FLOSS is an acronym standing for Free/Libre Open Source Software and it’s the term people use when they’re trying to describe the intersection of what’s free and what’s open source. Eric Goldhagen gave a great talk about FLOSS (ppt) at the Simmons Skillshare and sent us off with a list of FLOSS tools that can replace what we’re already using in libraries, from Open Source IM clients to whole free operating systems. It made me happy, then, to read about Howard County Library in Maryland moving to a user experience on their computers that they call Groovix. This web4lib post has the details but it’s an ubuntu-based system that covers all the bases of what people use PACs for using free (not always open source) tools. They end their post with this note
Howard County Library is a pioneer in Maryland in using Open Source software on public and staff machines. Because Open Source software is available free or at a very modest cost, the Library can provide public computers at a fraction of the cost using comparable commercially-available software.
Sounds neat, doesn’t it? I’ve often though, and said in my talks, that a lot of software problems are management issues disguised as money issues. We say we can’t afford to change, when what we mean is that we don’t know how. FLOSS-curious? Check out this Wikipedia Free Software portal. Yeah I said Wikipedia, for all of its flaws, at least they’re not trying to sell you anything.
A few people had sent me a link to LibriVox before I left on the trip and it was in the queue to look at when I got back. I ran into Hugh McGuire at the Open Content Alliance Open Library Launch (his blog notes) and was happy to be able to say “Hey your link is in my inbox” and then get to talk to the man himself about the work that he does with group of dedicated volunteers. With a tagline like “acoustical liberation of books in the public domain” you’ve got to believe they have big plans. The specific project involves volunteers recording chapters of books and making the audio files available. The broader vision is to have “all books in the public domain to be available, for free, in audio format, on the internet.” You can have a copy of Call of the Wild to use however you want and whenever you want, thanks to LibriVox and the four volunteers who read and recorded the chapters. What are you waiting for, go volunteer to read something! Hugh is also on the board of Canda’s oldest lending library in case you were skeptical about his librarian cred.
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.
Open Source software can save your library money. Two great posts, one by Meredith at Information wants to be Free, and one by Karen at Library Web Chic — two smart women using open source blogging software — about what open source software they use. Links galore!
The open-ILS blog has announced a release of their open source integrated library system demo available, if I am not mistaken, as a Firefox plugin/extension.