Open Source Systems for Libraries: A New Approach to Resource Sharing
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Open Source Systems for Libraries: A New Approach to Resource Sharing

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Open Source Systems for Libraries: A New Approach to Resource Sharing Open Source Systems for Libraries: A New Approach to Resource Sharing Presentation Transcript

  • Open Source Systems for Libraries: A New Approach to Resource Sharing Eric H. Schnell Prior Health Sciences Library The Ohio State University [email_address] Copyleft – 2001
  • “ Free” Software
    • Free as in freedom (and as a free kitten)
    • Little to do with price. It is about freedom
    • A program is free software, if there is:
      • freedom to run the program, for any purpose
      • freedom to modify the program to suit needs
      • freedom to distribute modified versions of the program, so that the community can benefit from your improvements
  • Open Source
    • A philosophy of software development where:
      • a community comes together to create computer programs
      • systems are developed out of mutual need and for economic advantage
      • informal networks are formed to create and support these applications
  • Why Open Source in Libraries?
    • Commercial developers respond slowly
    • Niche vendors gain monopoly
    • Commercial product lifelines uncertain
    • Release date teasers
    • Program code is customizable
    • Helps reduce annual software costs
    • No software maintenance “fees”
  • Why Open Source in Libraries?
    • Reduce service implementation timetable
    • Reallocate funds to other needs
    • Break away from the library system paradigm
    • Creation of new resource sharing networks and consortiums
  • Library Networks
    • National - OCLC, RLG
    • Statewide - OhioLink
    • Regional - NNLM, CIC
  • Library Networks
    • Purchasing discounts
      • Monographs
      • Serials
      • Database access
      • E-Journals
    • Interlibrary loan
    • Special collections
  • Library Networks
    • Libraries choose to participate in a given network:
      • based on their interest
      • on their ability to contribute
      • to gain administrative advantage
      • To gain economic advantage
  • OSLN – Open Sources Library Networks
    • Open source networks reflect the traditional values and philosophy of library networks
    • OSS and OSLN networks build relationships because they share common goals
    • Both support development of software products that support the unique needs of a specific user group
    • Both use a peer-review system of development
  • OSLN – Open Sources Library Networks
    • MyLibrary (North Carolina State)
    • Prospero (Ohio State)
    • Free Reserves (Southern Illinois University)
    • BioMail (SUNY Stonybrook)
    • Internet Station Manager (Grand Rapids, MI PL)
  • OSLN vs. Homegrown
    • Individual libraries often lack all the human elements to create scalable and portable systems ( coding, testing, troubleshooting, user ed )
    • A network of libraries has a greater chance of assembling a development team with a full complement of skills
  • OSLN vs. Homegrown
    • When the programmer of a homegrown system leaves employment the system gradually falls apart and dies
    • OSLN community takes over the management responsibilities of the most viable systems and they continue to evolve
  • OSLN vs. Homegrown
    • Homegrown systems are often created in isolation with minimal external feedback and support
    • The foundation of OSLN is a system of peer review that is missing from most homegrown projects
  • Getting Involved
    • Libraries are always developing applications (delivering dynamic Web content, interactive reference services, or image archive systems)
    • Many of these applications are kept in-house even though they may be useful to other libraries
    • Libraries developing innovative solutions need to consider becoming active open source developers
  • Getting Involved
    • By distributing OSS the library community is able to benefit from a library's experience, resources, and expertise
    • A library’s OSS project could benefit from the community’s experience, resources, and expertise
    • New library networks and consortiums need to be developed to support such initiatives
  • Developer Support
    • Install an existing program
      • play with it
      • evaluate it
      • provide feedback. Constructive and critical feedback is vital
      • Report errors and problems
      • helps clarify misconceptions users and potential users have about the application
  • User Support
    • Documentation
      • installation manuals
      • user guides
    • Instructional materials
      • tip sheets
      • how-to guides
    • Conference presentations
      • local, regional, national meetings
    • Write journal and newsletter articles
  • Development Support
    • Programming
      • system security
      • memory usage
      • file permissions
      • error reports
      • suggest and construct technical solutions
      • create new features
      • create plug-in modules
      • create derivative programs
  • Barriers to Participation
    • Limited understanding
    • Underestimating personal skill set
    • Projects may not proactively recruit
    • Time
    • Administration support
  • Why OSS Projects Die
    • Burn out
    • Inability to acquire a critical mass of users
    • Loss of the leading developer
    • Forking
    • Establishment of library open source resource sharing networks will allow more libraries to provide high quality electronic patron services when they are needed…..
    … .. not when the technology becomes commercially available