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.
You might be interested in the Next Generation Catalogs for Libraries list, newly created from some ideas batting around on the web4lib list.
When we’re not doing the coding ourselves, sometimes it’s hard to make sure that a website or technology project goes the way we want it to. Learning to communicate expectations before the project really gets going is much better for everyone than trying to retrofit your desires post-launch. The web4lib list, which has been interesting reading in all sorts of ways the last few weeks, has a short discussion about why web standards are important. Thomas Downling explains the ethical obligations and why standards compliance is not as hard as most people say and Karen Schneider follows up with a warning about holding your ground about standards when talking to vendors. Carrie Bickner Zeldman wrote an article about standards for Library Journal in 2002 but the information is just as important, and I’d argue easier to implement, today.
Small update and interesting sidenote. Even though the web4lib content is being presented in blog format, it’s not really a blog. That is, you can’t comment using the comment form without being a list member. Not that this is a bad thing, but it is definitely a repurposing of the blog format in a way that produces unexpected results. Anyone who doesn’t know about web4lib should read up on it. Maybe it’s the librarian in me, but I think the list of guidelines for list behavior is sane, thoughful and thorough.
Web4lib’s content is available for reading and permalinking in blog format with and RSS feed and interchangeable skins! [unalog]