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Open Source Integrated Library Systems

Open Source Integrated Library Systems by Marshall Breeding

"A thorough process of evaluating an integrated library system (ILS) today would not be complete without also weighing the open source ILS products against their proprietary counterparts." — Chapter 4, "Open Source Integrated Library Systems""As libraries make decisions about what software to use when automating their operations, it is vital for decision-makers to have a solid grasp of the available options," notes Marshall Breeding in the final 2008 issue of Library Technology Reports, "Open Source Integrated Library Systems."

In this issue, Breeding details the differences between using an open source approach to that of using conventional proprietary software for automated operations.

"In the past, our options were differentiated on the basis of features, functionality, price, and performance of the software and the perceived ability for a given company to develop its products into the future and provide adequate support. Do these factors differ with open source ILS products?"

Breeding's report can help answer that question as well as defines open source and provides an overview of the various open source options currently available to libraries, including Koha and Evergreen.

In this eighth issue of Library Technology Reports in volume 44, you'll find:

  • Open source defined and a look at open source versus traditional licensing.

  • "The Commercial Angle," including total cost of ownership, vendor/product independence, and information about collaborative and sponsored development.

  • An overview, including history and background, of major open source ILS products, with information about Koha, Evergreen, OPALS, and NewGenLib.

  • Trends in open source ILS adoption, including geographic impact, licensing, and distribution.

  • An overview of commercial support firms — including LibLime, Equinox Software, Media Flex, Versus Solutions, and Index Data — for open source ILS

  • Specifications for the technology components of an open source ILS, including the server operating system, Web servers, database engines, programming environments, and client environments.

  • Information about standards as well as features and functionality of open source ILS, including the scope of the ILS; support for consortia; and information about the online catalog, circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, and serials control in the ILS.

About the Author
Marshall Breeding serves as the Director for Innovative Technology and Research at the Vanderbilt University Libraries in Nashville, Tennessee. He has authored several previous Library Technology Reports' issues, including: "Electronic Security Strategies for Libraries"; "Strategies for Measuring and Implementing E-Use"; "Integrated Library Software: A Guide to Multiuser, Multifunction Systems"; "Wireless Networks in Libraries"; "Web Services and the Service-Oriented Architecture"; and "Next Generation Library Catalogs."

Breeding is also a contributing editor to Smart Libraries Newsletter, published by ALA TechSource, and has authored the feature "Automated Systems Marketplace" for Library Journal for the last six years. His column "Systems Librarian" appears monthly in Computers in Libraries magazine.

A regular on the library conference circuit, Breeding frequently speaks at Computers in Libraries, Internet Librarian, and other professional gatherings throughout the United States and internationally. He is a regular panelist on the LITA Top Technology Trends panel at the ALA Annual and Midwinter conferences. Breeding created and maintains the Library Technology Guides Web site at For more information or to contact the author, see

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