Tag Archives: open source

Koha / demonstrating value #lianza11 #vs1

Two papers in this vendor session.

Shelley Gurney (http://koha-community.org/)
Giving librarians a voice – using open source libraries to build a better system

“We’re too small”
“We’re too big”
“You need to be a techie to run Koha” – there’s always someone on listserv to help and answer questions
“It’s difficult to migrate” – usually yes, but with Koha in fact you can have a painless migration
“The quality of the ILS is not great” – the British Archives, French police are using it without issues. Government departments – so security’s not an issue

FOSS – Free and Open Source
Why money isn’t everything – she can give us a CD now for free with the whole ILS and documentation. But will take time – which is why there are companies who can do this set-up for you.
Collaboration and community are the cornerstones of FOSS – and libraries – so we can have a say, a voice, in making it just what we want it to be. Can be customised exactly how we want.

Version 3.6.0 just released. (Upgrades every six months; bugfixes every two weeks.) Looking at using RFID with the system. Book covers, RDA compliant. Works with Te Puna, Worldcat. A library in India might ask for a new system to deal with children’s books, and will pay for its development – then it’s available for everyone to use.

Try it out at http://mykoha.co.nz – reset at 6pm every evening but you can catalogue, circulate, etc just as if it was live at your library, and see how users would use it. Search history and borrower history – deleteable by user. In staff view, things most often used on left, and others linked from right. Circulation screen looks like a friendly webpage. Fast cataloguing available – with Z39.50 search so you can look up in NLNZ or LoC.

Q: Why is NZ so behind in adopting Koha?
A: Partly don’t understand open source (think it’s free therefore no good) and partly hesitant to change. Lots not knowing what open source really means – advises to go to these sites, look around, and ask existing users how they’re enjoying it.
Comment: Often open source debate is about cost of actually maintaining it.
A: If you make it too complex this is true, but if you just take an existing system it should basically run itself (as much as, or even more than, anything else).
Comment: Used at ASB Community Trust – very small organisation and library. Migrating to Koha was so much easier than any other migration. Can pay for any specific customisations (per hour for development).
A: And if you need help, there’s a turn-around of 10 minutes for an answer.

Q: Smartphone and tablet aps?
A: Some developers working with RFID and integrating with tablet aps so can walk around and scan items in the library – mobile version of the main system that you’d be able to use on your phone. Also aps for users in the library.

Stephen Pugh Oranjarra Partners
Librarians are not hospice workers: best practice strategies for demonstrating value and influence in academic libraries

Currently seems like librarians are like hospice workers – looking after the patient while it dies. Sums up issues with vendors, suppliers, aggregators – market dominance and effective monopoly.

Best practice is not new in NZ. Streamlining of collection development. Idea of return on investment. Pushback against the Big Deal.

SCS – Sustainable Collection Services – irony of someone who spent first half of his year selling big packages, now telling libraries how to get rid of them.

World class collections aren’t created in a vacuum… Focus on relevant content. Academic libraries don’t want to put things in silos – is it a monograph, a journal, a CD – but look at whether it’s relevant. Also want to look at alternative models. Some are publisher-agnostic.

Various practical studies of return on investment. Tend to focus on research grant money but this measure is less relevant to institutions that don’t have a solid sci/tech base. Likewise summits on the value of academic libraries.

Evaluation has to do with standards. Assessment has to do with goals.
Usage and such measures = implied/empirical value
Testimonials = explicit value
Time and cost savings = contingent value

Questions for your toolkit
How does your library contribute to: student retention, graduation, success achievement, learning, experience; faculty research productivity, grants, prestige.

#2 issue in facilities in recruiting students is the library (article in “Facilities Manager”)

Survey (results on website)
People know of trend to measure ROI; many don’t think ROI can be accurately measured but do think metrics can be applied to Collection Development activities. Think admin/funding bodies more interested in ROI than faculty/students/community. Some measuring it; more “might at some stage”.

Oranjarra’s work will be informed by this trend. Hard to measure to get result you want. Need to decide if it’s a political issue or if there’s intrinsic value in it.

Links of Interest 4/11/09

New Zealand Electronic Text Centre has posted a list of online texts for current courses at VUW.

The Dept of Internal Affairs has launched Government datasets online, a directory of publicly-available NZ government datasets (especially but not exclusively machine-readable datasets).

Complementary Twitter accounts:

  • APStylebook (Sample: Election voting: Use figures for totals and separate the large totals with “to” instead of hyphen.)
  • FakeAPStylebook (Sample: To describe more than one octopus, use sixteentopus, twentyfourtopus, thirtytwotopus, and so on.)

Information Literacy
There was a lot of interest at and after LIANZA09 about the Cephalonia Method of library instruction (basically, handing out pre-written questions on cards to students to ask at appropriate times during the tutorial). A recent blogpost by a librarian worn out from too many tutorials wonders “what if the entire class session consisted of me asking students questions? What if I asked them to demonstrate searching the library catalog and databases?”

