Open Source Software – Free Stuff is Good

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One of the most wonderful aspects of the modern technological world, Web 2.0. or whatever we call the new state of digitized wave length life, is that it is not always possible to monetize everything.

Oh,  we keep trying. Through copyright  laws we attempt to keep an eye on who created what, or what company is going to benefit from the  newest computer development.

But as the young generation keeps proving, by being on the vanguard of ‘share ware’,  it can be difficult to keep a stranglehold on the creation or creators.

The theory of built in obsolescence, so obvious in our technological world, produces waste. Why should the newest printer be built so that it is not compatible with the last one. How many printers end up in landfills, dripping toxic sludge into the ground, because a corporation decides that they can make an extra million by changing the format so that the old technology cannot be altered to keep up with the newest.

Similarily, too many software programs with simliar but slightly different systems just clog the market and make interoperability a nightmare.

Just as the public is beginning to demand a more environmentally conscious business platform for computers, the librarians who have limited budgets are  looking for solutions that offer more and cost less.

Young people can affect change in so many ways, but one of the more effective ways is by their market share or actual consumption.

It is mostly young people who create and use software, and in many cases they want a more effective software program more than they want the monetary value of prime ownership.

Remarkable sites and software are being created with this idealistic  and pragmatic attitude by people who know they can pay less and get more with a little cooperation.

Open Source Software is a good example of this attitude;  a software  that libraries can use to organize their course and article resources that is relatively cheap or free, and collaborative.

Open Source Software allows librarians to get a good collaborative system with no capital outlay and no on-going support payments.  The product has been developed in an open sharing environment  among a group of libraries, and that environment has created an up-to-date and flexible system.

Wally Grotophorst, the original developer of Open Source Course Reserves,  describes OSS as ” software that continuously goes through the peer-review process”.  People are continually working together to improve the system, without expectation of a pay out.

The only disadvantages of OSS  is that the library that uploads a free OSS  is expecting their staff to have fairly good  expertise in software programming. And,  they will not be offered any help from an original company to get the system up and running or offer on-going support for the glitches that will inevitably turn up.

However, librarians are a thrifty and crafty bunch,  so website such as ” http://creativelibrarian.com/library-oss/” are out there to help each other find the Open Source Software that is best suited to their library.

Librarians, they can be canny, and revolutionary.

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Content Enrichment Services

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The more access to information we have, the more we want. But in the case of Content Enrichment Services,  it is not so much that we want more text, but that we want an enriched text.

Say you are searching for a book about C.S. Lewis and have in mind a book that you remember from your grandfather’s library. You might have a picture in your mind of the cover, and an idea that it was written by a colleague of Lewis’ but you you don’t know what his name was.

In a content enriched library catalogue  you would benefit  enormously from a MARC record that included book jacket images and a biography of the author.

The ability to read the summary or Table of Contents from a book gives the researcher evaluative information that is very useful. The Table of Contents, for example, will pinpoint to the researcher whether the book will discuss a specific topic for their research project.

Annotations, inside pages and examples of illustrations will give the researcher a glimpse  into the book as a physical object.

Of course the object being catalgued is not necessarily a book;  items like CDs, record covers or sheet music would all benefit from Enriched Content Services.

With some texts or items, the writing that has been added to the original text is as important as the original item.  What about a collectible book with interesting writing in the margins?

I am also thinking about my grandmother’s recipe box, a small tarnished golden box jammed with index cards and folded recipes.

I can transcribe those recipes and put them an a database, but I will lose something  in the translation. The most popular recipes are on worn out index cards, with yellowing spots from spilled ingredients.

The folded magazine articles that high-light recipes that save on butter and sugar for war time kitchens are collectibles. But most importantly, the recipes are in my grandmothers’ hand writing.

The only way to preserve these recipes, other than holding on to that little box and passing it on to my kids, is to scan and store the information.  In that way I will  preserve an item that is a piece of history.

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Hello!

I am half way through Module Five and still reeling from the information. It seems to make sense as I read it but when I move forward to try to apply the information I feel as if I am struggling to understand a foreign country’s transit system without really knowing the language!

In terms of the first part of the second assignment, I have subscribed to all the student blogs through Google Reader. The only problem with this approach may be that Google has done much of the technical work for me (something I would normally approve of) and now I still do not know how to find the OPML address.

A good side effect of this section of the assignment is getting a chance to see EVERYONE’s blogs. I am impressed with how amusing and interesting they all are. This is likely a testament to the type of person who likes book and libraries; people who like to read are usually fairly good writers and that makes for a good blog!

I am sure I will figure out how to make a blogroll eventually. It is funny how much  anxiety is produced by my ignorance. As Gillian said in one of her comments  to one of our blogs, ‘Learning about a new technology is about playing’, so I am trying to remember to take that attitude, as opposed to the anxious teeth gritting one that can take over when I feel lost.

This anecdote will date me, but I still remember my only experience in teaching a new technology. While living in B.C. in 1990 I was teaching some women in my office how to use an electronic typewriter with word processing, and the women were terrified of making a mistake.

“Is it this button, should I push this? Agh! Is that ok?”  At the time I was the young gal teaching the old hands, and I was amused by their fear and hesitancy. Now I am the student, and I know my furrowed brow is  amusing to my daughter!

So I remind myself, on a mantra like basis, this is straight forward information, don’t complicate it!

Now back to the puzzle,

Meg

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Facebook finds: Protesting Librarians

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Found on Facebook

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Found this image on Facebook – with a lot of likes!

 

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