Open Source Library System Software: Free is Just the Tip of the Iceberg


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Libraries now have the opportunity to move away from the proprietary integrated library system (ILS) model where the library contracts with a single vendor for the license, migration assistance, and support. The alternative is to move to an Open Source Library System (OSLS), which eliminates the costs associated with the licenses and maintenance contracts entirely. Sounds great, but what does that mean for the library that still needs migration assistance, ongoing support, and maybe even hosting from a "vendor?"

Fear not! There are many ways to get help evaluating the options, planning the migration, converting the library to the new OSLS and getting the support you need from service providers.

This webinar helps clarify the differences between the proprietary ILS model and the new OSLS model, including what it means for the library staff and budget.

Published in: Technology, Education
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  • I’ve gotten some more recent data and some corrections on my slides. Here’s those corrections:
    Slide 3: Evergreen went live in September 2006. OLE, one of the other open source library system products listed in the footnote is just starting to be developed. It isn’t yet available. Slide 4 Howard County is not on Koha. They announced plans to move to Koha but have since changed their minds. Slide 5 Evergreen is currently running on at least 170 systems (453 outlets). 147 of those are public library systems. Slide 6 Since Howard County isn’t on Koha afterall, I won’t be using them as my ’large library system choosing Koha’ slide but it is true that South Central Library System is a large consortia still planning to move to Koha. Slide 18 Evergreen Indiana is now up to 42 libraries. Slide 19: I’ve learned about some more Do-It-Yourself Evergreen libraries: University of Prince Edward Island, Conifer, and Innisfil Public Library (Canada). Slide 24 Middletown Township is working with PTFS, but they are running Koha, not Evergreen. Slide 31 Evergreen Indiana is up to 42 libraries now and circ as of FY 2007 was at least 10.4 million.
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  • First of 2-part series on OSLS. Today: introduction / orientation to OS and how it works. Differences between an OSLS and ILS, Benefits what’s going on in libraryland I am library technology consultant. Lots of work recently on OSLS projects.
  • What does that mean? OSLS versus ILS
  • PINES is the statewide public library consortium (aka lending network) - P ublic I nformation N etwork for E lectronic S ervices -union catalog -2 million bib records -9 million item. Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) – manages PINES KOHA Developed by Katipo Communications for the Horowhenua Library Trust Needed system that could connect branch libraries to central library over ordinary phone lines Y2K issue forced the deadline NewGenLib – most used in India (as of 2007, 122 libraries) PMB - France OPALS – school libraries OLE – doesn’t exist yet
  • Developed in 16 weeks. Launched launched 1/1/2000 (Y2K) – special library First us library in 2005 Ohio, USA-- Nelsonville Public Library 2002 first public library in the U.S. to adopt the open-source ILS • 7 Branches • 350,000 items • 620,000 circulation, annually • 40,000 borrowers Of 1000 libraries internationally, only 312 are in the US Primary market: Small International School Special But….more and more publics Liblime (2005) made a big impact in the U.S. 285 with Liblime support (170 publics) 2 with ByWater support (both academic) 2 with PTFS support (1 public) 23 independent (9 publics) – DIY Two User Groups French has been active for quite some time KUDOS is just getting started Website just launched: Developers Well developed network of international contributors (committers) – 80ish Core development team is “elected” by community for each new release
  • 102 libraries (94 publics) All consortia members except 8: SC - Calhoun County, Dorchester County, Fairfield County, , York County French Link (IN) Kent County (MD) Killeen City (TX) Marshall Public (MO) Designed for 270-member LENDING CONSORTIUM whose MEMBERS COLLABORATE but have DIFFERENT POLICIES Developed over two years (2005-2007) Evergreen designed to 1. handle LARGE INDEXING AND TRANSACTION LOADS 2. HIGHLY CONFIGURABLE POLICIES for each member Three state-wide project selected Evergreen: Georgia PINES, Michigan Evergreen, Evergreen Indiana Consortia: SITKA (BC) Conifer (Ontario) Natural Resources Canada 7 individual libraries Coming: NELINET (New England) North Texas Regional Library System (NTRLS) South Carolina State Library (SC LENDS) Mahatma Education Society (India) King County Library System? SC LENDS: “ By using open source, SC LENDS libraries estimate that they will save more than $200,000 a year in software licensing costs. “ Will launch new service: South Carolina Library Evergreen Network Delivery System The initial pilot group of 11 libraries, which includes South Carolina State Library, provides direct service to 1.3 million people in 10 counties and has 2.5 million books and serial volumes (FY2006 data). When the pilot group finishes migrating in the fall of 2009, SC LENDS will then be the second-largest Evergreen consortium. More libraries will come on board in 2010 and beyond.
