18 Jan 2012

Open Source Software in Libraries

This site is useful for anyone entertaining the idea of injecting Open Source software into their library. Valid questions that need answering include whether Open Source software is an option in the first place with regard to the availability of in-house expertise that can support the same. Also, is the route of Open Source cost efficient compared to propriety software? What other factors count when considering Open Source?

There are a bunch of handy decision support tools leading one along the way:
  1. Control versus responsibility: a survey tool  = it will help you determine the degree you wish to participate and use Open Source software; it will help you determine the degree you want support hardware and software needs locally or remotely.
  2. Questions for a library's parent IT organisation =  self-examination tool that will help you figuring out what expertise is required to support Open Source in-house (whether through dedicated IT dep. or library)
  3. Costs of Open Source software tool = mmmh, that's an important one alright. How much does it cost (time and effort to maintain a particular technology effort)
The three tools are helpful in establishing the facts and realities on the ground before marching into a potential technology quagmire...

The site also provides a handy list of Open Source software packages explaining their purpose and what needs-gaps they plug. For example, LibraryH3lp is listed there, which is a web-chat/IM patron queuing system that delivers an integrated virtual help-desk/reference system. The service is used at our place to great effect, and students have come to appreciate it greatly. It was also quite straight forward enough to get it up and running...

1 comment:

  1. Some great packages listed there - now to decide if they are worth the investment!