I'm glad to see some positive responses to this new effort. I know that
Jeff Humphrey knew about oss4lib prior to beginning this and that he has
opened lines of communication with Dan since this discussion started.
Thank you all for your support and encouragement as this new venture begins.
I am a member of a consortium task force that has been evaluating all
sorts of PAC enhancements/front ends, ILS's, and more. Our consortium
is interested in what is happening with OSS in and for libraries, but
are cautious adopters. I continue to notice that many Directors,
front-line librarians, and even systems librarians are unfamiliar with
some of the ramifications and considerations that should be kept in mind
when reviewing FLOSS for implementation. I see lots of interest, but
the level of understanding is still low. It's up to us as IT
professionals (who happen to also be librarians) to help make this
transition easy for them if we expect them to seriously consider using
OSS tools and apps for library purposes.
The standard disconnect between technologists and users continues to be
an obstacle that must be overcome. It's funny because I sent Dan's
article from CIL titled "What Libraries Still Don't Know about Open
Source" to several of our lists on Tuesday. Our members need executive
summaries like KGS writes and introductions like Dan's to help break the
ice. I'm still trying to find a locally hosted wiki package that has an
easy to use interface so the front-line librarians don't balk the first
time they try to use the syntax.
My place of work has used OSS from the beginning and we use it almost
exclusively if we have a choice. However, the folks we support are just
*users* and they most often don't have the programming and coding skills
to modify what they need to make it work locally. But WE do, and that's
our job. I think coders and programmers often can be intimidating to
converse with. Anyone who has joined an established developers forum
will know to what I am referring. The "thread nazi's" on forums make it
hard for n00bs to jump in without getting squashed. I'm not making any
comparisons or allusions here, just talking about the general esoteric
nature of programming and coding communities.
For the lone systems librarian at small institutions with a beginner or
intermediate skill level in programming, a different level of discussion
will be necessary. I also think the average, non-techie librarian would
be more likely to participate in a group where others were at that
level. I haven't participated on oss4lib, so I can't speak to that.
Please don't read more into this than what I am stating.
OSS is not a panacea and comes with it's own set of draw-backs and bugs.
No single software product is perfect, but the freedom to make it your
own, IF you have the skills, knowledge, time, money, and staff, is
incremental to helping libraries transition from a total dependence on
vendor development for our products. I am happy that Liblime is taking
the approach that they have thus far to help libraries transition into
this model. Paying for service rather than the product.
I suppose my point is that catering to various levels of users seeking
information is a good thing and in keeping with the democratic
principles the movement is founded on. I feel that two sites will
likely complement each other. If there is a need being met it will
succeed. If not it will fade away. Such is the way of the net and
technology in general.
*Chadwick J. Seagraves:* M.S.L.S
Library Systems Analyst
Private Academic Library Network of Indiana
Indiana Cooperative Library Services Authority
(317) 298-6570 ext. 116 or (800)-733-1899
6202 Morenci Trail
Indianapolis, IN 46268