So last week I helped one of the small libraries I worked with get their in-house library catalog actually online, like on the web. They use Follett and had to pay some ungodly amount of money for the “web connector” software to make this happen. The process involves installing a fairly non-standard web server onto whatever your server is and then using it as the interface to your existing Follett install. The manual says you need to have a static IP address to make this work and the cable company they use for Internet won’t give them one. So, we had to do a little haxie magic using DynDNS, a special port redirect in the router, and a little app that lives on the server and broadcasts its current IP address to the DNS server. I had an idea that this would work but wasn’t totally sure, so we tried it. Other than that, my basic approach was “I am not a good cook but I can follow a decent recipe” which is what we did for the install.
When I say “we”, I mean me and my friend Stan who is a local IT guy who comes with me on some of these more complicated projects for the cost of lunch and does all the typing while I answer questions and explain what’s going on. The software install took all of fifteen minutes but the Q and A session took nearly an hour. As it stands they’re probably still going to use the local version of the OPAC in-house just in case the Internet goes down. I’m not sure I understand this reasoning and told them so. I’m as cautious as the next person as far as having a Plan B for most catastrophic situations, but I worry that if you only roll out the most bulletproof solutions, you wind up never trying new things and you live in fear that you haven’t tested everything rigorously enough. This sort of fear, uncertainty and doubt means going with large-scale tried and true solutions and is a definite impediment to getting libraries to work with open source. Additionally, with the perpetual betaness of a lot of 2.0 tools, anyone can muster up a reason to say no to them. I’m still always looking for the angle that will make people say “yes.”