I’ve been reading articles for the past few days talking about the ongoing debate between LibLime/PTFS and the Koha community working on a different version of the same software. Here is an article from Linux Weekly from last year describing the forking issue, the point at which LibLime/PTFS started independently developing their own version of the open source ILS Koha. Recently LibLime was granted the use of the trademark Koha in and around New Zealand according to their press release though it’s not entirely clear if a Maori word can even be trademarked. The Koha community centered around the original code at the Horowhenua Library Trust is concerned that PTFS will not make a good faith effort to do what it says it’s interested in doing: transferring the rights to the trademark back to the community. They are concerned that there will be a legal fight and are requesting donations and other support. Meanwhile LibLime appears to have lost significant ground to other versions of Koha according to the Library Technology Guide’s ILS turnover chart for last year. Seems like a good point in time for the libraries who are using LibLime/PTFS’s version of Koha to step up and make sure that their own vision of the open source community and their products is being respected and upheld by the companies who they are paying. Further reading on this topic is available at this Zotero group.
Nicole wonders aloud why people who paid for an Open Source OPAC from LibLime aren’t raising hell when they are instead pressured to accept the closer-source version instead?
So why are these librarians taking it? Why are they being quiet? I don’t have an answer for you – and so I’m hoping someone out there can answer this for me. If you signed a contract for one product and then are told you have to use another – do you just say okay? or do you move on or demand the product you originally wanted. I think that the result of the Queens Library law suit will be very interesting – but I’m shocked that this is the first!! Librarians have been just taking these hits and coming back for more.
“Meanwhile, if there is high ground to be had, I doubt it is currently occupied by LibLime.”
Roy Tennant explains what’s been going on at LibLime and links to a longer post at Library Matters. LibLime’s version of this announcement, on their news feed, is not very encouraging. As someone working with a tiny library and a free version of Koha, I’m particularly disappointed in the libraries that are helping bankroll this and are not pushing for more openness in terms of release dates for code and better communication all around. Meanwhile Nicole Engard whose work I respect a lot has taken a job at Bywater Solutions. They are lucky to have her.
Another link or two about the thing I mentioned in my day in the life post from a week or so ago. I had mentioned there was some Koha/LibLime drama but I didn’t know much about it. I spent some time emailing with people asking about it — my library is a Koha library, or a nascent one, so this is professionally as well as personally interesting to me — and reading a lot of email and chat transcripts. My impression now is that there’s a little bit of a “there” there and now there’s something I can link to.
This thread on the Koha users discussion group list outlines some of the issues. In short, what I understand, and please correct me if I’m wrong, is that LibLime is building features into their hosted version of LibLime that may not be rolled into the main version of Koha that is openly distributed. This became apparent during a user group meeting tha thappened at ALA, a loose transcript of which is included in this discussion. This release option is technically okay according to the terms of the license which is GPL V2 which says that only released code needs to be made available to the larger community. Some clients feel that this is against the spirit of what they thought they were purchasing which was code they’d have access to and that they could edit and/or alter themselves. Other large clients like WALDO want their investment in improvements protected, it seems.
LibLime has lost some staff recently and it is felt that there is a schism growing in the Koha community over this and related issues. I’d be interested to know if other people are running into this.
I subscribe to the LibLime news blog which is often announcements of libraries that have decided to go with Koha. It’s an interesting blog, I’m always curious who decides to go to the Open Source route. This latest announcement about the Derby Public Library cheered me because not only are they going with Koha, they’re implementing YakPac which is a kid-specific OPAC that still has a huge degree of functionality. I show it off a lot in my 2.0 talks because it’s engaging and entertaining and represents the answer to the question “how far can you go with the OPAC?” without a lot of bells and whistles, just fun easy-to-use design.
It’s great to mess around with open source tools if you’re geeky and techie. However what if, like many small libraries and solo librarians, you’re not? PALINET has been looking at open source tools and I really really like what PALINET is doing to make using an open source ILS a genuine option for their member libraries. Way to actually address the problem PALINET, nice job.
PALINET is aware that not all of our members have the technical support or skills necessary to install or test the open source applications that are currently available. We’re looking at a number of ways to address this issue, but we’ve taken two initial steps already. First, a member Technology Caucus has begun regular discussions of open source software tools in monthly meetings. Yesterday, a group of library developers met at the PALINET offices in Philadelphia to install test copies of Koha and Evergreen for evaluation and comparison. It’s my hope that we’ll be able to put together a couple of really clean, well integrated, model systems, which will demonstrate the kind of functionality that is possible with these open source ILS solutions.
Are you open-source-curious but reluctant to move to a product without built in support? The folks at LibLime want to help make the move to open source library systems easier and less fraught with peril. They sell and support their own version of Koha [yes one of those features is spell-check, do I have your attention now?] as well as an intranet product which enables blogging, photo sharing, and web site updating. If you must filter, they’ve got an open-source answer to that too. I’m still in the data-collection phase learning about LibLime but Koha is a tested dependable ILS and now that there is a supported version, I’d love to see more people jumping on the bandwagon.