Open Source for Libraries

August 2, 2006 at 1:54 pm Leave a comment

I’m a huge fan of the open source movement. To start with, my preferred operating system is Linux, and where possible I try and convince people to use open source software. There are a number of really good arguments for taking this route. My favourite can be illustrated with this example. Microsoft released two different office applications: Microsoft Office, and Microsoft Works. One member of our organisation insists on using Microsoft Works to produce his spreadsheets, the rest of the organisation uses Microsoft Office. While Microsoft was kind enough to release a converter for Works word processor files, they did not release a converter for Works spreadsheet files. Unfortunately, the result is the Microsoft Excel is unable to open any of the spreadsheets produced by the misguided user in our organisation. Because the document format is closed source, if the user is not contactable, there is no way for us to open his documents without actually purchasing a copy of Microsoft Works. Sheesh! And they wonder why there is piracy in the world. So how does open source software help overcome these problems? Well, for instance, in the above example, using an open document format would mean that anybody who had run into a similar problem could write their own converter. In fact, if everybody agreed on standard open document formats, you would be able to choose whichever application you preferred, and be confident that a) your document could be read by anybody else; and b) that if your software became obsolete, there is bound to be some software available that can make sense of your documents. Its a pity that Microsoft Office has become so ubiquitous. The world would be a much better place if people started using open source and free office suites like

Anyway, I didn’t really mean to get into a huge discussion about open source software, but I guess more people need to wake up to these issues as time goes on. And I was somewhat inspired and really excited when I found the oss4lib site, which is already proving a valuable resource. Somehow the fusion of open source and library stuff makes sense. Since they both have a communitarian sharing spirit, and their backgrounds are grounded in the very roots of the internet. This site provides a wealth of resource and news about open source projects that are related in some way to libraries, and I was glad to see some more support for the movement coming from the bibliophilic world.

And, on a completely unrelated note, I found this useful page  of resources for book collectors. Check it out.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

Photographic Innovation: Prokudin-Gorskii Alibris goes direct

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

Recent Posts

RSS New books at Shapero’s

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

RSS New Books at Maggs

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.

%d bloggers like this: