Thursday, July 24, 2008

Open Source Integrated Library Management Systems

I necessarily subscribe to a bunch of lists and feeds. The flow can be overwhelming but if you get into a simple scanning routine you notice patterns in the ebb and flow of the communal mind that is the web. In addition I actually talk to you about issues and ideas. For this post I thought I just mention some of the things that have caught my eye/mind recently.

Open Source Integrated Library Management Systems are a key watch topic with QULOC-ICT. The two main systems are Evergreen and Koha the general feeling is that these systems don't have the full range of modules the commercial providers have but they do work. On web4lib there has been a lot discussion not about the software itself but hiring third parties to maintain and develop it.

The software is free but support is not. But, unlike the pricing model the commercial providers use (an annual license/maintenance fee that has no connection with what you actually get, and additional costs for customised development) you negotiate with the third party when you want something done or get quotes from a number of third parties.

Sidebar: Talk to an ex-sales person from one the big ILMS providers and to find some truly bizarre formulas for calculating costs (which are usually manipulated so that a pre-decided on price is the answer): number of campuses, students, staff, books and multiply, divide, add, subtract, sine, cosine, tangent them in an order of their choosing.

Increasingly libraries are dipping their toes in the Open Source Software (OSS) water by using it as an additional layer or view to existing data stores, for example the NLA use of VuFind as an alternative OPAC, Charles Darwin University is experimenting with it as well.

A number of libraries have announced an actual dive into the water. In the last month the following libraries have gone KOHA:
And these libraries have gone with Evergreen recently:
As more libraries move to open source opportunities open up for competitors for Equinox (Evergreen), LibLime (Koha) and Media Flex (OPALS).

We are currently planning to upgrade Horizon to 7.4.1 in the mid-semester break, more information as we approach that period.

Further reading

The JISC review: Library Management Systems: Investing wisely in a period of disruptive change
Library Journal article: Automation System Marketplace 2008: Opportunity Out of Turmoil

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