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Open Source Library Automation . The Current State of the Art . Marshall Breeding Director for Innovative Technologies and Research Vanderbilt University Program Description.

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open source library automation

Open Source Library Automation

The Current State of the Art

Marshall BreedingDirector for Innovative Technologies and Research

Vanderbilt University

program description
Program Description

“Open Source Library Automation” will examine the recent movement toward the adoption of open source integrated library systems, considering the relative advantages, disadvantages, risks, costs, and the functionality of the products available.

recent upheavals
Recent Upheavals
  • Industry Consolidation continues
  • Abrupt transitions for major library automation products
  • Increased industry control by external financial investors
  • Demise of the traditional OPAC
  • Frustration with ILS products and vendors
  • Open Source alternatives hit the mainstream

Breeding, Marshall: Perceptions 2007 an international survey of library automation. January 2008.

ils industry in transition
ILS Industry in Transition
  • Consolidation through mergers and acquisitions have resulted in a fewer number of players; larger companies
  • Uncomfortable level of product narrowing
  • Increased ownership by external interests
  • Yet: Some companies and products continue on solid ground

Breeding, Marshall “Automation system marketplace 2008: Opportunity Out of Turmoil”

Library Journal. April 1, 2008.

results of industry turmoil
Results of industry turmoil
  • Disruptions and business decisions to narrow options have caused major shifts in the library automation industry
  • fueled the open source movement and created a huge market for companies supporting open source ILS
  • Influx of business towards companies with reliable track record
  • Traditionally licensed and open source ILS alternatives will coexist in the ILS arena
open source ils enters the mainstream
Open Source ILS enters the mainstream
  • Earlier era of pioneering efforts to ILS shifting into one where open source alternatives fall in the mainstream
  • Off-the-shelf, commercially supported product available
  • Still a minority player, but gaining ground
    • Next LJ Automation System Marketplace article will update the score
  • Are they next-generation systems or open source version of legacy models?
it infrastructure
IT Infrastructure
  • Linux
  • Apache
    • Lucene
    • Solr
  • MySql
  • PostgreSQL
web server deployment
Web Server deployment

Source: Netcraft

operating system market share
Operating System Market Share
  • IDC figures for OS on new server shipments 3Q 2007:
  • Windows Server: 67.1%
  • Linux: 22.8%
    • Slight gain for Windows/loss for Linux over previous quarter
  • Open Source Software well established in for general IT infrastructure
  • Linux emerging as the dominant flavor of Unix
  • Commercial options continue to prosper
general infrastructure components
General Infrastructure Components
  • Index Data
    • YAZ toolkit
      • Z39.50
      • SRU/W
    • Zebra XML Search Engine
    • Pazpar2 federated search engine
    • MasterKey federated search hosted service
  • Open source digital repository engine
  • Not an out-of-the-box solution
    • Many organizations have developed their own interfaces and applications built on top of Fedora
  • VTLS Vital product based on Fedora
  • Supported by Fedora Commons
  • Institutional Repository Application
  • Originally developed by Hewlett Packard and MIT
  • Widely deployed by Universities for institutional repository projects
  • Developed by Index Data
  • Open source digital repository application
    • Digital content management
    • Federated search
    • OAI harvesting
    • Link resolver services
open source discovery products

Open source discovery products

AKA: Next Generation Catalogs

vufind villanova university
VUFind – Villanova University

Based on Apache Solr search toolkit

extensible catalog
eXtensible Catalog
  • University of Rochester – River Campus Libraries
  • Financial support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
    • Just received a second round of funding from Mellon
      • $283,000 (April 2006)
      • $749,000 (October 2007)
    • Wider institutional participation
opportunities for openness
Opportunities for Openness
  • Open Source
    • Alternative to traditionally licensed software
  • Open Systems
    • Software that doesn’t hold data hostage
more open systems
More Open Systems
  • Pressure for traditionally licensed products to become more open
  • APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) let libraries access and manipulate their data outside of delivered software
  • A comprehensive set of APIs potentially give libraries more flexibility and control in accessing data and services and in extending functionality than having access to the source code.
  • Customer access to APIs does not involve as much risk to breaking core system functions, avoids issues of version management and code forking associated with open source models.
more open systems25
More Open Systems
  • Pressure for traditionally licensed products to become more open
  • APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) let libraries access and manipulate their data outside of delivered software
  • A comprehensive set of APIs potentially give libraries more flexibility and control in accessing data and services and in extending functionality than having access to the source code.
  • Customer access to APIs does not involve as much risk to breaking core system functions, avoids issues of version management and code forking associated with open source models.
opportunity out of the upheavals
Opportunity out of the Upheavals
  • More options
    • Commercial + Open Source
  • More vendors
    • New open source support companies provide new competition
  • More library involvement
    • Libraries re-energized to make significant contributions to the body of library automation software
  • Traditionally licensed and open source automation systems will co-exist. We have an interest in the success of both alternatives.
web 2 0 collaborative computing
Web 2.0 / Collaborative Computing
  • Currently implemented ad hoc
  • Many libraries putting up blogs, wikis, and fostering engagement in social networking sites
  • Proliferation of silos with no integration or interoperability with larger library Web presence
  • Next Gen: Build social and collaborative features into core automation components
open source in the ils arena

