Open Source Issue of Computers in Libraries (March 2008)

De Groff, A. (2008). Using Open Source to Give Patrons WHAT THEY WANT. Computers in Libraries 28(3): 6-10, Retrieved March 13, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

(2008). The Community Behind the Code. Computers in Libraries 28(3): , Retrieved March 13, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Balas, J. L. (2008). Open Source Becomes More Accessible. Computers in Libraries 28(3): 32, Retrieved March 13, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Breeding, M. (2008). Making a Business Case for Open Source ILS. Computers in Libraries 28(3): 36-39, Retrieved March 13, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Chudnov, D. (2008). What Librarians Still Don’t Know About Open Source. Computers in Libraries 28(3): 40-43, Retrieved March 13, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

Gordon, R. S., & West, J. (2008). What Can Open Source Do for You?. Computers in Libraries 28(3): 44-45, Retrieved March 13, 2008, from Academic Search Premier database.

These recently published articles in Computers in Libraries could be useful to someone in the library community who wishes to get a quick glimpse at some of the uses of OSS in libraries, as well as some of the arguments for and against. The very fact that such a substantial part of this issue is devoted to OSS is indicative of how prevalent at least some of these solutions have become in libraries.

In his aptly called “What Librarians Still Don’t Know About Open Source,” Chudnov graciously alerts us to the one phrase one should be sure to retain from his article: “FLOSS provides the freedom to run, study, adapt, improve, and redistribute software.” I certainly find this description of OSS (or FLOSS) freedom more useful than Gordon & West’s, who assert that the “free” in free software is like in “free kittens”. They do however present a tidy list of OSS offerings that they believe are ripe, or accessible to all libraries. This list includes Firefox add-ins such as Check4Change and Accessibar, OCLC Link Evaluator and Greasemonkey scripts. WordPress, Drupal and Ubuntu also get a nod.

Chudnov, knowing his audience, makes a point of reminding readers that using OSS software does not have to mean doing all the customization in-house. He lists examples of vendors who provide OSS software along with fee-based service. He also recommends understanding the concepts around OSS in order to gain more leverage when negotiating with vendors, even when it comes to proprietary software — i.e. adding a clause that requires the vendor to hand over the code should the product be discontinued.

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