Thursday, October 15, 2009

The scalability of the open source business model in libraries...

I enjoy being part of the Library Gang 2.0 podcast series and this month we covered a topic that I felt particularly well suited to discuss, that of the scalability of the open source business model for libraries. Having worked over the years with some of the major open source software packages that libraries use (Index Data’s suite of products, FedoraCommons, DSpace and now Ex Libris’ Open Platform) as well as having founded and run a company that supported OSS for libraries, I truly have some real-world experience to share.

Those experiences have taught me that open source commercial (as opposed to pure community based) business models that succeed for library specific applications are nascent efforts. When they do succeed, they often share many similarities with proprietary software business models. On the other hand, many proprietary software business models are increasingly moving towards new collaborative models (for example, the Ex Libris
Open Platform). All of which supports my long time contention that the future business models for both open source and propriety software is neither as we know them to exist today. As in any evolutionary process, the best features of both will blend together to result in a new model for the future.

The latest
Library Gang 2.0 podcast examines some of the issues currently being wrestled with and also talks about the future of the ILS. Listen in, I think you’ll find it interesting.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

The difference between Google and libraries

There is a new article in Wired that is a powerful reminder of what distinguishes libraries from Google. The author says :
Those "with long memories remember the last time Google assembled a giant library that promised to rescue orphaned content for future generations. And the tattered remnants of that online archive are a cautionary tale in what happens when Google simply loses interest".
It is a useful read, not so much for librarians who already understand the differences, but for librarians to point those that question their existence or funding.

The author says it best at the end, when he says:
Its a reminder that Google is an advertising company — not a modern-day Library of Alexandria.
Libraries have value and important roles to play in our society. Reminders like this are useful.