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Open Source Public Workstations in Libraries


In a time where an economic downturn and concerns about climate change are influencing decisions, many libraries are looking for ways to save money and to reduce their impact on the environment. This report provides detailed information about the operating systems, software, and approaches used by three libraries and one academic institution that have implemented open source public workstations. It explains how open source operating systems and applications, when installed on appropriate hardware, can decrease power utilization while providing a reliable and satisfying customer experience. It will help library decision makers who want to find out about alternatives to Microsoft Windows–based PCs running Microsoft Office, not only as a means of  cutting costs or reducing a carbon footprint, but also as a means of providing a better experience for library customers.

-John Houser

In this issue of Library Technology Reports, open source software expert John Houser explores the potential benefits of open source workstations for libraries. Houser goes in-depth with his case studies, exploring open-source implementations in several public libraries, tracking their success and exploring the implications for the profession as a whole.

About the Author
John Houser served as Senior Technology Consultant for PALINET from 2006 through 2009. His responsibilities included enhancing PALINET's role as a leading technology advisor through awareness building, training, and consulting. He also facilitated implementation of new technology tools, methods and resources for members in areas like open source software, digitization and digital library development, portals and federated searching, institutional repositories, and e-content management. John's most recent prior position was Director of Information Systems at VTLS Inc, where he designed and coded that company's internal management system and the reporting module for their flagship product. Previously he ran the Information Systems Department at the Detroit Public Library, and was also a Systems Librarian at UCLA. John holds an MILS from University of Michigan, and a BA from Grinnell College, IA.