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Open source

Here at FGI, we’re really interested in open source — also called FLOSS for Free/Libre Open Source Software. Open source aligns positively with the philosophy underscoring librarianship in general and documents librarianship specifically — that is, free and open access to and widespread distribution of information, use and reuse of information, and the leveraging of community resources for the betterment of the community as a whole. For more on open source in libraries, read Dan Chudnov’s instructive article, “Open Source Library Systems: Getting Started” (which originally appeared in Library Journal on August 1, 2999) on oss4lib (don’t be confused by their look, oss4lib is using Drupal content management system and the same template theme as FGI!).

On the lighter side of things and in the spirit of the season, check out the open source gift guide from Make Magazine. The guide lists lots of cool techie gifts for those geeks on your list — for those keeping score, I’d love a year of ubuntu support, some open source beer, and USB AA rechargeable batteries!)

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  1. jrjacobs says:

    That’s great news. I played around with Koha in library school (several versions ago :-) ) and it really had some power to it. LibLime really hits the nail on the head about open source:

    Use of open source not only lowers the per-library cost of running ILS and supporting software. It also empowers libraries with a higher level of control over customization and the overall direction of software development.

    LibLime also helps libraries communicate and pool resources by advocating alternative models of knowledge sharing (inter-system and intra-system) that utilize core Internet technologies: e.g., the World Wide Web, electronic databases, blogs, forums, wikis, IRC/IM, RSS.

    The Howard, MD county library — with its 6 branches and over 200 public computer terminals! — went completely open source last year.

    What led the Library to choose Linux? For one thing, there’s ideology. The Linux community has the intent that “information is free and access should also be free.” (Hmm, where have we heard that before?) It’s a vision very compatible with the intent of libraries.

    But of course, there are practical considerations. And in fact, it was realizing that upgrading the libraries Windows NT machines would come with a $35,000 price tag that made the IT staff take a good hard look at open source solutions. Amy says, “We feel an obligation to spend taxpayer money responsibly. We realized that we can provide more machines for the public with the money saved–and lead the profession.”

    Other considerations that made Linux an attractive choice were the operating system’s stability and flexibility, and its resistance to viruses and other security intrusions–including a better ability to prevent user from booting up machines from a floppy disc or CD-ROM. The improved management capability would mean a lot, given the 200 public access computers the Library supports.

    Another factor in choosing Linux was the idea that the Windows operating system includes many, many bells and whistles that the Library didn’t need–and didn’t want to have to pay for. With Linux, they would be able to create and manage an environment that specifically met their needs.

    Anyone got other success stories?

  2. jajacobs says:

    And here’s some open source library OPAC news:

    Koha ZOOM Goes Live, and It Rocks (November 15, 2006) LibLime.

    The Nelsonville Public Library System in Athens Ohio has just gone live with Koha ZOOM, which includes a powerful, full-featured search engine based on Zebra, a high-performance indexing and retrieval engine.

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