Open Source in the ILS arena

Products and trends

open source ils enters the mainstream29
Open Source ILS enters the mainstream
  • Earlier era of pioneering efforts to ILS shifting into one where open source alternatives fall in the mainstream
  • Off-the-shelf, commercially supported product available
  • Still a minority player, but gaining ground
tracking the open source movement

Tracking the Open Source Movement

Through Marshall’s articles and columns

march 2002 open source ils still a distant possibility
March 2002: Open source ILS: still a distant possibility
  • “I do not, however, expect to see such victories of Open Source software over commercial products in the integrated library system arena. Both broad historical and recent trends argue against a movement toward libraries creating their own library automation systems—either in an Open Source or closed development process.”
  • Early open source efforts included Avanti, Pytheas, OpenBook, and Koha
  • 3 out of 4 now defunct

Source: Information Technologies and Libraries, Mar 2002

oct 2002 an update on open source ils
Oct 2002: An update on Open Source ILS
  • “the open source systems such as the three mentioned above are but a small blip on the radar. Compared to the thousands of libraries that acquire automation systems from commercial vendors each year, the handful that use open source systems cannot yet be noted as a trend. “
    • Discussed Koha, LearningAccess ILS, Avanti MicroLCS

Source: Information Today, Oct 2002

mar 2007 on update on open source ils
Mar 2007: On update on Open Source ILS

“As I look back at my 2002 column on open source ILS, I see that I mentioned both Koha and the Learning-Access ILS. Over this 4-year time period I have seen Koha usage increase from a single library system to two or more library systems plus a few individual public libraries and a large number of other small ones. The LearningAccess ILS is used in 15 libraries. Evergreen currently represents the largest group of libraries sharing a single open source ILS implementation.

Over the same time period, well over 40,000 libraries have purchased a commercial ILS. So, relative to the entire library automation arena, those using an open source ILS still represent a minuscule portion of the whole.

That said, conditions are ripe for a more rapid adoption of open source ILS than we have seen in the past. “

Source: Computers in Libraries, Mar 2007

mar 2008 making a business case for open source ils
Mar 2008: Making a business case for Open Source ILS

We’re living in a phase of library automation characterized by an increased interest in open source-not just in back-end infrastructure components but also in the mission-critical business applications such as the integrated library system. Open source library automation systems, including Koha and Evergreen, have been propelled into the limelight. Recent survey data fails to corroborate broad interest that libraries are ready to adopt open source ILS. The success of early adopters of open source ILS now serve as a catalyst for others. Paths now exist with more mature systems and professional support options. As the open source movement matures, these system will need to compete on their own merits and not solely on a philosophical preference.

Source: Computers in Libraries, Mar 2008

apr 2008 automation system marketplace
Apr 2008: Automation System Marketplace

“Last year marked the launch of the open source ILS into the mainstream; it received major attention in the press and at library conferences. From a business perspective, open source ILS contracts represented a very small portion of the library automation economy. The success of early adopters' implementations has already diminished skepticism. Many indicators suggest that open source ILS contracts will displace larger percentages of traditional licensing models in each subsequent year.

