Saturday, October 2, 2010

Why are Libraries Paying Venders instead of building Open Library Products ?

I am always amazed that libraries are paying vendors to supply, maintain and upgrade products instead of building Open Library products that all libraries could use for free. 

I would have thought that some of the largest libraries would have created their own products and made these available for other libraries to use and adapt these as they saw fit and to have a way for others to input suggestions for improvements. 

Some library staff have always attended ALA & CLA & NLA meetings so they have even had face to face opportunities to discuss what they would like as features in their ILS and how to achieve the results they want by co-operative non-commercial effort.

Money is always an issue and library staff know their needs better than anyone else.  Library staff have always included some people who were early computer users and certainly contain some people who really enjoy computer projects.  DOS and other daunting command languages are a long time ago.  Library staff with such an interest in learning about computer applications can develop their talents with encouragement and with the easy access to free help from other library staff on the Internet can learn to do almost anything. 

Over the years, various interfaces and "object libraries" have been built that make creating an application or program so much easier now adays. This is not a daunting task that needs to be left in the hands of people with detailed specialized computer language knowledge or computer degrees.  So much development of applications is actually done now by just selecting objects and inserting these by pointing and clicking and selecting attributes / properties or by cutting and pasting code that already exists.  

I remember fondly going to the Halifax Main Library to attend meetings re Freenets back in the early or mid 1990's.  Yet today, probably most libraries and universities are still paying commercial ISPs for their Internet access, as well as paying for commercially produced applications.

There is no way to legally avoid paying fees for access to copyright material  but I really think we should find ways to be independent of paying for providers "value-added" features.

I intend to go surfing looking for Open Library products because some really ought to exist.  Then I want to find out which libraries are using such software and what those library staff think of it.  Much as I am curious and want to do that right away, I have many readings waiting to be read and evaluated for my MUN course and course work has to be my priority.  It is really hard to resist spending too much time on tangents whenever something during my course spikes my personal interest.   Still I hope to get some insights in a week or so.

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