The Importance of Open Source Education in… Education!
I recently had the honor of presenting to library students regarding the ILS market and open source software in general. I was very happy to have this opportunity because there are still many people in the library world who are uncertain about the idea behind open source due to outdated perceptions of products that fall under this category. Those perceptions typically center around needing additional staff in order to utilize an open source product like Koha or Aspen. If a library chooses to undertake the migration and ongoing support and hosting of these products, I would agree that your library will need to hire additional staff. However, if you are using a reputable company like ByWater, your relationship with your ILS can completely change based on what you are trying to accomplish. For example, if you want to be completely hands off and not have to think about these systems we can tailor our support accordingly. If you want to dig in and get your hands dirty with bug testing, feature development, or just being involved in the many Communities that have formed around Koha or Aspen, we can guide you through getting more involved as well. The beauty with these products is that they can be whatever you want them to be and your relationship with your software can be just as customizable.
It is unfortunate when we hear that libraries have chosen not to adopt Koha because of these incorrect perceptions, and that they are missing out on all of the cost and functionality savings and features associated with these products. We try hard to reach as many individuals in the library world as possible, particularly those still in library school, so that they enter into this market with an accurate perception of the options available to their library. Koha Klassmates, a program offered by ByWater which provides a free installation of Koha for library students to play with, was created with that aim in mind. Over 45 library schools currently take advantage of this free, no strings, program and it’s success can be attributed to the fact that students need an actual working ILS to familiarize themselves with areas such as cataloging.
Whether you are a student just starting out or a seasoned professional, we have tutorials and educational resources available for you. At ByWater Solutions, we love giving back and providing enriching educational content for the open source community. Our team is made up of friendly and knowledgeable librarians, educators, and developers from all over the US. In 2020, we received the Outstanding Contribution to Koha Education and Documentation Award and in 2021 (and beyond), we are striving to expose even more people to the power, flexibility and freedom available in open source products.
Read more by Nathan Curulla