open source community

Building capacity to enable open source solutions to flourish the HE library community. Want advice on where to go for development resources or help with installing products?

a JISCMail list, LIS-OSS,
The list was set up in February 2011 has for discussion of open source software in libraries.

Free/Open Source software for libraries
With the financial support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, LYRASIS Technology Services offers a suite of tools to help you answer these questions.
Is open source software right for my institution?
Do we have the necessary skills/support to run open source software?
Would it be cheaper or more expensive to use open source software?
What open source software package fits my requirements?

Open Source ILS
This website (established September 2012) offers a starting point for librarians interested in Open Source Integrated Library Systems. The website is the product of a multi-year IMLS grant-funded study of technical support options for proprietary and open source ILS. It offers best practices gleaned from interviews with open source ILS adopters on subjects such as evaluating, migrating to, and customizing and maintaining these systems.The website consolidates resources on systems such as Evergreen and Koha. Unfortunately, the site misrepresents the vendor marketplace and has been criticized by many in the Koha community in particular.

Open Source background

blog posts

The Benefits of Open Source for Libraries
By Ben Showers. Jisc 10 September 2013
From the post:
What are the main benefits to the library of adopting open source? There are some well known benefits that open source could bring to libraries, these include:
Lower costs: Open source offers a lower total cost of ownership than traditional library systems. There are none of the traditional license costs associated with open source. Libraries are able take advantage of the reduced costs the cloud offers by reducing local support and hosting costs (if it is supported and hosted by a third party).
No lock-in: Libraries are, in a sense, removed from the traditional lock-in associated with library systems. There is a greater opportunity to pick and choose components, and take advantage of what is, generally, better interoperability with open source solutions. Related to this is also the idea that open source is more sustainable: If a vendor goes out of business the software may disappear or be sold-on. With open it is always available, and there is usually a community involved in it to continue its development.
• Adaptation and Innovation: Connected to the above is the greater capacity that libraries have to innovate with open systems and software. There is no need to await the next update or release, instead in either isolation or collaboratively, can develop the functionality required. This enables much more agile services and systems, as well as ensuring user expectations are exceeded.
• A richer library systems ecosystem: A less direct impact of open source is a richer library systems ecosystem. This is both in terms of the library solutions available (a healthier marketplace with both proprietary and open solutions) and in terms of collaboration and engagement between libraries themselves. Libraries are able to collaborate and share code on the functionality and fixes they require. Indeed, there are open source systems such as Evergreen, which were developed as an open source library system for a consortial approach.

While these benefits are the headline grabbing ones, it might be argued there are more subtle, but none the less powerful benefits in the adoption of open source in libraries, especially within higher and further education. There are broader trends and themes emerging (and some fairly well entrenched) within the new information environment that make open source particularly timely for libraries. These developments include: open (linked) data; managing research data; open scholarship and science; Open content such as OERs; crowdsourcing, and, of course, open access. Open source solutions for the library fit very well into this broader open momentum affecting the academic world at present. Away from the academic world it is difficult not to notice the close correlation between the open, learning, sharing and peer-production culture libraries embody and that of the open source culture.So it may be that one of the greatest benefits of adopting open source is that it mirrors the very philosophy and values of the library itself.

Free and Open Source software and cultural change, at Library Camp 2012. By Andrew Preater (@preater). October 2012
Andrew focusses on the cutltural issues...from the blog post:-
'However, in the broader cultures of higher education we face various problems. In some ways the Four Freedoms are in opposition to the broader organizational culture we work in. We identify points of tension for universities and libraries as collaborative organizations working within power structures that do not necessarily agree with or support a collaborative approach. This is especially the case in our current political and financial climate, where increased competition between institutions will to an extent mitigate against a collaborative culture.'

