Hello, my name is Edward Corrado. I am the UNIX Administrator/Library Systems Manager at Rider University Libraries and the president and co-founder of LUG/IP. In 2003 I was awarded the NJLA-CUS/ACRL-NJ Technology Innovation Award for innovative use of OSS technology at Rider University Libraries. In todays presentation I am going to give an overview of Open Source Library Automation Systems and where they are at today. I am also going to present a little information about some of the various Open Source Library Automation Systems and some of their features. I also will discuss some of the differences between today&apos;s proprietary system closed and open source systems.
Open source doesn&apos;t just mean access to the source code. The distribution terms of open-source software must comply with the following criteria: 1. Free Redistribution 2. Source Code. The program must include source code... 3. Derived Works. The license must allow modifications and derived works, and must allow them to be distributed under the same terms as the license of the original software. 4. Integrity of The Author&apos;s Source Code 5. No Discrimination Against Persons or Groups. The license must not discriminate against any person or group of persons 6. No Discrimination Against Fields of Endeavor (i.e. Commercial use). 7. Distribution of License 8. License Must Not Be Specific to a Product 9. License Must Not Restrict Other Software *10. License Must Be Technology-Neutral
Free Software and Open Source Software are not exactly the same thing but sometimes the terms are used interchangeably. Free Software is a specific type of Open Source Software (OSS). According to the Free Software Foundation, “ Free software is software that comes with permission for anyone to use, copy, and distribute, either verbatim or with modifications, either gratis or for a fee. In particular, this means that source code must be available.” There are 4 criteria for a piece of software to be considered free software. They are: * The freedom to run the program, for any purpose (freedom 0). * The freedom to study how the program works, and adapt it to your needs (freedom 1). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. * The freedom to redistribute copies so you can help your neighbor (freedom 2) . The freedom to improve the program, and release your improvements to the public, so that the whole community benefits (freedom 3). Access to the source code is a precondition for this. Free/OSS licenses promote the sharing of software and code. This leads to a diverse community collaborating to improve the software.
Most Open Source Library Automation Systems are built on a common set of core programs that when combine. These programs are Linux (the O/S), a web server (Apache), a database (MySQL), and a programing language – usually Perl or PHP. When a project uses these programs together it is often referred to as a LAMP product. I&apos;m sure that most people at a Library conference know what a Library Automation System or a Library Management System is. However, I wanted to make sure that it is understood that I am talking about products that are more then just a database of books and also I wanted to note that I may use the terms interchangeably.
There are many reasons why someone who designs a Library Management System (or any other software)might want to release it as open source. One is that they don&apos;t want to be in the business of selling, marketing and supporting the software. Another reason is that the more librarians and programmers that use your system, the more people you will have to upgrade it. One of the major advantages of using a OSS systems is that if development or support of a proprietary system stops, you are out of luck. Having the source available allows any needed action to be taken. One of the developers of Emilda said “The justification to that question is quite simple: Open Source has vision, both to project itself and to the customer”
Why is the OSS model better then the home grown models for systems that libraries used in the past? With the advent of the Internet and cheap personnel computers, programmers can easily “lend” software and parts of code to be used by others These days, commodity software libraries and compilers are free. This allows world-wide collobaration. Many of the building blocks are already there, such as MARC modules, Z39.50 modules, and more. Because it is OSS, many more people from around the world can help make the software better.
Koha claims to have been the first Open Source LMS and it is probably the most developed it was originally developed originally by the Horowhenua Library Trust and Katipo Communications in New Zealand and currently has developers around the world. Translations made (or being made) into German, Polish, French, Chinese, and more. Koha is used around the world including New Zealand, France, Canada and the United States. Koha is under very active development and version 2.0 has just been released. As with many of these systems there is an online demo that you can try
As you can see, Koha has a “Simple Clear Interface for Librarians and Patrons” The search definitions and many of the other functions are easily Customizable. Koha includes 2 levels of Acquisitions. They are Full and Simple. Koha also has a nice Circulation and Member Management module.
This is a basic search screen in the OPAC. As I mentioned the search fields can easily be customized.
Koha has a nice full featured cataloging client. Koha also has rather good support for MARC and you can add and define the fields you wish. Koha was originally designed without MARC records because the library it was designed for didn&apos;t require them. As other libraries began using Koha they wanted MARC. Because Koha is open source they were able to develop MARC and it is now included. The MARC that was originally included was UNIMARC, but Koha also now supports US MARC.