  • Small library choosing Evergreen: William Jessup serves 500 students Large libraries choosing Koha: Howard County: Volumes: 998,613 Annual circ: 4,787,081 Consortia choosing Koha SEK-n-Find (Southeast Kansas Library Consortium) Large and Consortia: South Central Library System (WI): Volumes: 3,041,649 Annual circ: 11,262,790
  • Define some terms: Commonly used: FOSS = Free Open Source Software Means: Freely downloadable Source code can be viewed and modified and redistributed But there is more…. [And licensed]
  • Open Source software is licensed software: Both share: free, can modify and redistribute BUT Key difference in “how” you can use it: GPL states “derived works must be available under same license” while BSD license need only “acknowledges the authors”
  • Some say BSD is “more free” because there are no restrictions for how it is used…. With the GPL license applies to both Koha and Evergreen neither the product nor derivation will get rolled into a proprietary, commercial product So, yes it is “less free” in the sense that it limits exactly “how someone can build upon it” but….
  • The GPL license ensures that everything that goes into Evergreen and Koha will remain Free and Open Source All improvement will benefit libraries who will always have Free access to this software Term for this…..[Copyright vs. copyleft]
  • Copyright: allows author to prohibit others from reproducing, adapting, or distributing copies of the author's work Copyleft: every person who receives a copy of a work permission to reproduce, adapt or distribute the work as long as any resulting copies or adaptations are also bound by the same copyleft licensing scheme. e.g. GNU General Public License, Creative Commons ShareAlike license Evergreen and Koha use copyleft (not copyright) to ensure the freedoms are preserved, even when the work is changed or added to.
  • Besides the differences between licensing… Intellectual property copyright versus OS copyleft licensing Other important differences between ILS and OSLS Costs….
  • To say the least…. There is no doubt, that you will save money on licensing by choosing OSLS because there is NO Cost for this….
  • Software maintenance…same thing Updates area freely available (and frequent)
  • With current ILS – ILS vendor and support provider go hand-in-hand Innovative supports Millennium SirsiDynix support Unicorn, Horizon and Symphony TLC supports Carl Example: start with Liblime, switch to ByWater, then move to even cheaper support option provided by local consortia! Start out needing lots of support Maybe need migration assistance for some libraries Then develop in house expertise so need less help Then local consortia takes on roll of providing first level support to all members… [consortia doing this today]
  • Currently four companies that can offer support for Koha and Liblime…. These companies can provide more than support….. Offer today: OSLS support Hosting Migration Some training Could also contract with them to provide service level guarantees if necessary They could also do security audits of the software – not “their” software so it would still be a 3p audit
  • Support means first level support. Who you call. Additional support is provided by community and/or commercial provider. Another model is the State agency providing the first level of support…..
  • State Library can provide support. And you may not even need a support contract…..
  • Evergreen: at least one library William Jessup University Koha: 75 libraries (22 publics) don’t have support contracts including Viborg SD: pop. 832 Hopewell NJ: pop. 2000 Castleton VT: pop. 4372 All small and rather “off the grid” so there could be lots more…
  • Here’s something we’ve never been able to do before…. To me, more exciting than the savings in costs we get from NOT having to pay for the licesning and maintenance costs… We can develop our own software so that it works how we want it to work. What is (is not) development…..
  • With an ILS, you may be able to ‘customize” Make minor tweaks Choose configuration settings Why this isn’t “development”: Usually limited as to what can and cannot be done The “vendor” holds all the cards. You hold the checkbook. What is “development” then?
  • You are in charge of how the software is going to work Why does this matter? ….
