Thursday, October 26, 2006

LITA Forum 2006 - Open Source Installfest I

This preconference session was held in a computer lab in the beautiful Nashville Public Library. Gary Wan, Texas A&M University Library presented an introduction to what are arguably the crown jewels in the open source library software world: the Koha integrated library automation system, the Greenstone digital library system, the Swish-e indexer, and the Wordpress blogging software.

Beginning with an introduction to the concepts of open source software, Gary proceeded to describe in some detail the ins and outs of a typical Koha install, and invited attendees to connect via the web interface to a test installation of Koha on his laptop. While it was a great idea to offer a live test system to play with, there was little data in the test system, which limited what users could do. Perhaps to keep things simple, the pages on the test system had not been customized and did not show the current state of Koha design (for that see the opac of the West Liberty Public Library ). And none of the wonders promised with Koha 3.0 were mentioned. Still, a good, and uncomplicated introduction.

Greenstone was also described in some detail, and illustrated with a test install made accessible to attendees. Gary gave a little more attention to installing on Windows this time (he had wisely warned against trying the notoriously problematic Koha for Windows), but as Greenstone works fine on Windows, it was given equal time. Again, a good introduction that could have been more interesting with more data and flashier examples (like this).

Swish-e seems a humble program by comparison to Koha and Greenstone, yet Gary showed how it could play an important role in small web sites by providing a fast, simple indexer. And Wordpress was described briefly also. But to be honest, by this time in the proceedings my mind was straying to the promised trays of cookies awaiting us in another room, so I welcomed the brevity. "Installfest: come for the Koha, stay for the cookies!"

After Gary wrapped up with a perfunctory mention of a few other tools (Prospero, OpenILL, OpenAAQ and Jybe), which seemed better left to the "for more information" handout,
Amy DeGroff and Luis Salazar of the Howard County Library introduced themselves and promised great things (and a free disc!) tomorrow in the second session when they will describe their pioneering work bringing open source to their library.

Tune in tomorrow, same bat time, same bat channel, er... blog.

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