At 10:50 3/09/2004, you wrote:
A few days ago I would have
say that in my opinion the biggest problem about free software in
libraries is maintenance and support. Now, Iím guessing that it could
rather be fear. Fear, for the librarians, of not knowing how to assume
support of those softwares. This is what appears to me when I talk about
that with librarians.
Library software usually represents a business-critical application for
libraries and consumes a significant percentage of library budgets.
Selecting a system is an important decision. Many library automation
projects, even at large and well known institutions, have failed or have
wasted money that could have been spent on library collections or
services. (For some reason, descriptions of these failures don't make it
into the journal literature.) The risks of failure, including the
possibility of prematurely terminated or non-existent support, have to be
accounted for in any system development, selection or implementation
Whether the risks of open source or free software are greater than those
of commercial software isn't the issue that concerns me about your
message-- I have developed, recommended or used free as well as
commercial software for more than twenty years, and open source for more
than ten. However describing concerns about software maintenance and
sustainability of an open source or free software as "fear",
shows a poor appreciation of the importance of risk assessment and a lack
of respect for the management and financial responsibility that the
librarians you have talked to feel towards their institutions and the
resources put in their charge.
I hope you get some good responses to your request. But please, no more
talk about "fear".
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