October 23, 2014

ILS: How Some New Hampshire Libraries are Using Open Source Software

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From The Telegraph (Hudson, NH):

“With proprietary (software), if you want an enhancement, a new feature, you’ll have to wait until demand builds for it. With Evergreen and Koha, you have access to a developer network worldwide that can work on it,” said Charlie Matthews, director of the Rodgers Library in Hudson. It is about to switch to Evergreen, originally developed for the Georgia state library system.

“As for annual maintenance cost, it’s probably 20-25 percent the total cost of proprietary system license,” he said.

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Up the road in Litchfield, the Cutler Library is one of six New Hampshire libraries, including the Tarbell Library in Lyndeborough, participating in a state program to help them adopt Koha, which was first created in New Zealand and now exists in variants worldwide.

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“We’ve had some interesting developments,” said Michael York, New Hampshire state librarian, pointing to tiny Sanbornton, near Laconia, which adopted open-source software early on, and some cooperative developments done by small neighboring libraries.

“Anybody can do anything they want to open-source (systems), but don’t own it,” he said. As an example, he noted that a module was developed for Evergreen to handle credit cards, a function that didn’t previously exist. “Now, anybody else who is using Evergreen has access to that module.”

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“We looked at Evergreen, Koha,” said Loren Rosson, director of circulation at Nashua Public Library, which has the industry-leading Symphony system. “Open-source has its advantages, but it really didn’t come down to a choice between open-source and proprietary. We went with the features that were best for us.”

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Gary Price About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.