Category Archives: Open Source Software

Drupal and Libraries

One of my goals for the summer is to get a handle on Drupal. I’d like to incorporate it into LIS753 Internet Fundamentals and Design at Dominican. I’d like to assign workgroups the task of creating a library Web site with the OSS app. How’s the learning curve folks?

I missed this presentation, but luckily Ellyssa Kroski, who just got a great review for her book in LJ, put up “Drupal & Libraries” from CIL2008 at Slideshare – complete with audio track:

To get started, I’ll be listening and watching tomorrow in my office. Then, I’ll ask Blake for a sandbox. 

Michigan Consortium Goes Open Source

Michael Rogers — Library Journal, 4/22/2008 10:33:00 AM

  • Equinox providing migration service, software configuration, consultation, and support
  • Branch, Niles, and Traverse Area District Libraries will go live over the summer
  • Evergreen created by Georgia Public Library Service for the Georgia PINES consortium

The Michigan Library Consortium is going open source. The group April 14 announced that it has selected an Evergreen system as its next automation solution, as well as signing with Equinox Software Inc., which will “provide comprehensive library data migrations service, software configuration, consultation, and on-going Evergreen support.”

The consortium said it will “begin the conversion to Evergreen with a pilot group of libraries. Branch, Niles, and Traverse Area District Libraries will go live over the summer.” After the pilot libraries launch, other members will be invited to join. Evergreen was the brainchild of the Georgia Public Library Service for the Georgia PINES consortium, but has been made available to libraries through an open-source license.

COOL! Traverse Area District Library is one of my “home libraries.” I’ll be there this summer to checkout how it goes. maybe I can get a couple of the folks running the Evergreen transition to make a guest appearance at TTW.

What is today’s mystery word?

andLinux and Windows XP

We’re not going to geek out here but we need to talk about:
–Virtualizing XP,
–Restorable/Disposable Computing,
Read on and discover today’s mystery word. Spolier alert: this is a choose-your-own mystery word adventure.

Here we beg the document engineering question. Do most people need all the features that Microsoft Word offers? Most users think they need to “buy” software to be able to effectively design their documents. This is highly unlikely. We know most patrons do not know about free or open source software. Most people would be fine typing their paper in something as simple as Notepad or a free Word Processor like AbiWord. AbiWord has most of the features you need. If our patrons truly need to do advance document engineering, Word may or may not be the best candidate.

As for writing the paper, could we suggest to our users that 2-steps make a better writing process? First: pure, simple, hacking, away at the keyboard to produce their work of literary greatness. In Microsoft Word, there are far too many distractions to take you away from the task of writing. I’m sure you’ve played the Font Game, (Hmmmm, Times New Roman is starting to look dated…What about Verdana? Oh too modern). Possibly you have tweaked and re-tweaked your headers, footers and page numbering too? I usually do this when my forehead starts bleeding from trying to think of that elusive word while re-writing and re-writing and re-writing. Or maybe that’s just me.

Next, the intrepid writer can port their new literary work to a piece of software that will allow them to create a document with formal page margins, headers and footers, a cover page, image, sections, and tables. (Most email systems can be thought of as the first step in document creation too. Unless you’re constantly checking your email.) Users also seem to not know that you don’t need MS Office. Those patrons, unless doing very serious document formatting, can use a free word processing software to engineer the final copy.

Here’s the “converting a MS Office 2007 document” part for our user who gets home and can’t open the latest greatest file from Microsoft. For 2007, Microsoft changed file formats. Documents get an x tacked on now -actually it’s Microsoft’s version of XML. You get a strange look when you tell people they don’t need to buy the newest edition of Microsoft Office 2007 to open any of the new Office file formats. If they have a version of Office from 97-2003, there are no worries. They usually don’t believe me so I give them the quote below and this link in an email:

By installing the Compatibility Pack in addition to Microsoft Office 2000, Office XP, or Office 2003, you will be able to open, edit, and save files using the file formats new to Word, Excel, and PowerPoint 2007…

