ILS: How Some New Hampshire Libraries are Using Open Source Software
“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.
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.
“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.”
“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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About Gary Price
Gary Price (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. He earned his MLIS degree from Wayne State University in Detroit. Price has won several awards including the SLA Innovations in Technology Award and Alumnus of the Year from the Wayne St. University Library and Information Science Program. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com.