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Open Source in Libraries
edh is scribing!
Kathryn kicks off discussion by asking people what they're using now. Many libraries in KS are using Koha and other open source systems.
NEKLS says that they work with hosting people at LibLime & etc. to maintain and set up libraries.
Diana says that one of the misconceptions about open source is that it's dynamic and constantly changing. Not a product that you just download and it's done - you have to implement patches and roll with the flow of the updates, etc. A disagreement - no, perception that there's no support for you is wrong - there's a LOT out there depending on the application and/or the age of the application.
Josh brings up Ubuntu as an example - if he has a question or a problem, the community usually helps quickly & cheerfully (not like proprietary ware experience with help desks, etc).
Funding - Jim says that it's cost less, even in staffing to switch over to Koha. It's time-consuming, but they're not spending the $$ that they were before on problems with the ILS system. The biggest adjustment is not money, it's attitudes. Lots of libraries are involved where they have to be willing to be flexible and let go of their locally based systems.
You have to stop calling the help line and be proactive in finding your own answers - go out and seek the solutions yourself instead of relying on "learned helplessness."
Kathryn says -do you have to reposition your staff to meet this need?
Yes - people are getting used to looking for answers... even starting to go to Bugzilla!
Josh reminds us that the flexibility you gain in being able to alter the parts of the system and create your own user experience... instead of gritching about paying for a bad user experience.
The products improve over time rather than get more complicated (Vista, anyone?)
Support is coming from libraries all over the globe - but the community isn't totally mature yet, as it's still growing and changing.
NEKLS said that 4 or 5 months into it they were going from migration into long-term support and it turned out that they had to start either paying for support or developing their own solutions. Jim thinks that they're devoting about 2.5 FTE to the project. Could not grow without a more flexible system.
Diana says that the whole philosophy fits in really well with the whole library philosophy.
NEKLS is using a whole bunch of open-source solutions that led into using Koha.
Have been pushing people to use OpenOffice b/c the learning curve is so low and it's FREE.
Moving to office 07 was a radical change and patrons just couldn't master it. Also, staff don't have admin rights on computers to add all the handy plugins in 07, so it's pretty useless. OO opens nearly any file without straining - not something that Microsoft does at all.
Advocating for open source stuff is hard, though. But IT departments don't always agree. And governing agencies aren't sympathetic - look at the NE state auditor mess in trying to understand what libraries are doing these days!!!
People develop open source not for the money, but for the whuffie. Enough said - they are dedicated to making the program work and excel, not motivated by $$$ filthy lucre.
The new presidential team is a great example of embracing open source on many levels - will be interesting to see where they lead over the next four years.
Also, open source threatens people in various ways. What do we do with MS certified professionals now? What if my data lives in the cloud? How secure is everything? etc etc etc
Advice to people thinking of open source - find yourself a good nerd! Get someone obsessed with fiddling and tweaking and change-making. Also - they have to CARE about the library. Get used to leaving "out-of-the-box" solutions behind you. It's almost a return to maker philosophy - you are responsible for change-making, tweaking, creating, and being part of the larger community. You are obligated to contribute.
Look at OCLC!
Is open source compelling? Yes - being in charge, in control of what you want to accomplish and how you want it to go. A dissatisfaction with ILS systems is driving this movement. Firefox is a good gateway - look at how you can customize!!! People like the big E... Heather said that she's faking people out and using the IE icon for Firefox so people can be led there.
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