Scandal du jour
A document by Stephen Abram (SirsiDynix) on open source library management systems (pdf, 424KB) appeared on WikiLeaks. The biblioblogosphere saw this as evidence of SirsiDynix secretly spreading FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) against their open-source competition. Stephen Abram replied on his blog that it was never a secret paper and he’s not against open source software but it’s not ready for most libraries. Much discussion followed in his blog comments and on blogs elsewhere; Library Journal has also picked up the story.

For fun
Also at Library Journal, The Card Catalog Makes a Graceful Departure at the University of South Carolina – rather than just dumping it the library is hosting events such as a Catalog Card Boat Race and What Can You Make With Catalog Cards?

Things Librarians Fancy.


The role of libraries in emerging models of scholarly communication

a faculty-library publishing partnership
Sigi Jöttkandt, John Willinsky, Shana Kimball
abstract (pdf)

Crisis in scholarly publishing
Exponential rise in subscription prices, decline in library budgets, consolidation of the publishing industry. Affects everyone in academia but especially the “book disciplines” eg humanities. Crisis for readers (access to scholarly materials decreases) and for authors (fewer publishers to be published by).

Open access as a response
Definition by Peter Suber.

Alternative publication models
“Green road” – institutional repositories freely available. Discipline-specific eg arXiv.org, CSeARCH.

“Gold Road” – open access publishing – Directory of Open Access Journals

Open Humanities Press
Slow uptake of OA among humanities scholars, perhaps because of perceptions among humanities researchers that internet isn’t an appropriate publishing/researching venue. Open Humanities Press founded to counter these perceptions. Primary importance for humanities is not time to publication but prestige. Author-side fees would be inappropriate and didn’t want to waste time fundraising, so instead of starting new journals, looked to gather pre-existing efforts.

Launched Open Humanities Press with seven journals. Aim to raise profile and credibility of these journals. Assess journals according to various policies
Libraries Scholarly Publishing Office. Use open source publishing software.

Found there was a perception that OHP would soon be involved in books so ran with it. Formed a model where international scholars get together to edit, peer-review, and publish books – eventually e-publishing. Aim to double publishing of books each year.

Hope model will take off more widely. Doesn’t require much change from academics.

Still a community/volunteer project.

Public Knowledge Project
Open journal systems, open conference systems, developing open monograph systems

Made a dummy OA “LIANZA Journal” and Sigi says she’d be happy to talk to people about actually making the journal open access!

They’re modularising the journal system to create a software platform for a monograph system.

Q: Would publishers use this system to set up open access monographs? What’s the role of the library?
A: Scholarly Publishing Office is just for the conversion side of things – academics still do editing and peer review. Would like to see more libraries offer these services to scholars.

Q: Who does subject headings – authors or SPO?
A: Authors do add keywords. Journals are catalogued by libraries so subject headings are added there too.

Links of interest 25/9/09

LibLime, an organisation which sells support to the New Zealand-developed open-source library system Koha, has recently announced changes to their practices that are technically legal but many feel don’t abide by the spirit of the open-source license. Library Journal has a basic summary of events with links to key discussions.

A libarian gets a marriage proposal on Ask a Librarian.

Customer service
Being at the point of need discusses placing screencasts, chat widgets, and other tutorials in the catalogue, subject guides, and databases.

Chalk notes as a valid communication format is a library manager’s blogpost about her response to chalk-on-pavement comments about the library. Her follow-up on chalk notes addresses the issue of communication within the library about public responses like this.

Tracking ILL Requests is a “wouldn’t it be neat if” post about providing more information on ILL requests to users.

The APA has an APA Style Blog with all sorts of handy tips.

10 free Google Custom Search Engines for librarians

5 sites with free video lectures from top colleges

More on sharing

Yesterday we presented our conference feedback and I launched my “Let’s share everything!” manifesto. By the end of the session we were running late so we eschewed taking questions in favour of adjourning for lunch, but the idea’s out there and hopefully percolating. In the meantime I have LibGuides, focus groups, lesson plans, institutional repository verification, liaison, maybe-Facebook, hopefully-podcast, and oh-yes-outreach to set up before first semester starts.

But the other day I was reading (via LibraryTechNZ) a paper on IM a Librarian: Extending Virtual Reference Services through Instant Messaging and Chat Widgets. This linked to an open source tool and I navigated back up the chain to find a page the University of Nevada Las Vegas Libraries has set up a page of open source software projects they’ve been working on. So there’s one more precedent for the list.

And the fact that I came across it by such a chain of links has convinced me that, valuable as it is to get the stuff up onto the web anywhere, the real value will come when we can pool all of it into one place for easy findability.

Libraries and sharing

In December last year Dale Askey wrote a Code4Lib column, We Love Open Source Software. No, You Can’t Have Our Code which raised some discussion for a while.

