Open Source Software Introduction

You may have heard the term open source mentioned many times but are wondering what it really means.  Karen Schneider from Equinox,  the software company that supports the open source ILS Evergreen, presented an excellent introductory Webinar on Open Source software on March 17, 2009. Follow the “Here’s the recording” link. The first 12 minutes are an orientation to the Webinar functions and troubleshooting for the attendees.  Skip forward to get to the content on Open Source.

The Webinar inspired this post and I am highlighting  some important points in the presentation while including my own comments and examples. The five main sections are:

  1. Definition of Open Source
  2. Examples
  3. Reliability and Quality
  4. Cost
  5. Assessment
  6. Question and Answer session

Definition

The definition of open source software is set by the Open Source Initiative and is paraphrased below:

Software that allows its users to access and modify the computer code it was created with and includes licensing that allows it to be freely shared and modified without restriction.

A similar concept exists in the GNU Operating system and the Free Software Foundation who originally developed the concept of free software distribution. The major difference with their license and philosophy is that they choose to emphasize the word “free” and do not accept some license restrictions that open source does.

Examples

  • For more examples fast forward to (33:30) for a list of open source software in libraries – The audio mentions more Continue reading

Using WordPress layered over library Websites

From one of my classmates:

<> In perusing library blogs, I happened upon that of Laura Crossett, a librarian at the Park County Library System in Wyoming.

In her post on Wednesday, May 2, 2007:

usability!

she blogged about using WordPress to create a new, improved version of their longtime, outdated website. With the help of other blogging librarians, she re-did their library site, changing this:
http://will.state.wy.us/park/
To this:
http://www.newrambler.net/wpmu/

It was a stunning change on a shoestring budget. Using WordPress and CSS, she created an open source site, with the inherent flexibility therein, including tagged and tabbed information, a frequently updated RSS feed of news, and multimedia information about the library. She is currently doing usability testing on the new site, and is impressing her supervisors, as well as their visiting sales reps from Thomson Gale.

In this case, open source allowed a library with a constrained budget to innovate. In fact, no extra money for employee time or computer technology was required. Nevertheless, her simple, easy-to-use interface surpasses the navigability of many other sites, including those of better funded libraries.

It is also interesting to note that fellow blogging librarians played a key role in creating this. In this case, a grassroots effort, fundamentally aided by 2.0 technology, helped overcome lacking funds.