Well, the morning was thrown into slight disarray by a malfunctioning SEPTA train – no fault to anyone, but it did put me 30 minutes behind schedule and therefore I had to make some choices. After planning out carefully how I could split between Steven Abram’s Spotlight session and Nicole Engard’s Open Source session, I cold only attend one. Knowing that I really wanted to see the end of the Open Source session, where she talks about all of the Open Source tools that are available for libraries, I chose the Open Source session – and it was right next door!
Nicole Engard (@nengard) from Bywater Solutions did her normal wonderful job of presenting many of the Open Source options available to libraries. She talked about how open source can work just as well as proprietary software in libraries and in fact that some of the risks present with proprietary software are alleviated with open source. For example, if your library is using proprietary software you may be asked to store your information on their servers, which means that you no longer have control over the data. What a catastrophe if the company crashes – now your information is locked away and you can’t get at it. With Open Source, you control your information and you maintain control over it. In addition, there are many people out there who are also using the same software who may be able to help you recover that data.
Open Source can also be modified to fit your own needs and you don’t have to write it from the ground up – just pick up a little programming – and hey aren’t we all librarians and information professionals who like to learn? One of the biggest obstacles to Open Source being more widespread is ironically learning. Once technicians spend all this time getting these certifications on proprietary software, they feel like they have to continue to use these programs and languages that they are “proficient” in. It is up to the information professionals to continue to educate our co-workers and hope that it will trickle down/up and convert those who are causing the problems.
The talk was wrapped up from the bottom up – from what you can do on your local workstation all the way up to the tools that can be installed on the web server! For more information on Nicole Engard or to view her slides: http://www.web2learning.net. Her slides from the presentation can be found here