Running Head: OPEN SOURCE ILS ANNOTATED BIBILOGRAPHY 1 Primer for Open Source Library ILS Systems: An Annotated Bibliography Joshua Johnson Emporia State University Tuesday, July 27, 2010 Submitted as a part of the requirements for Samuel Passey’s LI804 Course
OPEN SOURCE ILS ANNOTATED BIBILOGRAPHY 2 Introduction The annotated bibliography that follows is divided into three sections. The first containsoverviews and introductions to the open source software movement, specifically as it pertains tolibraries and related institutions. It should be noted that many proponents of open sourcesoftware are avid fans of open source. As such, it is important to research software (open sourceand proprietary) carefully and with an eye toward the functionality and features each individualor organization desires. The following sections deal more specifically with (2) choosing and evaluating an opensource integrated library system, and (3) implementing and using open source ILS systems,specifically the two most discussed systems: Koha and Evergreen. Overviews and Introductions to Libraries and Open SourceEngard, N. C. (2010, January 29). Introduction to Open Source for Libraries. Presented at the PLAN, Niceville, FL. Retrieved from http://www.web2learning.net/wp- content/uploads/2006/06/opensource-plan.pdf Engards slide presentation (in .pdf format) gives a good overview of some key questions about what open source software is, a bit about what it isnt, highlights definitions of ambiguous terminology, and gives specific open source software useful to libraries. Specifically, Engard discusses issues of quality control and community as they relate to open source; she also touches on common concerns with open source software like technical and product support, necessary programming skills, lack of features, and fear of risk encountered by libraries and librarians. The library specific open source she discusses are: Ubuntu, Firefox, Greasemonkey, LibX, Zotero, OpenOffice, Scribus, Gimp, Pidgin (Adium), DVD Flick, Libme Survey, WordPress.org, Evergreen, Koha, portableapps.com, and bitnami.org. Engard is decidedly pro-open source, but she gives a wealth of information. The format of her presentation does not include a verbal presentation, but her notes give excellent points (and links to pertinent websites) from which to navigate into various open source software solutions. The strength of her presentation is the detail with which she treats various open source options, as opposed to others in this bibliography (namely Wheeler and Morgan) who speak about open source in positive ways, but who dont mention any particular programming.Morgan, E. L. (2004, December 6). Open source software in libraries / Eric Lease Morgan. Open Source Software in Libraries. Personal, . Retrieved June 11, 2010, from http://infomotions.com/musings/ossnlibraries/ In this work, Morgan draws 4 parallels between librarianship and the development of open source software. To paraphrase them, (1) Both open source software development and librarianship put a premium on open access, (2) Human interactions is a necessary part of the mix, (3) It has been incorrectly predicted that both librarians and programmers would become obsolete, (4) Both institutions use peer-review, a process where "given enough eyeballs all bugs are shallow". To further the strength of his connection between open source software generation and librarians, Moran also agrees with Blake Carver, who modified Ranganathans 5 Laws of library Science into rules for open source software: (1) Software is for use, (2) Every computer its users, (3) Ever reader his source code, (4) Save
OPEN SOURCE ILS ANNOTATED BIBILOGRAPHY 3 the time of the user, and (5) A system is a growing organism. While Morgans enthusiasm for a marriage of libraries and open source and his overview of their similar tenets is instructive enough to make this work a good introduction to open source for libraries, his assessment is perhaps too optimistic to be a fair or thorough assessment of what embracing open source means for librarians and libraries. Those interested in Morgans ideas would do well to temper their (and his) enthusiasm by reading Abrams particularly pessimistic view of open source ILS systems (Integrated Library System Platforms on Open Source) as a counterpoint to Morgan.Pyati, A. (2009). Open Source Software and Libraries. In Information Technology in Librarianship: New Critical Approaches (pp. 205-220). Westport, CT: Libraries Unlimited. Pyatti uses words like "practical" and "applied ideological orientation" to describe the open source movement, as opposed to proprietary software. He discusses the similarities between the culture of libraries and the culture of open source (see also Morgan, "Open Source Software in Libraries," in this bibliography). In a similar vein, Pyatti also speaks of open source