Of Dodos, 'Karma' & Free Software in the Library


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My presentation at Librarians' Day 2012 Seminar on "Modernization of Libraries using Open Source Software" at BC Roy Memorial Library, IIM Calcutta.

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Of Dodos, 'Karma' & Free Software in the Library

  1. 1. Of Dodos, Karma & Free Software in the Library By Indranil Das Gupta L2C2 Technologies indradg@gmail.com Licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA-NC) Librarians Day 2012, B C Roy Memorial Library, IIM Calcutta
  2. 2. Who am I➢ Indranil Das Gupta aka IDG aka indradg➢ Active computing technology enthusiast and user since 1987➢ Started using GNU/Linux circa 1995➢ Founder of Calcutta Linux Users Group – 1998➢ Founder Member of Ankur Bangla Group (L10N)➢ Project Co-Lead OpenOffice.org Bengali Native Lang Project➢ Associated with Library Automation/Digitization – 2004➢ Technology Lead for TL-170 Project under WBPUBLIBNET➢ Interested in mass-scale ICT mobilization and rollouts using Free/Open Source Software
  3. 3. "The time has come," the Walrus said,To talk of many thingsOf shoes and ships and sealing-waxOf cabbages and kingsAnd why the sea is boiling hotAnd whether pigs have wings." “The Walrus and The Carpenter” by Lewis Carroll
  4. 4. A profession under threat?● Lack of footfalls / dwindling readership● Lack of funds● Lack of adequate trained staff● Google
  5. 5. Dead as the “Dodo”? The Dodo (Raphus cucullatus) - a flightless bird that was endemic to Mascarene Island of Mauritius is considered to have gone extinct by late 17th Century
  6. 6. Dead as the “Dodo”? NOT QUITE! Because WE can ADAPT Because WE can EVOLVE
  7. 7. But we must never be like this bird!!!
  8. 8. But we must never be like this bird!!!
  9. 9. Ranganathans Laws in the age of Web 1931 - Ranganathan 2004 - Alireza Noruzi ● Books are for use. ● Web resources are for use. ● Every reader his [or her] book. ● Every user has his or her web resource. ● Every book its reader. ● Every web resource its user. ● Save the time of the reader. ● Save the time of the user. ● The library is a growing organism. ● The Web is a growing organism. 2008 - Carol Simpson ● Media are for use. ● Every patron his information. ● Every medium its user. ● Save the time of the patron. ● The library is a growing organism.
  10. 10. Free Software – disruption at work? FREE MUFT MUKT LIBRE
  11. 11. A Few Free Software Myths● Free & Open Source Software is NOT commercial software● There is NO license involved● Free software is cheap and there is no need to pay anyone Annada Shankar Ray (1904-2002)
  12. 12. A Few Free Software Myths SELF STUDY VS TUTOR LEAD SESSIONS
  13. 13. Fallacy of FOSS uptake In India● The habit of looking at FOSS as an endless well to draw from● Little active contribution (This is beginning to change in the last couple of years)● The constant worry of livelihood● Tendency of creating ivory towers● Isolated islands of development● Reluctance to share knowledge● Lack of inter-disciplinary approach
  14. 14. It aint same as rice transplantation
  15. 15. We have to LOCALISE!
  16. 16. Free Software around the Library● ILS - Koha, NewGenLib● Institutional Repo - DSpace, Fedora, GSDL● OPAC Search / Portal engines – VuFind● Full-text indexing / search – Apache Solr, Lucene, IndexData Zebra● User Access Stations – Thin-Clients, Zero-clients, LTSP etc● Network Printer Management – PyKota● Network and Infrastructure services – Email servers, SMS Gateways, RFID Integration points, (Streaming) Media Servers
  17. 17. Free Software and the problem of plenty● Often there are too many options available● The thumb rule of FOSS software selection – Check for user traction – the mark of product maturity – Does it have an active user community – What is the frequency of public releases – Are the developers usually available online – How extensive is the documentation? – Is it up-to-date with the software? – And last but not the least is the code well-documented
  18. 18. Free Software is commercial● Interesting Factiod on Koha – all major development milestone were commercially funded – The original development and release – MARC21 support – Unimarc support – z39.50 support – Enriched OPAC support – Barcode generation support Nearly every major feature has been customer-funded.