  • Ever had a service that you wanted to offer but couldn’t? Ever had to develop some strange procedures into order to enforce policies that didn’t really fit with tho how the software worked? Ever paid to have something customized by the vendor? Took too long Came out bizarre? I hear you saying….but we don’t have a developer!......
  • Contract with your support vendor for development Hire a programmer to make the changes you need for your workflow Partner with a group of libraries to fund development of a needed module Contribute to development work in progress to expedite release schedule Integrate an existing 3P software product with the OSLS Koha v. 3.2 Release Manager Galen Charlton <gmc@liblime DOT com> from LibLime Release Maintainer To be determined upon release Quality Assurance Manager Position Open - email koha-devel if you'd like to be considered Documentation Manager Nicole C. Engard <nce@liblime DOT com> from LibLime Interface Design Manager Owen Leonard <> from Zivot Design and Nelsonville PL Translation Manager Chris Cormack <> from Catalyst
  • Other ways it should be happening…. Remember about those cost savings with licensing and software maintenance?...
  • Development is a really good place to reinvest those savings…. [Review each scenario above] This is why I am reluctant to say “an OSLS will save you money” Yes it could But maybe it should just create an opportunity to do better things with that money
  • Horizon consortia in CT 48 public libraries, 20 k-12 schools Installed Koha CONFIGURE Pilot tested at three libraries Identified development requirements Got quote from Liblime ($1.2 million) to things needed on Day One Installed Evergreen CONFIGURE MUCH closer to ready for Day One Created OS ILS team (software coordinator, OS implementation coordinator) (dumped Network Specialist position) Partnering with Equinox, PTFS, ByWaters and KCLS for support and development
  • And more importantly [twins separated at birth]
  • Lots of promise with Open Source. Works for some now but not for others. Full promise can only be realized if we all get involved. PROS / CONS exercise
  • Don’t issue the same old same old RFP RFPs get you what you’ve always gotten: Proprietary ILS Consider: RFP for services only Write the RFP for what you really need Eliminate the RFP entirely
  • Install Koha Install Evergreen Try them out for yourself. Bibliomation: defines functional requirements, define what is needed on day one, see what’s missing in each product, find out what it would cost to develop missing pieces. Talk to other libraries looking at similar options
  • Open Source Library System Software: Free is Just the Tip of the Iceberg

    1. 1. Free is Just the Tip of the Iceberg: Open Source Library System Software Lori Bowen Ayre [email_address] METRO Webinar October 6, 2009
    2. 2. Introducing the OSLS (Open Source Library System)
    3. 3. OSLS Products Currently Available 1 <ul><ul><li>Developed by Georgia Public Library Service for PINES </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Went live in 2007 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Designed for consortia </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developed by Katipo Communications (New Zealand) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Went live in 2000 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Designed for a single library </li></ul></ul>1 Also: NewGenLib, PMB, OPALS, OLE
    4. 4. Koha <ul><li>Installed Base </li></ul><ul><li>Over 1000 libraries internationally </li></ul><ul><li>first US library came online in 2005 (Nelsonville Public) </li></ul><ul><li>Primary market </li></ul><ul><li>Smaller, international, school, special, and public libraries </li></ul><ul><li>Howard County first big public library in U.S. </li></ul><ul><li>Two user groups </li></ul><ul><li>KUDOS (U.S.) </li></ul><ul><li>Kohala (France) </li></ul><ul><li>Developers </li></ul><ul><li>distributed </li></ul><ul><li>80 contributors </li></ul><ul><li>elected development team for each release </li></ul>
    5. 5. Evergreen <ul><li>Installed base: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>102 libraries (94 publics) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>8 of those libraries are not part of consortia </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Primary market </li></ul><ul><ul><li>U.S. public libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><li>User groups </li></ul><ul><ul><li>none </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Development </li></ul><ul><ul><li>primarily Equinox Software, Inc. </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Size Matters? <ul><li>Small libraries may choose Evergreen </li></ul><ul><ul><li>William Jessup University (CA) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Marshall Public Library (MO) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Large libraries and consortia may choose Koha </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Howard County (MD) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>South Central Library System (WI) </li></ul></ul>
