free culture, free software: making free software work for cultural heritage organizations

open source bridge 2016. portland, or.

Jennie Rose Halperin

Creative Commons

why listen to me?

from a feminist zine archive

to curating exhibits about libraries

to working on an open-source project of Appalachian folk music

to interning at a Berlin museum and archive

to cataloging rare materials at a medical library

to community management for a large open source project

to traditional publishing

to communicating the commons...

I am passionate about open, DIY, messy, collaborative, free culture

I believe that...

radically transparent solutions, an emphasis on community, and consensus based decision-making will make your work more inclusive, more exciting, and maybe even more fun

this is not a talk about "how can I bring linux to my public library?"

(but I am happy to discuss this later)

What is a cultural heritage organization?

Cultural heritage organizations are fundamentally aligned with FLOSS.

Participation time!

What are some cultural heritage institutions that you regularly interact with?

The work of cultural heritage organizations cannot be separated from the free culture movement

For me, [free culture] is important for the same reasons I feel thrilled to step into a library and read, learn, and explore to my heart’s content. Initiatives that contribute to a truly global repository — or, more fittingly, library — of ideas almost always bring about about public good.

Lawrence Lessig, "The Spirit of Public Libraries," 2005, CC-by-3.0

We state these propositions neither lightly nor as easy generalizations. We here stake out a lofty claim for the value of the written word. We do so because we believe that it is possessed of enormous variety and usefulness, worthy of cherishing and keeping free. We realize that the application of these propositions may mean the dissemination of ideas and manners of expression that are repugnant to many persons. We do not state these propositions in the comfortable belief that what people read is unimportant. We believe rather that what people read is deeply important; that ideas can be dangerous; but that the suppression of ideas is fatal to a democratic society. Freedom itself is a dangerous way of life, but it is ours.

ALA Freedom to Read Statement

BUT!

GLAM institutions mostly use closed source products for their systems and patrons

An example from the Library World

Proprietary ILS

  • Auto-Graphics, Inc.

  • Biblionix

  • Book Systems, Inc.

  • COMPanion

  • Cyber Tools for Libraries

  • EOS

  • Ex Libris

  • Follett Software Company

  • Innovative Interfaces

  • Library World

  • Mandarin Library Automation

  • Polaris Library Systems

  • SirsiDynix

  • The Library Corporation

Open Source ILS

  • BiblioteQ

  • Evergreen

  • Koha

  • OpenBiblio

  • phpMyLibrary

Proprietary OPAC

  • Aquabrowser

  • Axiell Arena

  • Bibliocommons

  • Carmen (LANius)

  • CS Library

  • DIMDATA ILS

  • Ebsco Discovery Service

  • Encore

  • Libramatic

  • The Library Corporation (TLC)

Open Source OPAC

  • Avanti MicroLCS
  • Blacklight OPAC
  • Evergreen
  • Invenio
  • jOPAC
  • Koha
  • Omeka
  • OpenBiblio
  • OpenSiteSearch
  • PhpMyBibli
  • Rapi package
  • Scriblio
  • Social Online Public Access Catalog (SOPAC)
  • Steve.museum
  • VuFind
  • Polaris Library Systems

  • Primo (ExLibris)

  • Prism 3 (Capita)

  • Retrievo (KEEP SOLUTIONS)

  • Serials Solutions Summon

  • VTLS Inc.

  • WorldCat Local (OCLC)

via Wikipedia

"Librarians are vendor-trained"

Mozilla Libraries and Open Source Focus Group, January 2014

Research says that open source is generally a good choice for cultural heritage organizations

(see Bibliography for articles on the topic)

But adoption has been slow and hotly contested.

The stakes here pit community-based development against development of proprietary software by commercial companies. Libraries value open source options and yearn for less expensive software and flexibility often not delivered by proprietary products, but an alternative will prevail only if it has superior functionality.

Marshall Breeding, "Library Systems Report," 2016

By the numbers:

(via Marshall Breeding, 2014)

Koha (distributed by Bywater): ~1000 installs in the US (more popular in developing countries)

EBSCO (mid-to-large-sized proprietary vendor): 6000 installations in the US alone

A note on distributors of ILS systems...

When considering how we can use technology, librarians must remember our core values, and our mission of empowering an informed and free citizenry.

Hugh Rundle, "Who are you Empowering?" In the Library with the Lead Pipe

"... when considering whether an open source project is right for your library, evaluating how your efforts will be received and valued by the open source community you are joining should be a key factor in your decision. And to make that determination, start by looking for how the community governs itself."

Peter Murray, "Governance in Open Source Software Projects"

A few prominent FOSS4Lib projects...

(all images courtesy of their affiliated project, copyright status unknown)

These projects are cool!  Why aren't all cultural heritage organizations using them?

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$!

The first rule of proprietary software is you don't talk about proprietary software.

Lack of exposure/ knowledge/ perceived lack of technical expertise.

Let's help cultural heritage organizations reinvest in people, not products.

Factors to consider:

  • How good is the documentation?
  • How are changes or new code committed?
  • Does this project meet my institution's needs?
  • How much does this project cost in the short and the long run?
  • How strong is this community?
  • Can non-coders submit bugs?
  • What other institutions are participating in this project?

What are some ways that FLOSS and GLAM can support each other?

Case study: Kuali's "community source" model...

2004: Kuali emerges  with a "community source" or "build together" model to solve the problems that many universities are trying to solve

Community source is a form of open source that is based on institutional, rather than individual, participation and adoption... this is software for higher education built by higher education.

Phil Hill, "Kuali: A Primer for Community Source Administrative Systems in Higher Ed"

It is a new model for both open source and the university system, but is uniquely suited to the university system because it involves collaboratively solving problems across the university landscape

"The mission is not for the Kuali Foundation to succeed­—the mission is for colleges and universities to succeed"

Brad Wheeler in Chronicle of Higher Education April 2014

Case study: Arches + Institute for Digital Archaeology

Arches grew out of the collaborative effort to create the Middle Eastern Geodatabase for Antiquities, and the widespread need within the heritage field for low-cost electronic inventories that are easy to use and access.

Arches Project

Photo: CC-by-SA 4.0, courtesy of Arches Project

Photo: CC-by-SA 4.0, courtesy of Arches Project

Photo: CC-by-SA 4.0, courtesy of Arches Project

We have created a heavily modified version of an inexpensive consumer 3D camera that will permit inexperienced users to capture archival-quality scans. The camera has the facility to upload these images automatically to database servers where they can be used for study or, if required, 3D replication. … Each camera contains an automated tutorial package that will help field users – local museum affiliates, imbedded military, NGO employees and volunteers – both to identify appropriate subject matters and to capture useable images. … All of the associated technology and software will be open-source to facilitate that goal.

Institute for Digital Archaeology

“Digital archaeology, in my view, is the best hope that we have for preserving the architecture, the art history of these sites... It provides an opportunity not only to record this for posterity, for scholars to be able to crowdsource interpretative information about the data that we collect.

Roger Michel, BBC Radio (via Hyperallergic)

bringing it all back home...

Improving FOSS4Lib empowers your community to take control of information, privacy, data, and working-togetherness.

FOSS is full of innovators who care about serving the needs of diverse communities

How to get involved!

thank you for your generous attention!

Get in touch!

jennie.halperin@gmail.com

jennierosehalperin.me

@little_wow

 

Want to be added to my bibliography on Zotero? Send me an email to see my sources!

free culture, free software

By Jennie Rose Halperin

free culture, free software

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