Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT Thanks for opportunity to talk about Libraries and IT departments and how to work together. Thx also for focussing on SUCCESSFUL stories This talk is from a Mgt. viewpoint: for techie viewpoint, see any number of Access or code4lib people
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT Paul and Bill have talked about the roles of the Library and campus in terms of the provision of IT support to the Library. The environment has become increasingly complex over the past few years as we have moved beyond the basic desktop, integrated Library System, email, and web server requirements. Most academic libraries are now engaged in supporting chat reference, link resolvers, and digital and web content management systems including institutional repositories. The line between what should or can be supported within the Library and what can or should be supported by campus IT depends very much on the culture and resource allocation within the institution. This argues for the library to consider the adoption of open source software only if a. there is already in-house programming expertise or b. the software is sufficiently critical to the library that it is worth reallocating resources to hiring a programmer, at least on a contract basis or c. if the software can be supported elsewhere for a fee,( usually considerably lower than commercial equivalents). The most well known model for the latter is RedHat, which provides support for the open source linux software for a fee. The introduction of library open source software introduces more complexity and the issue becomes not only one of campus IT supporting those technologies which the library is unable to because of inadequate expertise or funding, or where the library chooses to allocate the responsibility to campus IT while transferring funds, but also a question of whether or not to adopt specific open source software based on available expertise. Often the adoption of open source software requires in-house (or campus-based) programming expertise and thus goes beyond the basic support provided by technicians and many systems librarians, support which is more often than not housed in the library. While it can be argued that the ILS is mission-critical to the Library and to the University and thus deserves central support, it is often harder to make that case for Open source software, though with the advent of open source ILSs, the issue becomes more complex.
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT Here’s a quote from the linux story: &quot;The open source movement and libraries have a lot in common, not the least of which is the belief in free and open access to ideas and information. Yet, until recently, libraries have been slow to switch to open source software. Libraries have highly specialized software needs because the library community has developed its own complex standards and protocols to facilitate things like interlibrary loan, meta data sharing, and federated searching. Until recently, lack of commercial support made implementing open source unfeasible for libraries without an IT staff. Also, open source alternatives weren't perceived as scalable or feature-rich enough to handle the complex needs of most libraries. Now, commercial support has facilitated new levels of collaboration between libraries through sponsored development.&quot;
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT SFU Library established a cohort of systems staff and ran its own systems from its inception, for a variety of reasons. In the early ’90s, with a contract to develop online requesting software for the ELN (using a commercial product), a cohort of strong systems developers began to grow. Subsequently the funding to develop reSearcher from COPPUL led to the strengthening of the group, and, despite early ambitions to make a fortune through selling the code, a decision was taken to make it Open source. Having such a technical cohort in-house has enabled us to move into new development areas relatively easily. Our success and our continuing and carefully cultivated good relations with IT also enabled us to demonstrate the value of maintaining an operation largely independent of campus IT while measuring up to their security and quality requirements. They have been comfortable with our playing a role in developing and using Open Source Software because we are responsive to concerns they may express and because they see their mandate as more narrowly defined. SFU Library’s software development has been funded in two ways: by reallocating funding which might have gone to software purchases (eg SFX) and by external funding obtained from ELN, COPPUL and other interested libraries, some international.
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT At this point SFU Library has a mix of commercial and Open source products, and will continue with this strategy, making decisions based on cost, complexity, and interest and funding from other institutions. Not listed is our ILS (Innovative Interfaces) which is essentially ‘black boxed’; we anticipate continuing with that situation, at least for the forseeable future.
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT There are often fairly complex systems requirements for open source products, eg for the PKP OJS software. However, the option exists to buy support for this software from SFU Library
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT While some open source products are large and complex, others may be small but very useful. For example, this is the out-of-the-box MRBS software available at Sourceforge, used for study room booking.
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT At SFU Versions of this same open source software MRBS are used for Staff notebooks and USB keys Bennett Other Digitization Shifts SLC Peers Requires someone with PHP skills to modify (systems lib’n, technician) Need to be concerned re ongoing support (individual may leave or be working on other things or more focussed on ‘developing neat things’) than on providing robust online resources (not a problem at SFU!)
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT There are many many database engines available. By far the most commonly used is MySQL, in many instances a viable alternative to DB2 or the very expensive Oracle product, at least for localized applications.
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT It remains to be seen how successful the two main Open Source ILS’s, Koha and Evergreen are relative to the widely distributed commercial products.
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT Finally, while many of the more solid open source products (linux, Apache, firefox) are widely adopted by campus IT, their caution in considering open source solutions is certainly understandable. Often the cost of testing and ensuring the reliability of these products can surpass the cost of purchasing commerical software, and certainly more risky. Libraries need to be thinking in the same way, and consulting with their IT partners on campus, as even seemingly small applications may have hidden security risks, not to mention bugs. In particular, if there appears to be no visible support or use of a software product, it is probably best avoided.
Lynn Copeland CLA 2007 Libraries and IT
Academic Libraries & IT depts in the Open Source Environment: the Management viewpoint Lynn Copeland & Gwen Bird Simon Fraser University Library CLA May 25, 2007