Last week I had the opportunity to speak to some wonderful library employees at the New Jersey Association of Library Assistants (NJALA) conference. My talk was entitled, “Thinking Openly: Open Source for Libraries” and was on open source (of course). It was met with a lot of interest and enthusiasm.
I spoke about what open source is and is not, and about why libraries should care. Open source makes sense for libraries because they both believe that information should be freely accessible to everyone; both give away stuff; both benefit from the generosity of others; both are about community; and both make the world a better place!
Open source, especially the Koha ILS, makes extra good sense in NJ for libraries because there is actually FREE hosting available for Koha through JerseyConnect! JerseyConnect can host your Koha system as a virtual server at no cost to you, so you won’t need to purchase any hardware.
According to David Dean, JerseyConnect Operations, “Our infrastructure is enterprise-grade, fully fault-tolerant, and well-connected to libraries and the public throughout New Jersey via our statewide network and multiple ISPs.” This hosting is free ONLY for the use of the Koha ILS. This shows such great support for the use of open source in New Jersey!
For more information on that you can contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The rest of my talk consisted of sharing examples of who is using open source (businesses, schools, governments, libraries) and examples of open source software, both for professional and personal use. Some excellent questions were asked. One person asked about support for open source and how good it is. I mentioned that there are several options for support, and that with ByWater for example, customer service is a major priority! I was also asked about how large of a library could be supported. I assured her that there are very large libraries using Koha and that libraries with multi-branches are definitely supported!
It was great to find out that many library directors in New Jersey are interested in open source and had asked their employees to attend this talk to find out more. It was also very gratifying to find out that many libraries are already using open source software such as LibreOffice for computing on public computers, and libraryh3lp for chat. There were also individuals using Zotero and, of course, many users of Firefox.
All in all, it was great to share information with these members of NJALA and I expect to see the use of open source only grow even more in the Garden State!