  19. 19. Ubuntu and Your KarmaLaunchpad is a software collaboration platform thatprovides: 28,797 projects, Bug tracking 10,27,596 bugs, Code hosting using Bazaar 5,29,964 branches, Code reviews 19,49,152 translations, Ubuntu package building and hosting Translations 2,04,122 answers, Mailing lists 45,567 blueprints, Answer tracking and FAQs and counting... Specification tracking
  20. 20. Karma is NOT living off what you did YESTERDAY● Like “recurring deposit” - more you do, more you grow● Like mobile “top-up” - re-charge from time to time or your Karma balance goes down over time.● Higher the Karma → Greater Visibility in Project → Greater responsibility → PROJECT LEADERSHIP
  21. 21. Karma means EVERYTHING counts● Did you write a tutorial based on your experience?● Did you find a bug and report it?● Did you fix a bug and posted the solution?● Did you help in brainstorming a project?● Did you answer new users questions on mailing lists?● Did you design logo and artwork?● Did you help maintain the website?● Did you organise a local event around the project?● Did you translate the project into your own language?● Did you code?
  22. 22. Karma means even the squirrel is credited
  23. 23. Quantify and Qualify● Theory vs Practice● Evaluate and analyse needs● Remove “I think” loops by depending on survey data● Build quick prototypes for testing● Build to solve, not for perfection● Watch the in-coming data patterns● Re-evaluate and re-build “The Library is a growing organism” - S.R. Ranganathan
  24. 24. Quantify and QualifyDSpace usage summary for last 12 months at State Central Library, West Bengal
  25. 25. Quantify and QualifyDSpace usage summary for last 12 months at State Central Library, West Bengal
  26. 26. Quantify and Qualify “Every reader his [or her] book” S.R. RanganathanSCL DSpace e-Book cited in Wikipedia Article reference
  27. 27. Quantify and Qualify “Every book its reader” S.R. RanganathanDSpace top 20 search keywords April 2012, at State Central Library, West Bengal
  28. 28. Staffing issues in Libraries● Over-burdened Library personnel● Under-staffed – Use technology to remove monotonous activities – Thinking outside the box to bring in BPR – Volunteers● Outsource● Crowdsource
  29. 29. Crowdsourcing!“Gayatri” mantra of Free Software
  30. 30. The Collaborate, Build, Deploy, Evolve Cycle
  31. 31. But we are NOT Programmers!● You are absolutely correct!● A majority of developers of Koha hold advanced LIS degrees● Only 5% of LIS professionals dabbling with coding would be good enough● What about the rest ? USERS → Power Users
  32. 32. An OPAC in hand, is worth 2 on a desk
  33. 33. An OPAC in hand, is worth 2 on a desk
  34. 34. Scan a Barcode Anywhere
  35. 35. Scan a Barcode Anywhere
  36. 36. Scan a Barcode Anywhere
  37. 37. Scan a Barcode Anywhere
  38. 38. Stealing a few ideas from Free Software● Adopt an open-source model for collaboration● Collaborative Catalog Creation using tools that work like Pootle, but with catalog data – Create → Check → Sign-off → Accepted Metadata● Collaborative Enriched OPAC content Creation – Emulate the Project Gutenberg model ● Scanning / Mega-pixel photography using digicams ● Conversion to textual meta-data ● Image correction – skew, resolution etc ● Checking and Sign-off process
  39. 39. Stealing a few ideas from Free Software● Create pro-bono voluntary support clusters – Emulate Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) – Extensively use Social Media and mobile phones● Work as much or as little as you can afford to.● Emulate the online document-sharing site Scribd.com – The principle of quid-pro-quo (reciprocity) – Paid model
  40. 40. Stealing a few ideas from Free Software● Do not wait for a perfect product/ product-feature – Create public-facing web interfaces for early feedback – You may even gain unexpected collaborators● Release Early, Release Often – “With enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” - Linus Law● Paid support where needed.
  41. 41. Closing words...Let us not make that mistake. Period!