Introductory presentation

A useful and recent (June 2010) that sets the scene and covers some of the core issues: What is Open Source? Why use it and who benefits. Keynote from Ken Chad at the UK e-information Group (UKeiG) annual seminar on 16 June 2010. Judith Hegenbarth, Academic Support Team Manager at the University of Birmingham has written a full meeting report

Open Source Backgrounder

Focusing mostly on the open source LMS/ILS, this backgrounder from Lori Ayre (The Galecia Group) describes some of the benefits of libraries going to an Open Source ILS and explains some of the differences when it comes to licenses, purchasing services, development/enhancements and maintenance of the system.

Open Source Discovery

'vertical Search/discovery services'


At present only one HE library (University of Staffordshire) in the UK is has signed up for or implemented an Open Source LMS, although some (such as LSE use the Open Source VuFInd 'Discovery Service' to supplement their LMS OPAC. The SWWHEP consortium in Swansea) VuFind implementation is now in full use and can be viewed as the primary OPAC interface at Swansea University at


'Get tooled up. Xerxes at Royal Holloway, University of London'. By Anna Grigson, Peter Kiely, Graham Seaman and Tim Wales. Ariadne Issue 62 January 2010. The article describes the implementation of an open source front end to the MetaLib federated search tool. It also makes some interesting comments about Open Source in libraries.


Blacklight is a free and open source Vertical search/discovery interface (a.k.a. “next-generation catalogue”) especially optimized for heterogeneous collections. You can use it as a library catalogue, as a front end for a digital repository, or as a single-search interface to aggregate digital content that would otherwise be siloed.
What are some of the features? Blacklight uses solr, an enterprise-scale index for its search engine. Blacklight features faceted browsing, relevance based searching (with the ability to locally control the relevancy algorithms), bookmarkable items, permanent URLs for every item, user tagging of items.
Who uses it? The University of Virginia Library and Stanford University Library are the primary development partners

eXtensible Catalog

eXtensible Catalog comprises four software components that can be used independently to address a particular need or combined to provide an end-to-end discovery system to connect library users with resources

Open Source library management

EBSCO Supports New Open Source Project.

Software for academic libraries will be developed collaboratively. By Marshall Breeding American Libraries. April 22, 2016
"Developers and librarians are working together to create a radically new, open source library services platform (LSP) aimed at transforming the technology academic libraries rely on. Backed by a multimillion-dollar contribution from EBSCO Information Services, the participants plan to fast-track production of the software, with early versions available by early 2018.If the yet-unnamed project sticks to its schedule and finds interest as lively as expected, it could open a new chapter in library technology at least as important as the advent of LSPs and the recent rounds of major company mergers and acquisitions."

Currently the two most prominent open source LMS options are Koha ( and Evergreen ( Koha is used internationally by thousands of libraries of all kinds. It is entirely web-based. Evergreen is used primarily in the US although it is starting to gain traction outside of the US.Both are supported by an assortment of services providers, have links to live demo systems, and provide the software for downloading.


Project website:
Support Providers:
Demo Systems:
Supported in the UK by:-
PTFS Europe (
Nick Dimant
Managing Director
PTFS Europe
Mobile: +44 (0)7966 571704


Project website:
Support Providers:
Demo Systems:
Supported in the UK by:-
PTFS Europe (
Nick Dimant
Managing Director
PTFS Europe
Mobile: +44 (0)7966 571704

Kuali OLE

'is the first system designed by and for academic and research libraries for managing and delivering intellectual information.
A community of partners will deliver an enterprise-ready, community-source software package to manage and provide access not only to items in their collections but also to licensed and local digital content. Kuali OLE (pronounced oh-LAY, for Open Library Environment) features a governance model in which the entire library community can collaborate to own the resulting intellectual property.'

Open Source ERM systems

Open source solutions for Electronic Resource management are not so widely adopted for the management of e-resources and for print (ie LMS/ILS). Here are some examples:
Simon Fraser University, Canada
ppraisal of reSearcher suite by University College Cork

University of Notre Dame, Indiana, US

University of Wisconsin La Crosse
Brief review: 'Open source ERM through ERMes' By Alexander Kouker. Libfocus blog 29 June 2012

State University of North Carolina

Open Source Reading / Resource List Management Systems

LORLS (Loughborough University)

LORLS (Loughborough Online Reading List System) is a reading list management system developed by the Systems Team at Loughborough University Library and made available as open source. LORLS has been in use since June 2000 and recently has gone through a complete redevelopment. (See Redeveloping the Loughborough Online Reading List System. By Dr Jon Knight, Dr Jason Cooper and Gary Brewerton, 28 July 2012.)

