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VALENJ: Koha Open Source Library System

Mar - 14 - 2008
Nicole C. Engard

Next up, LibLime‘s Joshua Ferraro. Josh talked to us about why LibLime was started and what both LibLime & Koha could do for libraries.

Joshua Ferraro
Originally uploaded by nengard

Why start LibLime?

Josh would often hear librarians saying that they liked the idea of open source, but we have no way to support it. So, Josh started LibLime to offer libraries support for open-source software in hopes that once the company was started that particular objection would disappear.

How LibLime Works

Open-source software is freely avaiable for download on the web – so why do we need LibLime? Like many other open source products (Linux for example) there are commercial entities that offer services for the software in question. LibLime is around to assist libraries in data migration, hosting, development, customization, training and support.

LibLime offers services for multiple open-source products. The key product to this day’s event was Koha, an open-source library system. As a customer of LibLime, ultimately you steer development for the system – if someone sponsors a change or upgrade, it gets rolled right back into the community – meaning we all benefit from each other’s participation. Another great thing about open source solutions like Koha is that implementation of these upgrades usually happen in days and week instead of years and decades (like some proprietary packages).

Has LibLime Worked?

Ask anyone in an open-source company and they’ll tell you that they’re very busy (I’ll tell you that I’m very busy!). In 2005, LibLime had 1 employee and 1 customer, as of March 2008, they have 18+ employees, hundreds of customers – a 400% growth (compounded for 3 years).

Customers are getting actively involved in the process. Freedom to innovate gives us a chance to change the culture in our libraries – we have become used to living in a culture of work arounds (us working around the way our software products are built) – open source gives us the chance to actually have software do what we want!

Conclusions

Josh mentioned that librarians often ask him, “Isn’t open source risky?” Josh answers “Isn’t any decision you make on an ILS risky? Especially in this environment with vendor consolidation – etc etc?” I totally agree – who knows where your ILS will be next year – or who will be controlling the development and the money! Why not have a product you can take with you to whomever you’d like as the landscape changes?

I have heard Josh speak several times – obviously – so I already knew I’d like this talk and agree with him – based on the question and answer session that followed his talk, I think others felt similarly.

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2 Responses so far.

  1. [...] they found that they were writing their policies around the system (once again a reference to the culture of work arounds). In the end they had a bunch of silly policies such as how to enter a person’s name (last, [...]

  2. [...] of money being thrown into proprietary systems that are fostering the culture of work arounds that Josh mentioned, and then you see what that same money can do in the open source environment, it’s amazing!! [...]


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