See, there you go on the "open source to save money" thing. But you
must realize that development costs are really unconnected to the
price of software in a marketplace.
The danger here is that the real benefit of Open Source to the
customer is long-term. As you observe, library software is a service
business. The real money gets spent on the support, not the software.
But with proprietary software, the customer is locked into a single
supplier for support, so there's no competition, and the price is
high. Customers have to be willing to pay a *higher* price for
open-source software solutions (on the expectation that there will be
more competition for the support contracts) before there will be any
incentive for a library software company to offer open-source
This will take a while.
>Well, first off let me say 'hello' to everyone on the list. I just recently
>discovered this list during my search for alternatives to the horrible
>database/web cataloging system we're currently using at our public library.
>I agree that the success of any open-source project for libraries hinges on
>support. One could have the most efficient, customizable, powerful database
>on the planet, release it for free for libraries to use, and I guarantee
>that you'll never see more than 5% of the libraries migrate to it.
>Unless the library has the time/resources/knowledge to set up their own
>system with new software, I would assume that most of them would prefer to
>pay the ungodly sum of money to a company to do the setup for them. Then
>they'll continue paying the annual fees for support.
>Now, here's my thoughts. Someone must create the "Red Hat" of Library
>software. Start a company, use open-source code for your software
>solutions. But *don't* sell it on it's open source beauty. You never hear
>Red Hat selling Linux as something you should buy so that you can "suport
>the open source movement." No, they sell it on it's stability,
>customizability, and moreover, cost.
>So, someone creates Company X. X can draw upon the open source code already
>out there, and hire a team of programmers to work full-time on improving it.
>Then X can turn around and give the software out to any library that happens
>to want to use it, for free. Of course, most libraries will want help with
>installation and full-time, 24/7 support. Since Company X can provide these
>for a far smaller cost (since their software development costs will be lower
>thanks to open sourcing), many libraries will move towards their product.
>No single company can provide one product that will meet the needs of every
>library. But one company supporting an open source initiave could certainly
>hope to. And here's where you can sell the libraries on the open source
>aspect. Libraries aren't exactly a competitive market, which would probably
>make them more open to the open source idea. I'm certain that if one
>programmer at one library comes up with a better way to do something for
>their library, they'd be happy to share it with every other library in the
>world, for free (and if it's under GPL, well, I guess they'd have to!).
>Company X's main job would be incorporating these changes into new versions,
>and supporting them as more libraries adopt them.
>Now, I must admit here that I'm not a librarian, and I have only worked at
>our medium-sized public library for a few months. But as a recent computer
>grad, I hope that I can offer a different perspective on things than most of
>the other IT people in our library.
>Just thinking 'out-loud' here.
>-=- Camden Daily
>-=- Computer Services
>-=- Daniel Boone Regional Library
>-=- 573.443.3161 ext. 303
>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Eric Lease Morgan" <emorgan@...>
>Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2002 9:03 AM
>Subject: Re: [oss4lib-discuss] thoughts
>> The following message is forwarded with permission.
>> Erkens, Carol (LIB) <cerkens@...> wrote:
>> > The MAIN thing I see that's necessary is, training has to be offered. It
>> > be opensource, but it still takes skills to set up and maintain. Maybe
>> > academia can have the advantage of having computer gurus and such either
>> > working or going to school there, but the public and private libraries
>> > don't.
>> > One of the big reasons libraries give for NOT using opensource is staff
>> > only been librarians before stumbling into the IT positions and having
>> > learn seat-of-the-pants. When the choice is a point 'n click visual
>> > and 2,000+ mandoc, most librarians would opt for the easier, albeit much
>> > expensive, point 'n click. Quick, because the directors and board want
>> > in a week (2 at the most) and simple, just in case the IT person is sick
>> > goes on vacation (who's gonna maintain it all!!)
>> > Perhaps the academic libraries who have been doing this for a long time
>> > offer regular training, seminars on "is this right for us", sell it to
>> > department heads (who were reference librarians before getting their
>> > position), and maybe offering installations, setup and troubleshooting
>> > package deal.
>> > I'm just thinking off the top of my head here, but I know the opensource
>> > community, as a whole, are seen as godlike geeks whose knowledge is
>> > "regular staff". That myth must be dispelled. (I'm not saying they're
>> > godlike, we just need to soft-pedal that image to get what we want ;) )
>> > Just my 2 cents,
>> > Carol Erkens, Webmaster
>> > Omaha Public Library
>> (574) 631-8604
>> see also http://www.oss4lib.org/
>see also http://www.oss4lib.org/
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