    7. 7. Both are FOSS
    8. 8. Open Source Software Licenses <ul><li>GNU GPL </li></ul><ul><li>grants recipients rights to modify and redistribute the software </li></ul><ul><li>derived works must be available under the same license </li></ul><ul><li>BSD </li></ul><ul><li>grants recipients rights to modify and redistribute the software </li></ul><ul><li>derived works must acknowledge the original authors </li></ul>
    9. 9. Both Released under GNU GPL License
    10. 10. Evergreen and Koha are free to download …and always will be
    11. 11. Copyleft ensures freedoms are preserved
    12. 12. ILS vs OSLS
    13. 13. ILS Licenses are …not free
    14. 14. Software Maintenance <ul><li>OSLS: No software maintenance costs, software updates are free to download when you choose </li></ul><ul><li>Proprietary ILS: Vendors charge annually to keep the software up-to-date </li></ul>ILS $55,000 2013 $53,000 2012 $50,000 2011 $47,500 2010 $45,000 2009 OSLS n/a 2013 n/a 2012 n/a 2011 n/a 2010 n/a 2009
    15. 15. Support <ul><li>OSLS support contracts can be negotiated with suitable provider </li></ul><ul><li>Proprietary ILS vendors set annual cost of support and it usually goes UP not down </li></ul>Vendor 25,000 2013 Vendor 23,000 2012 Vendor 20,000 2011 Vendor 17,500 2010 Vendor 15,000 2009 Provider Cost Year ILS Support Consortia 5,000 2013 ByWater 9,500 2012 ByWater 9,000 2011 Liblime 11,500 2010 Liblime 9,000 2009 Provider Cost Year OSLS Support
    16. 16. Support Options for OSLS <ul><li>Equinox Software http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Liblime http:// </li></ul><ul><li>ByWaters Solutions http:// </li></ul><ul><li>PTFS </li></ul><ul><li>Alpha-G (coming soon) http:// / </li></ul>
    17. 17. Consortia Providing Support <ul><li>PINES (Georgia) </li></ul><ul><li>SITKA (BC) </li></ul><ul><li>Michigan Library Consortium </li></ul><ul><li>Northeast Kansas Library System (NEKLS) </li></ul>
    18. 18. State: Evergreen Indiana <ul><li>28 public libraries </li></ul><ul><li>funded by State Library using LSTA grant </li></ul><ul><li>services include: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>purchasing and maintaining the central servers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>personnel costs in operating the system </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>training </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>software development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>data conversion </li></ul></ul>
    19. 19. DIY: Do it Yourself! <ul><li>Evergreen </li></ul><ul><li>William Jessup University (CA) </li></ul><ul><li>Koha </li></ul><ul><li>Viborg Public (SD) </li></ul><ul><li>Hopewell Public (NJ) </li></ul><ul><li>Castleton Free Library (and others in VT) </li></ul><ul><li>Plus lots of other special libraries… </li></ul>
    20. 20. Development!
    21. 21. Customize is not “development”
    22. 22. Development means…. <ul><li>You define requirements </li></ul><ul><li>You select developer </li></ul><ul><li>You define process </li></ul><ul><li>You negotiate a price </li></ul><ul><li>You pay when you have your “deliverable” </li></ul>
    23. 23. New Services! Sweet! My book is ready!
    24. 24. How Development Happens Now <ul><li>Evergreen </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Develop requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contract with provider to ‘start making it so….” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Examples: KCLS (Equinox), Middletown Township (PTFS) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Koha </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Get Scope Analysis (what we need vs. what is currently available in OSLS) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Get quote to fill the gap </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Example: South Central Library System (Liblime) </li></ul></ul>
    25. 25. Next Generation Development Scenarios <ul><li>Co-sponsor development </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ We want this” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ You, too?” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Let’s share the cost” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Share-a-Developer </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consortia hires a programmer </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consortia prioritizes and manages development projects </li></ul></ul>
    26. 26. Development vs. Cost Savings <ul><li>Use money saved in licensing fees to fund big development effort </li></ul><ul><li>Coordinate development efforts with other libraries while reducing annual costs </li></ul><ul><li>Build in-house expertise for development initiatives </li></ul><ul><li>Reduce annual costs dramatically by taking OSLS as it is </li></ul>
    27. 27. Reality Check Notes from the field….