software in terms of political activism. Pyatti uses a quote from Raymond that highlights the differences in this work from others in this bibliography. While others tout the "openness" and "freedom" of open source, Pyatti (via Raymond) explains that the openness generates a different business model: "give away the recipe, open a restaurant" (p. 211) - a practice common in open source ILS systems. He then turns more practical and discusses metadata tools, protocols, OPAC/ILS, repositories, public services tools, bibliographic management, and information retrieval in libraries with open source solutions. Specific open source software are discussed (Koha, Evergreen, MyLibrary, reSearcher, PKP, ) with varying degrees of detail. It is important to note that Pyatti discusses both the promise inherent in Open Source software within library communities and the challenges still very evident. This makes Pyatti a studied conservative - as opposed to Morgan, who is perhaps blinded by enthusiasm, and Abram, who may be biased against open source because he works for SyrsiDynix, a proprietary ILS software company.Wheeler, D. A. (2007, April 16). Why Open Source Software / Free Software (OSS/FS, FOSS, or FLOSS)? Look at the Numbers! Why Open Source Software/FreeSofware (OSS/FS, FOSS, or FLOSS)? Look at the Numbers! Personal, . Retrieved July 21, 2010, from http://www.dwheeler.com/oss_fs_why.html Unlike many case studies (referred to as "anecdotes" in his "paper"), Wheeler attempts to emphasize "quantitative measures like market studies and other hard data to make a case for using Open Source Software (OSS) or Free Software (FS). I think the following quote from Wheelers introduction shows the tone of the paper, his apparent lack of bias, and a brief overview of similar literature. Wheeler writes, "I should note that while I find much to like about OSS/FS, I’m not a rabid advocate; I use both proprietary and OSS/FS products myself. Vendors of proprietary products often work hard to find numbers to support their claims; this page provides a useful antidote of hard figures to aid in comparing proprietary products to OSS/FS. Others have come to the same conclusions, for example, Forrester Research concluded in September 2006 that “Firms should consider open source options for mission-critical applications”. It is important to reiterate that this paper is not pro- open source in all instances, it is simply a work designed to show the usefulness and cost- effectiveness of using the best open source software in conjunction with proprietary software. Libraries looking for cost effective software would do well to talk Wheelers approach and research facts and figures regarding Open Source software and compare
OPEN SOURCE ILS ANNOTATED BIBILOGRAPHY 4 results with proprietary software, thereby making and informed decision - rather than relying solely on anecdotal and word-of-mouth reports. Open Source Integrated Library Systems: Listing and EvaluatingAbram, S. (2009). Integrated Library System Platforms on Open Source (Corporate) (p. 11). Provo, UT: SirsiDynix. Retrieved from http://thesecretmirror.com/wp- content/uploads/2010/02/sirsidynix-on-open-source.pdf The core of Abrams message to librarians considering migrating their systems to open source ILS is caveat emptor (let the buyer beware). This report, originally released in- house to some SirsiDynix customers, opened a hornets nest among proponents of open source ILS systems like Koha and Evergreen in particular, and open source advocates in general. Because Abrams report has come under fire, it is good to review a portion of the introduction in his own words that can easily speak for the reports as a whole. "[S]ome buyers ignore some of the most critical facts of their purchases,” he writes, “Today, we see that happening when libraries get into talks about moving their Integrated Library Systems to open source platforms systems...Therefore, to help buyers become aware of the limitations of open source, we set out to clarify what open source is, how it is different from proprietary software platforms, and why Integrated Library Systems (ILS) are not ready for open source at this point" (p. 2). Abrams follows this bold statement with a fairly long list of many major claims made by open source advocates and uses the list to systematically counter each argument, one by one, with reasoning to support selection of a proprietary ILS over the open source options. It is important to note that Abrams is a Vice President for SirsiDynix, one of the largest vendors of proprietary ILS software and his report, while thorough, is quite biased toward proprietary ILS software. The report is included because of the backlash it caused within the open source community and because it shows a very different picture of open source from authors giddy with the promises of open source (see Morgan, "Open