From: Gordon Paynter
Sent: 5/25/01 5:01 PM
Subject: [oss4lib-discuss] RE: Open Source Software and Libraries
>It's not so much the OSS environment that is the problem, it is the
>user interface (i.e. librarians shouldn't have to use perl or set up
>web servers, open source or otherwise).
Exactly. As long as we assume the user to have some programming skills and be expected to be able to set up web servers, perl scripts, &ct. the benefits of OSS will remain out of reach of 90+ per cent of librarians out there, especially those who would benefit the most from OSS: the small, rural libraries with no IT staff and who cannot afford traditional commercial automation products. OSS products could be packaged and designed in such a way that installation and use is made simple and does not require such skills. We have to be careful about design and the assumptions we make about the user.
Then again, we must remember that we're still in the early stages of setting up an OSS infrastructure for libraries, and things are going to be klunky for awhile. It can be compared to the PCs of the mid 1970s.. they were very hard to use (often the interface was just a panel of switches and LEDs), you often had to put them together yourself, and when you were finished with that, you would be hard pressed to get them to do anything really useful at all. Things have changed considerable since in the PC marketplace. I think that given time and a "critcal mass" OSS in libraries could evolve similarly to the point where it could be serviceable to the majority librarians.
North Suburban Library System
see also http://oss4lib.org