Building capacity to help enable open source solutions to flourish in the HE library community

Open Source Capacity

map for open source solutions for libraries
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Following the open edge open source for libraries event in January 2011 , a new JISCMail list, LIS-OSS, has been set up for discussion of open source software in libraries.

What's the purpose of the community?

John Norman in his Open Edge presentation pointed out that for a community to be successful it needs a clear purpose. The community is there to better enable UK HE (and FE?) libraries to take advantage of open source library solutions.

What's the rationale?

In summary the community will help contribute to innovative low cost library technology solutions. These are the potential advantages of open source (summarised in Ken Chad’s Open Edge presentation). Evidence points to the following:
  • Lower cost
  • More innovation
  • Easier customisation
  • No vendor lock-in
These advantages are given for open source in general and, as the event made clear, resonate within the library domain.

Community characteristics

What characteristics might the open source for libraries community have? The community's purpose differentiates it from the existing communities around specific products or issues such as Koha or Sakai. Nevertheless thecommunity will clearly need to interact with a variety of other communities.

The community's focus is around creating an environment where open source can flourish in UK HE/FE. It is therefore bounded by a geographical rationale but it should not be parochial and will take an international outlook in looking for solutions, advice and debate.

The focus on delivering open source based solutions into HE/FE will not mean excluding commercial providers. The presentations from Ian Dolphin, John Norman and Nick Dimant all advocated this inclusive approach. This makes sense. PTFS Europe was instrumental in enabling the initial uptake of open source LMS solutions. Sero and Ken Chad consulting are for profit commercial enterprises. These commercial solution providers are working alongside ‘social’ providers such as the JISC OSS watch.

Key issues to address

Issues of sustainability, governance, and how community members can give back to the community were identified as being important. There will be other issues of course. The community can act as a forum for debate of these issues.