Source Software in Libraries"). While Abrams own claims may be suspect, he does make some good points and his list makes a good starting point for libraries evaluating ILS software and support in general.Breeding, M. (2007). An Update on Open Source ILS. Computers in Libraries, 27(3), 27. Breeding gives good historical background, not found in other articles, on prominent open source ILS systems (Evergreen, Koha, and LearningAccess ILS). His frank, succinct lists of pros and cons for implementing open source systems is refreshing and his acknowledgment that open source ILS in libraries is still a very small minority show that he is not an extremist for either camp. It is also important to note that Breeding is one of the more prolific writers on the subject of open source ILS (as the number of time his name appears in this bibliography suggests). This article was included in this bibliography, in part, as a brief introduction/overview. For more depth in all of the subjects herein, see Breedings "Major Open Source ILS Products."Breeding, M. (2008). Major Open Source ILS Products. Library Technology Reports, 44(8), 16 - 31. Breeding, again, provides historical background for major open source ILS products; this time he examines Koha, Evergreen, OPALS, and NewGenLib. This article is an in-depth look at each system including tables, explanations of which system works best with each type of library, and an evaluation of market trends regarding open source ILS in North
OPEN SOURCE ILS ANNOTATED BIBILOGRAPHY 5 America, but with an eye toward international trends. Breeding also deetails key support companies associated with each open source ILS: LibLime for Koha, Equinox Software for Evergreen, Media Flex for OPALS, and Kesavan and Verus Solutions for NewGenLib. Breeding is detailed enough to describe various components and environments (servers, operating systems, etc) used by each open ILS, and gives tables that lay various features of each open ILS next to each other in an easy-to-use format. Breeding is thorough without belaboring the point. He overstate the capabilities of open ILS; rather, he gives straightforward, detailed information about who developed each ILS, what its strengths and weaknesses are, and then compares them to one another with an eye for what different libraries might need in an ILS. (Compare this systematic approach with Abram’s report, whose systematic countering of key arguments for open source ILS is much more biased and less helpful in explaining specific functionality.)Breeding, M. (2009). Opening Up Library Systems. American Libraries, 40(12), 33. Breeding, here, gives us a brief update on open and proprietary ILS options. In this article, he gives us the idea that, while open ILS offer many features and proprietary ILS offers more sophisticaed solutions in some areas, neither opption is ideal. As he says toward the end of the article, "The reality is still a bit messy. The APIs available to library programmers continue to be quirky and less than comprehensive, even from the vendors with the strongest offerings in this area. We can also tell by the information received that vendors and libraries alike see the need to make systems more open. Hopefully, a better reality will evolve over time." This article is a good reality check for both open and proprietary ILS proponents.Goh, D. H., Chua, A., Khoo, D. A., Mak, E. B., & Ng, M. W. (2006). A checklist for evaluating open source digital library software. Online Information Review, 30(4), 360-379. doi:10.1108/14684520610686283 This article does just as the name suggests: Goh and his colleagues gather useful and necessary features for ILS software from various resources and repackage them into a checklist that they use on four different open source Digital Library (DL) Software - CDSware, EPrints, Fedora, and Greenstone. Goh et al. considered content management, user interface, user administration, system administration, and "other" (which included interoperability protocols such as Z39.50, XML, XHTML, GIF, TIFF, JPEG and MARC 21, and system support, such that the system can evolve with the institution without rendering it an island unto itself). From these considerations, they came up with a checklist: (1) Comprehensiveness, (2) Usability, (3)Flexibility, and (4) Expandability. The authors treat open source fairly, with both an understanding of the possibilities inherent in what it stands for and an eye on the problems that open source may generate. One large weakness in this article, with regard to library ILS software, is that the checklist is largely focused on digital library solutions rather than integrated library systems. However, the concepts developed by the authors are easily transferable, with further research and adaptation, to evaluating ILS and other open source systems for use in a wide variety of libraries.