    28. 28. Georgia PINES <ul><li>Shared ILS wasn’t performing as needed </li></ul><ul><li>PINES staff believed they could do better </li></ul><ul><li>Demo’d proof of concept (POC) </li></ul><ul><li>State Library provided additional funds to take the POC further </li></ul><ul><li>It worked. </li></ul><ul><li>Evergreen </li></ul>Example
    29. 29. William Jessup University (CA) <ul><li>Something had to change </li></ul><ul><li>Looked over options </li></ul><ul><li>Looked for OS options first…. </li></ul><ul><li>Library Director, IT Staff and other stakeholders agree to take the plunge </li></ul><ul><li>Went solo (no support) and have been up since 2008. </li></ul>Example
    30. 30. Salinas Public Library (CA) <ul><li>Library short on money and staff </li></ul><ul><li>Koha + Liblime provided the alternative they needed </li></ul><ul><li>Some limitations: No acquisitions – no telecirc – no floating collections </li></ul><ul><li>Biggest challenge: staff acceptance </li></ul><ul><li>Customers love it </li></ul>Example
    31. 31. Evergreen Indiana <ul><li>State Library coordinates effort and pursues LSTA funding </li></ul><ul><li>Equinox helps with migration strategy </li></ul><ul><li>Hussey-Mayfield Public Library agrees to go first </li></ul><ul><li>Soon have a group of 20 pilot libraries that form Executive Committee to develop policies and procedures </li></ul><ul><li>Currently 26 libraries live on Evergreen Indiana (3.5 million circs) – more want in </li></ul>Example
    32. 32. Santa Cruz Public (CA) <ul><li>Strong commitment to OS in other areas </li></ul><ul><li>Evaluate options and choose Koha </li></ul><ul><li>Contract with Liblime even though some key ingredients missing </li></ul><ul><li>No funding available for development of “missing ingredients” </li></ul><ul><li>Standing by…… </li></ul>Example
    33. 33. Bibliomation (CT) <ul><li>Running Horizon – needed to migrate by 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>Strategic plan called for checking out OSLS options </li></ul><ul><li>Tried Koha then pilot tested at 3 libraries </li></ul><ul><li>Costed out development requirements for Koha </li></ul><ul><li>Tried Evergreen </li></ul><ul><li>Extended deadline to 2011 </li></ul><ul><li>Changed staffing </li></ul><ul><li>Costed out development requirements for Evergreen </li></ul><ul><li>Working on development with Equinox, PTFS, and ByWaters </li></ul>
    34. 34. Summary of Benefits <ul><li>No license and software maintenance costs </li></ul><ul><li>No SIP licenses to buy </li></ul><ul><li>Cost savings can be rolled into development and/or staff development </li></ul><ul><li>Can “try” before you “buy” </li></ul><ul><li>Can choose your own provider for support, hosting, migration, development </li></ul><ul><li>Can customize your installation </li></ul><ul><li>Can develop new features and modules </li></ul><ul><li>Easier to integrate with 3P products </li></ul><ul><li>You own the software and your data (forever) </li></ul>
    35. 35. Twins Separated at Birth <ul><li>Both Library and Open Source communities …. </li></ul><ul><li>are committed to free access to information </li></ul><ul><li>believe information is power </li></ul><ul><li>trust and respect the community </li></ul><ul><li>are not big on attaching “price tags” to things </li></ul><ul><li>believe everyone has something important to contribute if given the right opportunities </li></ul><ul><li>seek to empower users </li></ul>
    36. 36. I’m interested in an OSLS! What do I do next?
    37. 37. When you use traditional procurement methods, you get traditional products
    38. 38. Take the Plunge!
    39. 39. Next OSLS Webinar <ul><li>October 13, 2009, Tuesday 2pm-3pm </li></ul><ul><li>“ Libraries Are Doing it For Themselves” </li></ul><ul><li>Learn how to get involved in an OSLS project. </li></ul><ul><li>Hear about OSS4PL and the $1,000,000 “Empowered by Open Source” IMLS Grant awarded to King County Library System that might affect you! </li></ul>