Source: “Automation System Marketplace: Opportunity out of Turmoil”

April 1, 2008

an industry in turmoil
An industry in turmoil
  • Disruptions and business decisions to narrow options have fueled the open source movement
  • Benefit to libraries in having additional options
  • Traditionally licensed and open source ILS alternatives will coexist in the ILS arena
open source vs traditional licensing
Open Source vs Traditional licensing
  • Taking sides?
  • Both viable options
  • Avoid philosophical preference
  • Which best supports the missions of libraries?
  • Which approach helps libraries become better libraries
koha first open source ils
Koha: first Open Source ILS
  • Koha + Index Data Zebra = Koha ZOOM
  • Components:
    • Perl
    • Apache
    • MySql
    • Zebra: search engine option for larger installations
libraries committed to koha
Libraries committed to Koha
  • 300+ libraries
  • Horowhenua Library Trust
  • Nelsonville Public Library
    • Athens County, OH
  • Crawford County Federated Library System
    • 10 Libraries in PA
  • Howard County, MD
    • Service area population: 266300
    • 4.7 million circulation transactions in 2006
    • 1 million volumes
  • Central Kansas Library System
  • Santa Cruz Public Library
    • Central, 9 branches
    • 2 million volumes
  • Near East University Library
    • 1.5 million volumes
  • Developed by the Georgia Public Library Service
  • Small development team
  • June 2004 – development begins
  • Sept 5, 2006 – live production
  • Streamlined environment: single shared implementation, all libraries follow the same policies, one library card
libraries using evergreen
Libraries using Evergreen
  • Georgia PINES
  • Georgia PINES:
    • 1 Installation
    • 54 Public Library Systems
    • 260+ library facilities
    • Does not include municipal systems: Atlanta-Fulton County, Cobb County
  • Province of British Columbia in Canada – SITKA
  • Kent County, MD
  • Evergreen Indiana
  • Under consideration by academic libraries in Canada
  • Open source Automated Library System
  • Developed and Supported by Media Flex
    • Harry Chan
    • Original developer of Mandarin
    • Installation ($250) and Hosting services ($750)
  • South Central Organization of (School) Libraries
  • consortium of K-12 school libraries in NY
libraries using opals
Libraries using OPALs
  • Dutchess County BOCES School Library System Union Catalog
  • Rockland County BOCES School Library System Union Catalog
    • manage as many as half a million unique titles and close to a million holdings.
  • South Central Organization Of (School) Library Systems
    • 1.7 million titles and more than 3 million holdings for 300 schools
  • 24 school libraries in Rockland County use OPALS open source software to manage the daily operations of their libraries
  • In New York State, 15 BOCES School Library Systems provide interlibrary loan services and building level management services to 900 school libraries using OPALS open source software

Source: Harry Chan. MediaFlex

  • ILS designed for the developing world
  • Originally traditionally licensed, introduced 2003
  • Transition to Open Source in Jan 2008
  • 122 Installations (India, Syria, Sudan, Cambodia)
  • Collaborative project:
    • Kesavan Institute of Information and Knowledge Management
    • Versus Solutions
    • Versus IT Services Pvt. Ltd
commercial involvement

Commercial Involvement

Companies formed to support open source library products

the open source business front
The Open Source Business Front
  • Index Data
    • Founded 1994; No ILS; A variety of other open source products to support libraries: search engines, federated search, Z39.50 toolkit, etc
  • LibLime
    • Founded 2005. Provides development and support services for Koha ILS. Acquired original developers of Koha in Feb 2007.
  • Equinox.
    • Founded Feb 2007; staff formerly associated with GPLS Pines development team
  • MediaFlex.
    • Longstanding school library automation company. Latest generation ILS developed in open source model


  • Small, but growing, private company formed in early 2005
  • Devoted to support of Koha and other open source software
  • Launched by individuals involved with the Koha implementation at the Nelsonville Public Library
  • Acquired the Koha activities of Katipo Communications (Feb 2007)
  • Total of 20 FTE – Hiring industry veterans exiting from traditional ILS companies
equinox software
Equinox Software
  • Small company
  • Devoted to facilitating libraries implement Evergreen the open source ILS developed for PINES
  • Launched by individuals related to the development and implementation of Evergreen at the Georgia Public Library System
  • Contracts to GPLS and other libraries for the ongoing development and support of Evergreen
care affiliates
Care Affiliates
  • Recently formed company to provide support for Open Source library automation products.
  • Carl Grant – Former COO of VTLS, President of Ex Libris (USA), Innovative Interfaces, DRA, etc.
  • No ILS product. Limited number of contracts.
  • Primary initiative involved federated search
  • Company assets sold to LibLime in July 2008.
open source issues
Open Source Issues
  • Explosive interest in Open Source driven by disillusionment with current vendors
  • Seen as a solution to:
    • Allow libraries to have more flexible systems
    • Lower costs
    • Not be vulnerable to disruptions that come with mergers and acquisitions
  • Beginning to emerge as a mainstream option
  • TOC (Total Cost of Ownership) still roughly equal to proprietary commercial model
cost issues
Cost issues
  • Costs shifted from traditional software licensing models
    • No initial purchase of license or annual license fees
  • Hardware costs (same as traditional)
  • Vendor support costs (optional)
  • Hosting services
  • Conversion services
  • Local technical support (may be higher)
  • Development costs – vague models for next-generation development
risk factors
Risk Factors
  • Open Source still a risky Alternative
    • Dependency on community organizations and commercial companies that provide development an support services
  • Commercial/Proprietary options also a risk
    • Opinions vary, but:

“the traditional ILS market is no longer a haven for the risk adverse.”

