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									                           What is Open Source?
                           -A Bibliomation FAQ-
                                    October 2009

What is Open Source?
Open source software is free software which private individuals or organizations can
download, install, and use. It includes the original source code which can be modified to
suit the user’s needs.
Development of the software is done on a voluntary basis and without charge to users
although some software development has been financed by private, philanthropic or
governmental organizations.
Open source software has been around for a long time now. For instance, the very first
computers to be sold in the 1960s came with free software that could be modified by its

Examples of open source software over the years:

      BSD Unix, Linux (versions of the Unix operating system)
      Netscape, Firefox (web browser software)
      Apache (web server software)
      Spark (instant messaging client used by Bibliomation)
      Wordpress (blogging software)
      Nagios (network monitoring software)

Is Open Source really free?
When you think of open source, think of free, but “free like kittens.” Although the
source code is free, development and user support is not free. When the software crashes,
it's up to the users to get it up and running again. However, support can be arranged with
third-party (for profit) organizations. There are a number of commercial companies that
charge fees for their programming and support services.
The open source license comes with a set of responsibilities. One of those
responsibilities is that if you modify the source code, you are expected to make your
contributions available to the rest of the open source community so that all may benefit
from your efforts.

What is an Open Source ILS?
An open source ILS is software that you can download and install to manage your
library’s various systems – circulation, cataloging, public access catalog, acquisitions,
etc. There are several open source ILS programs that have been developed over the
years, but the two that have garnered the most attention among the library world today
are Koha and Evergreen.

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Koha was first developed in New Zealand and first used in January 2000. It is now used
around the globe. The first installation in the US was at the Nelsonville Public Library,
in Athens County, Ohio. The Athens County systems librarian, Josh Ferraro, decided to
form his own open source support company, LibLime. LibLime is the largest provider
of Koha support in the US, but other companies have emerged in the last year, including
PTFS and By-Water Solutions.
Evergreen was designed by the systems staff at the Pines consortium, in the state of
Georgia. The Pines consortium, made up of 252 public libraries, went live on Evergreen
in September 2006. The original design team for the Pines consortium established
Equinox Software as a separate company that same year. They are the primary providers
of Evergreen support, but have sub-contracted work to PTFS and By-Water Solutions.

What are the advantages of an open source ILS? What are the
Many of the advantages of an open source ILS can also be considered disadvantages.
With open source, Bibliomation can make the programming changes needed ourselves
(or contract with open source support vendors) to improve the overall functionality of our
library automation system. We would be in control. And since the development of open
source software is decentralized, we would need to be very active in following its
development paths.
While some advocates argue that OSS results in cost savings since corporate profit is
eliminated from the equation, others point out that development cost, staffing, and
other support costs will fall to the user community. It's unclear at this time whether
there are real cost savings to organizations like Bibliomation.

Why is did the Strategic Plan commit Bibliomation to a move toward an
Open Source ILS?
If it is not clear that an Open Source ILS will be less expensive than traditional
commercial software, why is the Planning Committee recommending a move in this
direction? The Strategic Plan lists four reasons:
      Open source is more in keeping with the mission of Bibliomation because it is the
       ultimate resource sharing model since software enhancements are developed
       collectively by those using the system;
      Open source allows for local control; open source protects Bibliomation from the
       unpredictability of vendor-owned commercial systems;
      Open source can facilitate greater cooperation among library networks in
       Connecticut and allow for improved interfaces;
      Open source would allow Bibliomation to expand other services.

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