But of course it’s not just software.

Oh, I haven’t personally experienced libraries refusing to share information. In fact when I was researching our “Library on Location” project, everyone I contacted was more than happy to give me stories, photos, even survey data. But… I did have to track them down from oblique references in old blogs and newsletters and email them, one by one.

And we put our own Library on Location reports online, which I’m glad we could do. But… we had to ask if we could do it, and only our conference paper is in any kind of official repository sort of space.

Is this consistent with our profession’s attempts to convince academics to put their research papers and data into institutional repositories?

And is it an efficient, librarian-like way of organising the accumulated knowledge within the profession?

User surveys.
Projects that work.
Projects that don’t work.
Projects that might work but we ran out of funding.
Projects that would work if we could share the workload with another institution.

This might have been why the Library Success wiki was created. It’s a great idea, but its contributors are individuals, not libraries, so it just doesn’t have the kind of oomph I’m thinking about.

What if…

What if every library in the world brought their anonymised circulation data, their IM reference statistics, their anonymised usability testing and survey results, their project reports, their lesson plans and handouts, and their iPhone applications out from their hard drives and their intranets and made them publically accessible?

What if they all licensed this stuff (and photos and podcasts and vidcasts and…) with a Creative Commons or GPL license?

What if they all created a single website where this stuff could be stored and searched in one place?

What if that website allowed space for libraries and librarians to comment and collaborate on and add to each other’s work?

No, seriously, I mean it

At the end of the month my library’s delegates to LIANZA2008 are going to report back to the rest of the staff about what we got out of the conference. I got 4 things out of conference, 3 of which were:

  1. Leadership – future taking vs future making
  2. Innovation – just do it
  3. Why are they presenting on this topic when we’ve gone further in our analogous project and have more experience of how it works in practice? Oh yes: because it never occurred to us to share.

So in my allotted 5 minutes of the reporting back, I plan to pitch the idea that we should move all our (sanitised if need be) project work from the intranet to open webspace.

What about the rest of the world?

Non-English blog roundup #5 (French)

Still catching up, so pulling together a bunch of French content this time:

Bernard Rentier writes “A university which wants to be on the cutting edge of information as a communication tool cannot be unfamiliar with these new practices. It must even use them, not to “reform” them, even less to control them, these two objectives not being acceptable, but if it’s a tool frequently used by many students, the Institution must be able to adopt this new concept and make itself a usage of it that is “sympathetic” and perceived as positive by everyone.

Risu suggests an easy method of increasing your library’s visibility: enter it into Google Business Center with contact details, website, description, photos and videos, opening hours etc. “The whole thing takes 5 minutes and it’s free.”

Thomas on Vagabondages talks about “Lottobook”, a game where every participant pledges to send a book to the winner. The winner is drawn and receives n-1 books, while a runner-up receives 1 book (from the winner) as a consolation prize and so even the winner doesn’t know they’ve won until all the books arrive in the mail.

A meme being passed on via Marlene’s Corner: “to give you the contents of my day as a 2.0 librarian on Monday”.

In Bibliobsession:

On DLog, Dominique writes about The two branches of the library:

Let’s not confuse

  • the physical item;
  • a particular edition of which the physical item is a clone among clones;
  • the work, which is immaterial


I draw from this a new conception of conservation: no longer only for the future or for researchers, but also for the public, here and now.”

And a new report has been published, Report on the digital book (pdf) by Bruno Patino, 30 June 2008. Very roughly, from the executive summary:

The entrance into the digital age seems to be happening later for the book than for other cultural industries. However, many publishing sectors such as professional, practice or reference books are already largely digitised. This development, so far, has challenged neither the commercial model, nor relations with authors, nor the customs of readers. But what would happen if digitisation were to accelerate, even to take over? Such a hypothesis, even if it cannot be predicted with certainty, still merits that the key players in the sector prepare for it, bearing in mind the very important effects that it could lead to on the precarious equilibrium of the book industry.

A particular vigilance should especially be brought to a possible new competition between the rights holders (authors and publishers), whose remuneration of their creations should be preserved and increased, and the access and network holders, who don’t necessarily have any interest in increasing the intellectual property rights.

In this context, two elements are essential: intellectual property must remain the cornerstone of publishing, and publishers must retain a central role in determining price.

The committee therefore recommends a series of measures organised into four actions:

  1. Promote an attractive legal offer. [eg look at interoperability of digital content – formats as much as DRM; interoperability of existing metadata; pursue the policy of supporting digital books[
  2. Defend intellectual property. [don’t modify intellectual property law, which can accomodate digitisation; open inter-professional discussions about the rights of authors]
  3. Put in place provisions allowing rights holders to have a central role in determining prices.
  4. Conduct an active policy with respect to community institutions. [Establish a bureau to promote intellectual property-related policy; request a lower TVA tax for digital cultural content.]

Discussion in various venues has ensued and seems likely to continue apace….