(Northern PINES talking points

open source ils benchmarks
Open source ILS Benchmarks
  • Most decisions to adopt Open Source ILS based on philosophical reasons
  • Open Source ILS will enter the main stream once its products begin to win through objective procurement processes
    • Hold open source ILS to the same standards as the commercial products
    • Hold the open source ILS companies to the same standards:
      • Adequate customer support ratios, financial stability, service level agreements, etc.
  • Well-document total cost of ownership statements that can be compared to other vendor price quotes
measuring interest in open source ils
Measuring Interest in Open Source ILS

Source: Perceptions 2007: an international survey of Library Automation

open source market share
Open Source Market share
  • Open Source ILS implementations still a small percentage of the total picture
  • Initial set of successful implementations will likely serve as a catalyst to pave the way for others
  • Successful implementations in wider range of libraries:
    • State-wide consortium (Evergreen)
    • Multi-site public library systems (Koha)
    • School district consortia (OPALS)
unesco cds isis
  • Dominant automation platform for Latin America
  • Distributed without cost but not as open source
  • Software components do not form a true ILS
  • Difficulty with language scripts (no UNICODE)
  • Transition to open source model underway
    • Preserve compatibility with ISIS database structure at least for the short term
    • Integrate multiple components into a true ILS
abcd isis based open source ils
ABCD – ISIS based open source ILS
  • Rio Declaration: Sept 2008 – Reinforced dedication to ISIS family of software in collaboration with organizations like BIREME
  • CDS/ISIS database structure
  • UNICODE support
  • Java ISIS
  • ISIS Network Based Platform (NBP)
    • Python based architecture
  • ABCD (Automatisación de Bibliotécas y Centros de Documentación)
open source perspective
Open Source perspective
  • Are open source ILS products taking library automation in a new direction, or are they open source versions of what we already have?
  • Will current slate of companies be able to support increasing numbers of libraries without the same difficulties as the incumbent ILS vendors?
  • The ILS landscape is forever changed by the open source alternatives
  • Open Source ILS catching up with the Legacy ILS. Both moving headstrong into the past.
  • Urgent need for a new generation of library automation designed for current and future-looking library missions and workflows.
open library environment ole project
Open Library Environment (OLE) project
  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
    • Research in Information Technology program
    • Solicited proposal / Lead institution
  • Duke University selected to lead project
  • Core Participants: Kansas University, Lehigh University, National Library of Australia, Library and Archives Canada, University of Pennsylvania, Marshall Breeding
  • Advisory Participants: University of Chicago, Wittier College, University of Maryland, ORBIS Cascade Alliance, Rutgers University
  • Status: Project underway: First in-person meeting, scope document underway, SOA training, first public webcast. Participants actively engaged in process.

combine and consolidate
Combine and Consolidate?
  • What is the ideal configuration to use an ILS?
    • Single Library (including branches)
    • Shared regional system
    • State- Province-wide ILS?
  • Trend toward increased numbers of facilities sharing an ILS
    • Several examples of multiple consortia combining to share one ILS implementation
    • Many initiatives toward statewide ILS implementations
    • Internationally: some country-wide ILS implementations (e.g. COBISS in Slovenia)
  • The days of the one-library ILS are fading
  • The viable size of an implementation not as much an issue as in earlier phases of computing
  • Hardware scales almost infinitely
  • Major ILS products scale almost infinitely
opportunities for the underserved
Opportunities for the underserved
  • Many libraries in the United States operate with no automation system or use PC-based systems with no Web access or resource sharing options
  • Many libraries run outdated systems
  • Current models put automation out of the reach of public libraries with small local tax base
  • Large-scale automation efforts can offer affordable (or free) access to these libraries
  • Compare: Number of un-automated public libraries in the UK: 1
  • Question: are shared / consolidated models applicable in Argentina?