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Comment: List of options with necessary complexity (Score 2) 188

by Thomas Dukleth (#38604004) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: Tech For Small Library Automation?

A proper library automation system can save considerable time on an ongoing basis and allow you to actually do what you describe with minimal overall effort.

Such a system would have NISO Z39.50 protocol client support for downloading and working with machine readable cataloguing, MARC, records well catalogued at another library for copy cataloguing to populate the records of an automated library system. Downloading records over Z39.50 directly from most libraries with Z39.50 servers, including the Library of Congress, is free and does not generally involve copyright issues as cataloguing records are almost entirely mere collections of facts prepared according to cataloguing rules.

Such a system would also have a degree of granular permissions to support automated self-checkout with a bar code scanner without also giving every user permission to erase the database. Self-checkout systems are often currently assumed to be RFID based, however, systems using a bar code scanner which are much cheaper to implement should be supported for self-checkout. The cheapest solution is to buy sheets of simple bar codes and obtain a used bar code scanner on Ebay. Using product bar codes already printed on material may have inconsistent encoding and non-unique numbers.

Check the support and possible extra price for such features in any candidate system.

1. Set Up Work.

Real work is often required for anything worth having.

Some minimal assistance from a professional librarian, who may be a member of your church or otherwise available in the community, would be invaluable help at least to start. Most library automation systems support configuration options designed for use by people who are not professional librarians but such support would not negate the great value of obtaining some minimal assistance of a professional librarian at the outset. Check the support for non-professional configuration.

The complexity of setting up such software may entail either paying a library support company to set up the software; or at least a few days of time from someone sufficiently familiar with Unix administration willing to read the documentation and seek answers on the mailing lists to set up a free software library automation system without using a professional support company. Some set up complexity might be avoided by using an implementation hosted by a library support company but that would involve a long term support contract which could be avoided with sufficient initial set up effort.

2. Lists of Library Automation Systems.

There is no single source of library automation system options which is comprehensive and up to date.

A library automation system is referred to as an integrated library system, ILS, in the US and a library management system, LMS, in many other English language countries.

2.1. Library of Congress List.

The Library of Congress maintains a list of automation systems which function with MARC records which includes some systems which are not comprehensive library automation systems, .

2.2. Library Technology Guides List.

Library Technology Guides maintains a list of library automation system companies. Library automation companies. - . - In Library technology guides / maintained by Marshall Breeding. - .

2.3. Library Journal Guide.

Library Journal publishes an annual overview of the library automation system market. Automation Marketplace 2011 : The New Frontier / by Marshall Breeding. - In Library Journal. - April 1, 2011 - .

2.4. Computers in Libraries Guide.

Computers in Libraries once had annual somewhat simple comparisons of library automation systems. I could only find their overview of the market for anything recent. Helping You Buy ILS / by Pamela R. Cibbarelli - . - In Computers in libraries. - January/February 2010 - .

They publish an annual buyer's guide. Buyer's Guide. - In Computers in Libraries. - July/August 2011 - . There is a web based directory for the buyer's guide. See Integrated Library Systems Software. - - In Computers in Libraries Buyer's Guide. - .

2.5. Librarian's Yellow Pages Directory.

Librarian's Yellow Pages is another place to check. Integrated Library Systems. - . - In Librarian's Yellow Pages. - .

3. Free Software Systems.

3.1. Koha.

Koha is a web based library automation system started in 2000. Koha is a fully international project with significant the largest and most diverse user base and feature set of any of the free software library automation systems. In 2010, the original Koha development community moved the community project to .

The community started using the new domain after unsuccessful efforts to resolve differences with LibLime management, the US based company which had been legally controlling the community domain from 2005, and lack of early response from PTFS which had acquired LibLime. The experience of the Koha community over the community domain and US trademark is a lesson for other free software communities to establish independent community legal control over community assets as early as possible in a project's development to avoid future problems with control by any one member of the community.

It is worth noting that the Koha community is quite large and internationally diverse and has continued to grow strongly since the great disruption caused by difficulties with LibLime management which PTFS have inherited as a business model in relation to Koha.

Koha is written in Perl with a MySQL database and Zebra indexing. While not an issue for a small church library serving European language users, work is being undertaken to integrate Solr/Lucene indexing which will better support UTF-8 indexing in some future release of Koha.

