CIL2008: Open Source Applications

Open Source Applications

Glen Horton is with the SouthWest Ohio and Neighboring Libraries
Libraries and Open Source both:
– believe information should be freely accessible to everyone
– give stuff away
– benefit from the generosity of others
– are about communities
– make the world a better place
Libraries create open source applications (LibraryFind, Evergreen, Koha, VUfind, Zotero, LibX, etc.)
Miami University of Ohio has a SOLR/Drupal OPAC in beta ( Not even a product — just a test environment.
How can you do this without a developer? You can contribute to the community in other ways. Teach how to use the open source tools your library has installed — even if not developed there. Hold classes for your patrons on how to use the tools that are available. Help build a user community around the open source tools that you think are of value.
You can document open source software — improve the documentation for other libraries. When you figure it out, help others down the same path. Documentation is often hit or miss; developers are not necessarily good documentation writers – or don’t have time to do so. You can help debug open source tools. Report bugs!Influence the development path for the software. Bigger projects often have active support forums — lots of people reporting and fixing bugs. Smaller projects may not have that infrastructure.
Even if you don’t create or use open source software, you can promote it by linking to it from your web site, distributing it on CDs or thumb drives, etc.
“Open Source or Die.” Libraries benefit from open source — make sure that you are giving back to equal the benefit. Teach it, use it, document it, evangelize it.
Slides are at

Open Source Desktop Applications

Julian Clark is at Georgetown University Law Library.
Why open source? It’s free! As in kittens. Which means – acquisition is no cost, but you’ve got a lifetime of maintenance and upkeep. But even more so… you have control and customization. You can change it to make it look and act the way you want. Security — active communities keep applications safe and updated against whatever the latest attack might be.
Why now? FUD about Open Source is declining. (FUD = Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt). As open source becomes more mainstream, gut reaction against it is on the decline.
When is best time to adopt? When you’re ready; there’s no easy way to gauge this. Depends on your IT support, library management, colleagues… But it can fit into your major upgrade cycle. If you’re planning a major upgrade anyway, why not consider a switch rather than an upgrade? These upgrades often have long lead times; why not take advantage of that planning process to migrate? Also could be triggered by reduced capital funding — where you have staff, but not money, to spend on your systems.
Can you do this? Do you have the right hardware to run the tool? (This applies to both back-end or web-based systems as well as to the operating system for public use computers — a replacement for Windows, for example.) Does your organization’s IT group support open source — how much can you do, with whom do you have to collaborate?
Support options — purchased 3rd-party support; often available, varying degrees of quality and availability depending on the software being supported. Can often hire for a project, for long-term, etc. Flexibility. Of course, there’s always in-house — someone on your staff who knows (or can learn) the software and who knows and understands your organization.
Q: Glen — what are risks of providing open source software to patrons who then want support from you for it
A: Well, you can provide it explicitly as-is.