Additional Resources

Selecting an open source ILS (LMS)

How to Choose an Free and Open Source Integrated Library System,
By Tristan Müller. OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives. Vol. 27, no. 1, 2011, pp. 57- 78.
From the paper:-

'Findings: More than 20 open source ILS’s were submitted to this methodology but only 3 passed all the steps: Evergreen, Koha, and PMB. The main goal is not to identify the best open source ILS, but rather to highlight which, from the batch of dozen open source ILS, librarians and decision makers can choose from without worrying about how perennial or sustainable each open or free project is, as well as understanding which ILS provides them with the functionalities to meet the needs of their institutions.'

Open Source Open Libraries

Edgy Librarian 27th January 2011
Useful Q & A on open source for libraries

Open Source open libraries

US website 'empower libraries and library consortia by encouraging participation and collaboration in open source software products generally, and encouraging them to consider an Open Source Library System such as Koha or Evergreen'. Have useful links to things like features of systems and updates on implementations and issues

OpenLibraries website

The **** website has some useful information

Breaking the barriers conference

**'Breaking down the barriers for open source library systems'**
(link to full text)
By Ken Chad. Ken Chad Consulting Ltd
This article was originally published in CILIP Library+Information Gazette in April 2009

"Surveying Higher Education (HE) in 2007, the JISC and SCONUL commissioned study on the Library management Systems (LMS) Market revealed no appetite to move to Open Source LMSs. ‘No respondents thought that it was likely that they would adopt an Open Source LMS’. Public libraries took a similar stance. A debate in August 2007 on the public library discussion list, LIS-PUB-LIBS uncovered, no enthusiasm for an open source LMS. One respondent commented, 'Open Source' is “not yet” for libraries - we need a watching brief'.'Indeed the JISC/SCONUL LMS study came to a similar conclusion and in the section of the report entitled Making Decisions it recommended that libraries, ‘keep a watch on Open Source development’ Two years on and attitudes are changing. In April 2009 Karl Drinkwater, E-learning Adviser for the JISC Regional Support Centre Wales summarised (on the LIS-LINK listserve) some of the results of his investigations into Open Source. ‘It seems that a lot of institutions are considering the open source LMS route - most of those that responded were at this consideration stage, rather than implementation’."

Integrated library management systems: what we need

21st July 2009, by Sarah Bartlett

This is a thoughtful (Panlibus) blog post from Sarah Bartlett at Talis from a session at the (July) 2009 CILIP Under One Umbrella Conference . It puts Open Source into a wider perspective

Library 2.0 Gang Open Source Systems

12th August 2008, 11:10 am by Richard Wallis
Podcast :

"Open Source Software has been around for many years. Open Source components have been used to develop library systems since the late 1990’s. Koha, acknowledged as the first fully open source library system was launched by its New Zealand based developers in 2000. The growing interest around open source, stimulated by Koha, was given a significant boost when Georgia Public Libraries launched Evergreen in September 2006. We have two guests this month:
Karen G. Schneider, Community Librarian for Equinox Software, the support organisation which grew out of the Evergreen project.
L J Haravu Chief Domain Specialist, Verus Solutions Pvt., Ltd., Hyderabad India, the software company behind NewGenLib the Open Source library system successfully spreading across India and the Middle East.
Stimulated by the success of the organisations represented by our guests, the gang for this month – Nicole Engard, Talin Bingham, Andrew Nagy, Marshall Breeding, and Carl Grant – go on to discuss how Open Source Library Systems, and the open approach behind them, have changed the way all system suppliers both commercial and Open Source are delivering their systems and engaging with their customers".

