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Open-Source Software for Libraries

Library Technology Reports, May/June 2007, Open-Source Software for Libraries Library Technology Reports 43:3 (May/Jun 2007)

"In the 70s, computer users lost the freedoms to redistribute and change software because they didn't value their freedom. Computer users regained these freedoms in the 80s and 90s because a group of idealists, the GNU Project, believed that freedom is what makes a program better, and were willing to work for what we believed in." — "Linux, GNU, and Freedom," by Richard M. Stallman, Free Software Foundation Founder


Casey Bisson, with the help of Jessamyn West and Ryan Eby, reports on open-source software (OSS) and its use and importance in libraries in the third issue of Library Technology Reports in 2007.

In "Open-Source Software for Libraries," Bisson engagingly narrates the history of open source, explains how the OSS "movement" came about, details key players in OSS development, and discusses why and how open source can work for libraries.

Bisson also shares success stories from those in libraries using OSS including:

  • how Thomas Ford Memorial Library in Western Springs, IL, utilized OSS to build its popular and interactive Western Springs History Web site (www.westernspringshistory.org), which utilizes the widely used WordPress platform; and
  • why those at the Meadville (PA) Public Library (meadvillelibrary.org) started using OSS and how the librarians and library staff at that public institution have embraced and benefitted from OSS.

In addition to Bisson's insightful and interesting discussion of OSS, this issue of LTR includes the informative chapter "Open-Source Software on the Desktop," by community technology librarian Jessamyn West. Also, Ryan Eby, "an active member of the Code4Lib community" provides an overview of open-source server applications, including that of ILS apps Koha and Evergreen; digital library and repository software, such as DSpace and FEDORA; and OPAC replacements, such as Scriblio and SOPAC.

About the Authors

Casey Bisson, named among Library Journal's Movers & Shakers for 2007 and recipient of a 2006 Mellon Award for Technology Collaboration for developing Scriblio (formerly WPopac), is an information architect at Plymouth State University. He is a frequent presenter at library and technology conferences and blogs about his passion for libraries, roadside oddities, and hiking in New Hampshire's White Mountains at MaisonBisson.com

Jessamyn West is a community technology librarian and a moderator of the massive group blog MetaFilter.com. She lives in Central Vermont, where she teaches basic computer skills to novice computer users and librarians. She maintains an online presence at jessamyn.com and librarian.net. Her favorite color is orange.

Ryan Eby is active member of the Code4Lib community and spends his days supporting distance learners and online courses at Michigan State University. He blogs at blog.ryaneby.com and can often be found on the #code4lib IRC channel. He enjoys brewing his own beer and roasting his own coffee.

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