Also, it’s not a bad idea to inform your users to keep a copy of, say, their resume as a plain text file. Again, locking your most precious documents up in proprietary formats is not the wisest move.
What if you can’t afford to buy the newest software that will open those MS file formats? That’s speaking from experience. I’m sure you don’t do that. Also, it’s far less likely over time and multiple saves, that a simple text file will become corrupted. Again, the idea is to separate content from presentation while not getting crazy with it. Obviously your PowerPoint presentation should not be separated into images and a text file. Or should it? As long as you have an internet connection you’d have your presentation with Slidy. Some folks also use

–Virtualize XP
Getting used to playing with Microsoft Virtual PC will do two things for you. (Sorry, I know I am ignoring Macs here; forgive me.)
1. If you learn how to do a Microsoft Windows XP installation you will feel more empowered over your technology and will help yourself demystify some of what IT actually does. How so you say? The great thing about working on a virtual machine, as opposed to your own actual PC, is that you can break it with no care -recklessly. You just delete the virtual drive and start over.
2. Having a Virtual Machine on your own PC allows you to:
a.) test software you think you may need,
b.) test software patrons want you to install
c.) keep your PC “clean and secure” by not accelerating rot on windows. There are few others you can use like VMware but you have to use their virtual machine player and are limited to the VM builds they offer -unless you have the workstation edition to create your own virtual machines.

–Restorable/Disposable Computing
Imagine having disposable XP computing instances? Each time you reboot you have a new Windows installation. There are several programs you can use to secure your personal computer or the work computers you oversee. Microsoft SteadyState is not bad. Returnnil gives you controls to return your system to a pristine state. There are others and it can get quite costly. The free stuff holds its own though. Why would you do this? Public computers should be for public use. These kinds of controls give a user complete access to their PC. Maybe they need to install some software to do their taxes. Let them. Then reboot the computer and it’s back to your baseline image.

Finally, you’ve heard of Linux but don’t want to go through the trouble of installing it. With andLinux you can explore Linux and use thousands of Linux applications -from within Windows XP. Get a taste of Linux without getting all geeked out.

I guess we did just geek out. I’m choosing stenographic as my mystery word for today.

TTW Contributor: Lee LeBlanc

Open Source & Libraries

Via LISnews: 

There’s a “growing disconnect in what we’re being provided from commercial companies … and what libraries are starting to realize they need,” he said, but libraries aren’t blameless either: He believes they need to communicate more effectively the features and functionality they require. And just because it’s open source doesn’t mean it’s better. Soon enough, Gibbons suggested, open source innovations might spur competition and eventually result in more and better choices in the consumer market. 

Open Sesame

open sesame

Don’t miss Open Sesame where Open Source Evangelist Nicole Engard will be blogging and sharing:

This blog will be my platform and I want to hear from all of you who have stories to share or questions to ask. I want to learn from you as you learn from me and others. If you’ve heard me talk before you know that I’m an advocate for open-source solutions in libraries, I’ve found that the open-source community and the library community both follow a similar set of guidelines, making them the perfect partners in a push for change and enhancements for the library world.

In short, this introductory post of mine, is also a call for your assistance. For years I’ve been writing and presenting for those of us in library land and in all that time I’ve made it perfectly clear that I stand for learning. I don’t think that any one person holds all the knowledge, but I do think that librarians as a community hold a whole darn lot of it! It is for this reason that I think the best way to start in my new role is to ask to hear from all of you. I am looking for stories of how your library has used open source to improve work flow and productivity. I’m looking for stories of how open source has or hasn’t solved your problems. I’m looking to find answers to your commonly asked questions and to educate you about the pros and cons (yes, cons) of open-source solutions.

Congrats to Nicole C. Engard, New Open Source Evangelist at LibLime!

“Nicole’s passion for open source is inspiring,” says Joshua Ferraro, CEO of LibLime. “We’re excited to have Nicole fill this critical role of Open Source Evangelist, increasing awareness and facilitating education about open source in both the physical and virtual library communities.”

“I honestly believe the future of libraries is in open source,” says Nicole. “Libraries are at a pivotal point – things are changing rapidly around them – among them the traditional software and service models. Open Source software and the companies that support these packages allow libraries a freedom that they haven’t had in years. It is this freedom that excites me and I want to share that excitement with as many librarians as possible. I love that LibLime fills a major need in libraries. Many libraries cannot afford to have their own IT staff and so they write off Open Source as a viable option – LibLime makes it viable!”

Congrats Nicole! I’ve followed her outstanding “What I Learned Today” blog for years!