Posted by Lori Ayre on May 12, 2010

I'm heading off to Colorado today to talk with a library consortium about some of the exciting opportunities for expanding their services by taking advantage of open source technologies.   What I'll be talking about is the openings created when a library migrates to an open source library system product like Koha or Evergreen.

Here's my starter list of the things library consortia can be (okay, I mean should be) doing:

    1. Saving or re-investing license costs:  moving to a shared open source catalog reduces the overall costs of a shared system- a lot – savings can be passed on to members or re-invested (p.s. I vote for re-investing....see below)
    2. Providing services that used to be provided by the Vendor:  "sales,” project management, training, support, migration, hosting, customization.
    3. Serving as liaison between consortia  members and OSLS (open source library system, e.g. Koha or Evergreen) community providing services such as: developing software development priorities for consortia, submitting feature requests to OSLS development community, writing software specifications, contracting with programmer(s), developing new features, fixing bugs
    4. Developing institutional expertise in open source technologies to expand their development, integration and support roles.

    That last one is key.  Once the consortia starts developing in-house skills in open source technologies like PHP, MySQL, Perl, and the various Linuxes....they can expand into all sorts of other areas.  Why not move all of your consortia's public computers over to Ubuntu with Open Office and save even more money for your members (imagine no Microsoft licensing fees for all those desktops....).  Maybe you need a metasearch tool...there's plenty of open sources ones you can experiment with.

    Some consortia are already grabbing the bull by the horns and taking advantage of this growth opportunity.  Bibliomation and NEKLS come immediately to mind.  They were doing fine as consortia before they plunged into open source, but now they are ROCKING!

    I hope to encourage other consortia to follow their lead.