Some more detailed (mainly with a US bias ) resources are:

Open Source Integrated Library Systems

by Marshall Breeding. 2008 ALA Techsource
This can be purchased from ALA. There is more information about it on the LTR Website

Abstract: In this issue, Breeding details the differences between using an open source approach to that of using conventional proprietary software for automated operations."In the past, our options were differentiated on the basis of features, functionality, price, and performance of the software and the perceived ability for a given company to develop its products into the future and provide adequate support. Do these factors differ with open source ILS products?"Breeding’s report can help answer that question as well as defines open source and provides an overview of the various open source options currently available to libraries, including Koha and Evergreen. In this eighth issue of Library Technology Reports in volume 44, you’ll find: Open source defined and a look at open source versus traditional licensing."The Commercial Angle," including total cost of ownership, vendor/product independence, and information about collaborative and sponsored development.An overview, including history and background, of major open source ILS products, with information about Koha, Evergreen, OPALS, and NewGenLib.Trends in open source ILS adoption, including geographic impact, licensing, and distribution.An overview of commercial support firms — including LibLime, Equinox Software, Media Flex, Versus Solutions, and Index Data — for open source ILSSpecifications for the technology components of an open source ILS, including the server operating system, Web servers, database engines, programming environments, and client environments.Information about standards as well as features and functionality of open source ILS, including the scope of the ILS; support for consortia; and information about the online catalog, circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, and serials control in the ILS

Open Source’ Integrated Library System Software

By Richard W. Boss
(Revisions completed December 14, 2008) (full text)

"A number of public libraries have been investigating “open source” integrated library system software. However, the percentage of libraries that would seriously consider implementing an open source ILS is still small, approximately three percent in a
survey of 80 North American libraries conducted by the author in October of 2008. Marshall Breeding of the Vanderbilt University Libraries came up with a similar figure in a much larger international survey in late 2007 ("

Survey of Open Source integrated Library Systems.

A Thesis Presented to The Faculty of the School of Library and Information Science San José State University In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Library and Information Science by Linda M. Riewe August 2008 (full text)

Abstract "The purpose of this study is to compare integrated library system (ILS) costs and benefits, and to inform librarians about considerations when choosing between an open and a closed source ILS. A survey was conducted among libraries that used the largest open source ILSs, Koha and Evergreen, and various proprietary ILSs. Questions were asked about initial and annual costs. Questions about benefits took the form of satisfaction ratings. The questionnaire also asked why the ILS was selected, whether it
was customized, who hosted and serviced it, what problems were encountered, and library demographics.
The survey found that open source ILSs were more cost-effective than proprietary ILSs. Libraries using open source ILSs chose them mainly for affordability, and they cost less than proprietary ILSs. Although users of open source ILSs experienced difficulties with installation and incomplete documentation, they were modestly more satisfied than users of proprietary ILSs."

Making a Business Case for Open Source ILS

By Marshall Breeding. March. 2008 Information Today

Abstract: "We’re living in a phase of library automation characterized by an increased interest in open source-not just in back-end infrastructure components but also in the mission-critical business applications such as the integrated library system. Open source library automation systems, including Koha and Evergreen, have been propelled into the limelight. Recent survey data fails to corroborate broad interest that libraries are ready to adopt open source ILS. The success of early adopters of open source ILS now serve as a catalyst for others. Paths now exist with more mature systems and professional support options. As the open source movement matures, these system will need to compete on their own merits and not solely on a philosophical preference."

Companies supporting open source library systems (in the UK)

**PTFS Europe** provides the services needed to implement the Koha and Evergreen Library Management Systems.

**Turo Technology LLP** is a partnership of workers called It is "computer-related services" worker cooperative

NUCSOFT Ltd. Launched at CILIP LMS showcase event in November 2011
Uk Office Suite 9, Continental House, 497 Sunleigh Road, Alperton, London HA0 4LY

There are software-specific lists of Koha support providers and Evergreen support providers on their sites.