Here is a screen shot of the circulation module. Koha also has a telnet circulation client available. This patron must have returned a book late because he owes 15 cents. You may notice on the bottom that there is a reading record list attached to this patron. This feature can be turned off if your library doesn&apos;t want to keep these records because of privacy or any other concerns.
Emilda is being developed in Finland by a company called Realnode. They started to develop Emilda for a school library system in that country. It is a relative “new comer” in the open source library market compared to Koha. Some of the key features of Emilda include Easy navigation, Books and patron management “panels” (in other words cataloging and circulation). One interesting feature of Emilda includes an Internal messaging system (including group and system-wide messaging). Emilda is mainly built on php, MySQL, XML, Zebra, YAZ, and PERL and is extremely configurable
Here is a screen shot of the Emilda OPAC.
Once you locate the book you want, you can view the MARC record. Because of the use of Zebra, Emilda is 100% MARC compliant. Zebra is a high-performance, general-purpose structured text indexing and retrieval engine. It reads structured records in a variety of input formats (eg. email, XML, MARC) and allows access to them through exact boolean search expressions and relevance-ranked free-text queries.
As you can see here, I was adding the book “The art of UNIX Programming by Eric Raymond to the database when I took this screenshot.
phpMyLibrary is a PHP MySQL Library automation application. The program consist of cataloging, circulation, and the web opac module. The programs also has an import export feature. The program strictly follow the USMARC standard for adding materials. As the name suggests, this software uses php and MySQL. It can run on a variety of operating systems including MacOS X, Windows, and Linux. While there have been test installs of up to 500,000 items most of the sites that are s=using it have under 25,000 items.
PhpMyLibrary has cataloging , circulation, and a webOPAC module. Here is the opening screen to PhpMyLibrary.
As you can see here we have found a record in PhpMyLibrary and are now looking at its MARC record.
OpenBiblo strives to be an easy to use, open source library management system. It requires PHP, MySQL, and Apache and has been installed on Windows and Linux. This is what I use for my Linux Users group’s library. There are apparently two separate OpenBiblio projects out there. The one at obiblio.sourceforge.net is the one I reviewed. The other one, at http://openbiblio.sourceforge.net/ was not updated for a while but the original author has just announced on his website that he is going to start developing it again.
Here is the Result of a search in the OPAC.
Here we see the patron record of Froddo Baggins. Froddo must not have made it back from his adventure yet because he doesn&apos;t have any books checked out.
On this screen we are editing the book “UNIX shells by exampls” - which incidentally is a very good book. In this case I am editing using the basic screen, but you can see if you look at the left hand menu that OpenBiblio also has a MARC edit screen. If you look towards the top you will notice that this product also has library administration and reporting functionality.
Peter Schlumpf started developing Avanti MicroLCS in 1998. While it has been a slow process, Peter is just about to release version 1.0 RC4 which should be soon followed by the 1.0 Release. Avanti is different from the other systems in that it is written in 100% pure Java. This was done in part so that Avanti would be platform independent. One of the major goals of Avanti is to be a system that requires minimal expertise to install and manage. While Avanti is not nearly as full featured as some of the other systems I wanted to include it because of Peter Schlumpf&apos;s unique vision and design of Avanti. Avanti takes a unique approach to the design of library systems. At the beginning of the project, Peter some core principles to the development process of Avanti were outlined. They include: 1. Keep development open: all source code and documentation. 2. Encourage simple solutions and avoid unnecessary complexity. 3. Choose a small set of basic well established technologies (like Java and TCP/IP) and develop at a low level. This reduces overall system complexity and avoids getting stuck in paradigms, or becoming dependent on the technology du jour. 4. Seek new and non-traditional approaches to solving problems in library automation
Phpmybibli is an interesting product that was developed in France. All of their web pages are currently only available in French which is a problem for someone like me that doesn&apos;t know French but appears to be a good product and has some features that makes it stand out. One of these is periodicals management. Periodicals management is one thing that must of the OSS Library Systems doesn&apos;t have. This is probably because journals are very problematic and even some of the most developed commercial systems do not handle serials very well. Gnuteca is from Brazil OPALS-NA is a modifed version of Koha being used in a piolt project in the Broome-Tioga School Library System LearningAccess ILS - Open Source Integrated Library System. Not much info available. This was the former OpenBook project. Apparently in use at University of Texas Austin Astronomy Library The Virtual Data Center (VDC) is an OSS digital library system &quot;in a box&quot; for numeric data.