OPEN SOURCE ILS ANNOTATED BIBILOGRAPHY 6 Most Discussed Open Systems (Koha & Evergreen): Implementing and How-ToEngard, N. C. (2010). What I Learned Today… » Publications & Presentations. What I Learned Today. Professional Blog, . Retrieved July 17, 2010, from http://www.web2learning.net/publications-presentations Engards blog, "What I learned today," is a good resource for understanding and implementing open source software. This particular page features presentations shes given to various library communities concerning Koha, Evergreen, social media technologies, Wordpress, and Ubuntu (and others). The site, as a whole, is useful because it It features frequent updates concerning anything open source, libraries, and similar subjects. Engard is certainly pro-open source, and it shows in her blog posts, her presentation, and her overall attitude. However, she does, in her own words, "tell people to judge [open source] software no differently than they do any other software product, look at how it works and how it meets your needs" ("Open Source Culture").GPLS (Georgia Public Library Service). (2008). Welcome: Evergreen open source library system. Evergreen. Organization, . Retrieved June 11, 2010, from http://www.open-ils.org/ Evergreens website boasts a website with a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list, a blog, chat archives, mailing lists, documentation for installing and running Evergreen, a list of blogs about Evergreen, and various download options in reverse chronological order. It is the best resource for librarians and others considering migrating to, installing, and running Evergreen ILS. Evergreen documentation is developed using Wikis, and includes "end-user, system administrator, and software developer materials. It also includes instructions for participation in development of Evergreen and options to see the various milestones Evergreen has had. One of the most unique features is Evergreens chat option. Developers post a chatroom on the Freenode Internet Relay Chat where they "hang out." Evergreens site is, of necessity, biased toward the Evergreen ILS. It does, however, feel less tied to leading development communities than might be expected (see Kohas site and its obvious ties to LibLimes development community). However, this is not to say that PINES, "the First Evergreen System" is not mentioned. Overall, this site is easier to use than the Koha site and offers the best resource for Evergreen ILS installation, maintenance and development.Johnson, B. (2005). Koha: A Newbies Guide. Koha. Personal, . Retrieved July 21, 2010, from http://www.kohadocs.org/newbieguide.html Evergreens website boasts a website with a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) list, a blog, chat archives, mailing lists, documentation for installing and running Evergreen, a list of blogs about Evergreen, and various download options in reverse chronological order. It is the best resource for librarians and others considering migrating to, installing, and running Evergreen ILS. Evergreen documentation is developed using Wikis, and includes "end-user, system administrator, and software developer materials. It also includes instructions for participation in development of Evergreen and options to see the various milestones Evergreen has had. One of the most unique features is Evergreens chat option. Developers post a chatroom on the Freenode Internet Relay Chat where they "hang out." Evergreens site is, of necessity, biased toward the Evergreen ILS. It does, however, feel less tied to leading development communities than might be expected (see
OPEN SOURCE ILS ANNOTATED BIBILOGRAPHY 7 Kohas site and its obvious ties to LibLimes development community). However, this is not to say that PINES, "the First Evergreen System" is not mentioned. Overall, this site is easier to use than the Koha site and offers the best resource for Evergreen ILS installation, maintenance and development.LibLime, & Koha Development Team. (2010). Welcome to koha.org! — Koha - Open Source ILS - Integrated Library System. koha. Organization, . Retrieved June 11, 2010, from http://koha.org/ The Koha website offers the most comprehensive information on installing and implementing its open source ILS. It offers documentation such as reference manuals, how-tos, tutorials, and even news updates. It also showcases various library systems that run Koha so those considering migration to Koha can see what it looks like from a user perspective; LibLime, a partner site, offers demos for librarians thinking of implementing Koha. These show both the OPAC and the staff client and have good functionality; they allow users to test the system in a wide variety of ways, including adding books to the system, looking them up, and so forth. The site also offers multiple downloads that range from "the bleeding edge" to the latest stable releases. Kohas website is, unsurprisingly, biased toward Koha. It is worth mentioning, however, that the site also gives preferential treatment to LibLime because LibLime is the premier developer and maintainer of Koha (see any of Breedings articles for more on this). Kohas website is also clunkier than Evergreens, for example, but this may be because Evergreen is relatively new, and Koha and its site have been around for many years. Even so, this is the best site for researching, installing, and working all of the bugs out of Koha.Sheehan, K. (2010). Loose Cannon Librarian. Losse Cannon Librarian. Professional Blog, . Retrieved July 17, 2010, from http://loosecannonlibrarian.net/ Sheehan is, according to various posts on her professional blog, getting excited about open source. While her blog continues to be about all things technology- and library-related, she has become a good resource when delving into computer technology (open source and otherwise) as it pertains to libraries. She is part of Bibliomations Evergreen project, which is likely the reason why Sheehans blog has only two posts that even mention Koha. This ties in well to a discussion of the sites uses: Sheehan is a great resource for Evergreen open source ILS. She gives tips, hints, and is certainly all for Evergreen. However, Sheehan isnt well versed in Koha, and doesnt seem interested in it. Since she and Engard both work with open source ILS (and each specializes a bit in either Koha or Evergreen systems) their blogs form an excellent resource when used in conjunction with one another; especially since they both work with open source ILS systems and technology on a regular basis and present their findings at conferences as well as online.