Koha is licensed under GPL 2, with an or later version invocation. [Unless otherwise resolved, the GPL 2 only license for the automated checkout code would prevent upgrading the license for any released copy of the work as a whole. The question of upgrading the license terms to GPL 3, with an or later version option; or AGPL 3, with an or later version option is stalled pending resolution of the issue over automated checkout code.]

Various Koha support companies are listed at .

3.2. Emilda.

Emilda is a web-based system from about 2000, . Emilda had some support for MARC early in its development but then a subsequently much slower growth curve in features and rate of adoption than Koha or Evergreen.

Emilda was first written in Perl, like Koha and Evergreen, but was later rewritten in PHP. Emilda uses a MySQL database together with Zebra for indexing and bibliographic record storage.

Emilda is licensed under GPL 2, with an or later version invocation.

3.3. OPALS.

OPALS, Open-source Automated Library System, is a web based free software system from the early 2000s for which the source code is available on request but lacks an open code repository, . OPALS is developed and marketed exclusively by Media Flex .

OPALS has a more efficient internal catalogue record editor than Koha has currently. Overall OPALS gives the impression of having a much more polished user interface. However, OPALS has many fewer features than Koha.

OPALS usage base is concentrated in school libraries.

OPALS is written in Perl with a MySQL database and Zebra indexing.

OPALS is licensed under GPL 2, with an or later version invocation.

3.4. PHPMyBibli.

PMB, PHPMyBibli, is a web based system originally created for the MediathÃque d'Agneaux in 2002. To my knowledge, PMB is developed and marketed exclusively by PMB services, . PMB seems to have a primarily French language community in accordance with its French origins.

PMB is written in PHP with a MySQL database.

PMB is licensed under the GPL compatible CeCILL license.

3.5. OpenBiblio.

OpenBiblio is a web based system which was first developed in 2002, . The system does not seem as complete as the other free software systems specifically listed here and I do not know much about its development history. OpenBiblio's usage base may be concentrated in Latin-American school libraries.

OpenBiblio is written in PHP with a MySQL database.

OpenBiblio is licensed under GPL 2, with an or later version invocation, and the additional permission of a waiver for section 2a.

3.6. Evergreen.

Evergreen is a web based system which was created for the public libraries in the state of Georgia in 2005, . To my knowledge, Evergreen is not yet old enough to attract significant support from companies other than Equinox Software, , which is the company formed by the programmers hired by the Georgia libraries to create Evergreen.

Evergreen has in part a much more carefully developed design than Koha which was possible because of the significant budget the state of Georgia was able to allocate for the development. However, the feature set is much smaller and to my knowledge they have yet to attend to many design and user interface problems for how library systems should function. [Programmers who do not have a solid understanding of the users tasks and methodology often make mistakes when designing something for others to use and not themselves.]

Evergreen is written in Perl with a Postgres database.

Evergreen is licensed under GPL 2, with an or later version invocation.

3.7. Other Free Software Systems.

There are a few primitive systems which emerged around 2000 and did not receive much development. PHPMyLibrary is one I remember. Such systems which were created, had a little development for a couple of years, and then were mostly abandoned except perhaps at the few small libraries which adopted them. Such systems are best avoided given the better choices.

4. Proprietary Systems.

The following are proprietary systems which may be within the budget of a small church library. LibLime Enterprise Koha is likely to exceed the budget of a small church library but is included for completeness.

4.1. CyberTools for Libraries.

CyberTools for Libraries is a web based library automation system which was first introduced in 2000, . I am not certain of their pricing.

4.2. Library World.

Library World is a relatively new web based library automation system which is probably the cheapest proprietary library automation system, .

4.3. LibLime Enterprise Koha.

In 2009, LibLime announced LibLime Enterprise Koha, LLEK, which is based on code developed in the previous year and which had previously be announced would be contributed to the main community branch, . The software is a web hosted service for which they do not distribute the current source code to users. The stated policy of PTFS/LibLime is to release code for old versions periodically but not the code for the version which the users are currently actually use.

Like Koha, LLEK is written in Perl with a MySQL database and Zebra indexing.

Any released source code would necessarily be under GPL 2, which has historically had an or later version invocation, the license terms for Koha. [Unless otherwise resolved, the GPL 2 only license for the automated checkout code would prevent upgrading the license for any released copy of the work as a whole.]

"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." - Bert Lantz