One of the question people new to Open Source software often asks is where can you get support. In the open source library automation world you probably have more options then with the priporotery systems. With the propierotory systems you are almost always locked into the one vendor you bought the systems from. With OSS systems you can hire outside commerical support, oftern even from the people who developed it. Also, developers are usually more then willing to share information for free You can also count on very good community support on e-mail lists, news groups, and IRC channels. Of course, you can also provide the support yourself if you know a little bit about the programming language the system you want to use is written in..
It is very hard to generalize what the differences are between the OSS and proprietary Library Management Systems are. This is in part because it can vary greatly between what systems you use. Lets face it, Caspr&apos;s Library World software does not have exactly the same features as Endeavor&apos;s Voyager or Innovative’s Millenium. However in my resaerch I have found the following themes that seem to come out. Typically, the Open Source LMS&apos;s are not as complex. Also, almost all modules are always completely web based, not just the OPAC. Open Source systems are much easier to evaulate because you can install them and use them for as long as you want for free.
In conclusion, I think that Open Source Library systems are an interesting trend. While I do not feel that any of the systems currently available are well-suited for todays Academic library that could very well change in the future. I do think, however, that these systems could feel right at home at a small public, school, or special library – especially if the organization has some technical expertise. For the most part, installing the systems here was not trivial but also it was not so hard that an experienced UNIX or Linux administrator would have too hard of time. At this point, the different OSS systems have their different strong points but I really think the first two I discussed are the ones to keep your eyes on them – esp. Koha. Does anyone have Any Questions?
Library Automation Systems
Internet Librarian 2004
November 16, 2004
Edward M. Corrado
Rider University Libraries
Definitions: Open Source Software
Open Source Software
A specific set of
Open Source doesn't
just mean access to the
source code. That is an
important part of it,
but not all of it.
Definitions: Free Software
Free Software “is
software that comes
with permission for
anyone to use, copy,
and distribute, either
verbatim or with
gratis or for a fee. In
particular, this means
that source code must
Definitions/Examples of Free/Open
System / Library
Why Do People Release Their LMS
as Open Source Software?
Don't want to be in the business of
marketing/selling/supporting a LMS
“Future proofed” against company going out of
The more librarians and programmers around that
work on/with your LMS, the better it becomes
“The justification to that question is quite simple:
Open Source has vision, both to project itself and
to the customer”
How is this different from the
“Home Grown” LMS of the past
Programmers can “lend” programming material
“Commodity” software libraries and compilers
are available at no cost
Many building blocks are already completed and
waiting to be used
Because it is Open Source, many “eyes” from
around the world can work to improve the
First Open Source LMS
Developed originally by the Horowhenua Library
Trust and Katipo Communications
Currently has developers around the world
Translations made (or being made) into Polish,
French, Chinese, and more.
Koha is used around the world
Under active development (ver. 2.0 just released)
Developed in Finland by Realnode
Uses mainly PHP, MySQL, XML, Zebra, Yaz,
Released under GNU GPL
100% MARC compatible using Zebra
Customizable template based layout
Developed in the Philippines
“Strictly follows US MARC standard”
Test installs with up to 500,000 items
OpenBiblio is an easy to use, open source,
automated library system
Requires PHP, mySQL, and a web server
Runs on Windows and Linux
OPAC, circulation, cataloging, reporting, and
staff administration functionality
Developed by Peter Schlumpf (starting in 1998)
Release 1.0 just around the corner (coding done,
just working on packaging and documentation)
100% pure Java
Goal is a system that requires minimal expertise
to install and manage
Other OSS LMS
Gnuteca – A Brazilian OSS LMS
OPALSNA – Open Source Library Automation
System – North America
LearningAccess ILS Open Source Integrated
There are also OSS digital library projects such
as Greenstone and one designed just for data
called Virtual Data Center.
Support for your Open Source
Library Management System
Commercial support is available
– Email lists
– IRC channels
Differences between OSS and
Hard to generalize, but.....
OSS LMS are not as complex
OSS LMS modules are mostly web based
OSS LMS are easier to evaluate
Differences between OSS and
OSS LMS are easier to customize (including
Proprietary LMS normally has more features
OSS LMS have more flexible support options
Open Source Library Automation
Systems: Q & A
Edward M. Corrado
Rider University Libraries