Tuesday, September 05, 2006

I have a confession.

Many of you may be surprised to read this. But my library is moving towards open source. No, not SWOSU -- I'm talking about my temple's library.

OSS software is perfect for libraries on super tight budgets and it requires a minimal learning curve to get it up and running. (Customization is another matter that requires a little larger learning curve)

At TBI we've been automated for some time now. But our "automation" amounted to a catalog located on the "staff" computer and only one person could access it at a time and only when I was there on Sundays -- we really wanted to move our catalog online but didn't have the monies to buy a commercial product. So I started shopping online for OSS software.

I ended up going with OpenBiblio. And even though it's still under development I have to say I'm very happy with it so far. Not only can patrons access the catalog but I can access the admin functions, which include circulation, reports and cataloging functions, all online. I also have the option to customize all wording that appears to the patrons and staff. (Which I access those php files through a free product called Filezilla and edit them through another free product called NoteTab Light.)

I still have to upload the patron data -- and I have tons of cataloging work since many of the records are skeletal and or done by non-librarians. But when you take into account that it took about a week and $90 for me to get 5,349 records up and running it's not that bad. (OpenBiblio is free I did have to pay for the server space and domain registration.) As my SQL and PHP skills develop I know I'll be able to do even more with this system and not have to spend anymore than what it costs to keep the domain and server fees.

Oh! we also have a public pc available in our little library. Even though it runs on Windows we couldn't afford the Windows Office products -- so we went another free route and installed OpenOffice for our users.

How about your libraries? Is your library doing anything with free or OSS software? What about your congregational library? Are you doing anything interesting that the "big boys" could learn from? There's a lot out there to chose from and so much of it does not require you to be an expert at the internets -- just the desire to fill a need.

If you are curious to know more about my adventures in OSS I will be talking a little about them at the OLA/IT workshop coming up -- or shoot me an email and I'll tell you a little more!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great story, ADRI!! Come to the IT Roundtable Workshop, Sept. 21, OKC, Rose State, and meet lots of Tek people who know computers and libraries. (see OLA website for more info) E. Stewart, O.P.S.U.