources. I’d like to have as much information as I can before going to the library people with my suggestion. It certainly seems promising.

    • 2013-02-19 at 23:03 EST

      I forgot to mention that your information hit close to home as I live in Anne Arundel County (right next door to Howard County). That might be good for me to have a success story so close to home.

  2. 2013-02-19 at 22:50 EST

    Speaking as a systems librarian who has been pushing open source in libraries for 7 years now, that would be great, Eric!

    Depending on your local library system, Evergreen (http://evergreen-ils.org) might be a good fit as well; it’s oriented towards groups of libraries that want to share a single system.

    I’ve been working on packaging Evergreen for Fedora, very slowly; tackling the Perl dependencies first, and trying to improve EG’s autotools usage to comply with Fedora requirements (and to generally match the expectations of the rest of the world, heh).

    • 2013-02-19 at 23:02 EST

      I’ll have to check into that software as well. If you need anyone to look at your package please let me know.

      I’d really like to see this idea take off and every library make the switch!

  3. 2013-02-20 at 04:34 EST

    Hello there. I’m from the National Library of the Philippines, we have been using Fedora & Koha since 2008. We also have tried to deploy it to public libraries using fedora as a server os & koha as ILS..

    Next step is to package fedora with koha installation.. Hoping we could get help from the fedora community. Most users of koha are debian…

    • 2013-02-20 at 08:12 EST

      I downloaded the source to Koha last night and was looking at the build procedures. They appear to have some sort of interactive build process so I’ll need to see if we can script that.

  4. 2013-02-20 at 07:21 EST
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