[okfn-discuss] ASIS&T Bulletin on libraries and open source

Jonathan Gray jonathan.gray at okfn.org
Fri Dec 12 13:29:43 GMT 2008


---------- Forwarded message ----------

Recently I had the privilege and honor to be the special editor for
the ASIS&T Bulletin on the topic of open source software. [1] There
you will find six articles describing open source software
particularly as it relates to libraries. The articles include:

  1. Scot Colford's "Explaining Free and Open Source
     Software," in which he describes how the process of using
     open source software is a lot like baking a cake. He goes on
     to outline how open source software is all around us in our
     daily computing lives. [2]

  2. Karen Schneider's "Thick of the Fray" lists some of the
     more popular open source software projects in libraries and
     describes how these sorts of projects would not have been
     nearly as feasible in an era without the Internet. [3]

  3. Marshall Breeding's "The Viability of Open Source ILS"
     provides a balanced comparison between open source software
     integrated library systems and closed source software
     integrated library systems. It is a survey of the current
     landscape. [4]

  4. Bob Molyneux's "Evergreen in Context" is a case study
     of one particular integrated library system, and it is a
     good example of the open source adage "scratching an itch."

  5. "The Development and Usage of the Greenstone Digital
     Library Software,"  by Ian Witten provides an additional
     case study but this time of a digital library application.
     It is a good example of how many different types of
     applications are necessary to provide library service in a
     networked environment. [6]

  6. Thomas Krichel expands the idea of open source software
     to include open data and open libraries. In "From Open
     Source to Open Libraries," you will learn that many of the
     principles of librarianship are embodied in the principles
     of open source software. In a number of ways, librarianship
     and open source software go hand-in-hand. [7]

Open source software is about quite a number of things. It is about
taking more complete control over one's computer infrastructure. In a
profession that is a lot about information, this sort of control is
increasingly necessary. Put another way, open source software is about
"free." Not free as in gratis, but free as in liberty. Open source
software is about community -- the type of community that is only
possible in a globally networked computer environment. There is no way
any single vendor of software will be able to gather together and
support all the programmers that a well-managed open source software
project can support. Open source software is about opportunity and
flexibility. In our ever-dynamic environment, these characteristics
are increasingly important.


[1] Whole issue - http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-08/
[2] Colford - http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-08/DecJan09_Colford.html
[3] Schneider - http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-08/DecJan09_Schneider.html
[4] Breeding - http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-08/DecJan09_Breeding.html
[5] Molyneux - http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-08/DecJan09_Molyneux.html
[6] Witten - http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-08/DecJan09_Witten.html
[7] Krichel - http://www.asis.org/Bulletin/Dec-08/DecJan09_Krichel.html

Eric Lease Morgan
Head, Digital Access and Information Architecture Department
Hesburgh Libraries, University of Notre Dame

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