Introduction to open source

A useful introductory presentation that sets the scene and covers some of the core issues: What is Open Source? Why use it and who benefits. Keynote from Ken Chad at the UK e-information Group (UKeiG) annual seminar on 16 June 2010

Open source in UK public libraries

NOTE For a list of all UK Public Library authorities and the library technologies they use (LMS, RFID etc) go to the LGLibTech 'System Used' page

First UK public library

15th October 2010
Halton Borough Council has chosen the Koha open source library management system to replace its existing Dynix solution. PTFS Europe are carrying out the initial implementation and providing ongoing support. The system is hosted at the PTFS Europe data centre in Maidenhead. For further information see the PTFS Press Release

SEDAR Consortium (based on Evergreen and supported by PTFS)

  • Clackmannanshire Council Library Service is to join SEDAR, the Scottish consortium of public libraries in sharing the Evergreen library management system. Evergreen will replace an in-house developed system known as OWL that has served the council for many years. PTFS Europe will provide a range of implementation services, integrating the libraries within the existing SEDAR consortium and providing annual support. The system will be hosted at the PTFS Europe data centre in Manchester.(May 2012)

  • First open source LMS for a UK consortium shared service

    (February 2011)

    Stirling and East Dunbartonshire Councils have chosen the Evergreen open source library management system as a replacement for SirsiDynix Horizon. PTFS Europe are carrying out a full implementation and providing ongoing support. The system will be hosted at the PTFS Europe data centre in Maidenhead and is the first Evergreen installation in the UK’.

Open Source LMS

The only systems in UK public libraries are Koha and Evergreen


  • Demo versions of Koha can be found on the Koha website along with a user-generated listing of Koha Users Worldwide. LibLime have their own demos (one for public one for academic libraries) and links to their public and academic library OPACs that use Koha can be found on the LibLime web site
  • A feature comparison and lookup application for Koha (and Evergreen) is available at FOSS4LIB


  • At list of libraries using the Evergreen Open Source LMS is here
  • A feature comparison and lookup application for Evergreen (and Koha) is available at FOSS4LIB

Here is a list of some of the other types of libraries in the UK that have implemented or are in the process of implementing Open Source LMSs:-

Here is a list of some other types of library in the UK that have selected an Open Source LMS solution;
  1. The University of Staffordshire announced on 7th December that the library will be implementing Koha to replace their SirsiDynix system. Support and hosting of the systems with be provided by PTFS Europe. (See press release)
  2. British Library for Development Studies BLDS ( ) use Koha-- but just for Z39.50 services. Institute for Development Studies. Brighton BN1 9RE Email : Tel: (+44 1273) 915659
  3. Booz & Company (Management Consultants)
  4. CAMLIS - (Health Library)
  5. Dame Alice Owen's School - (School Library)
  6. UN Food & Agricultural Organisation - (Special Library)
  7. King's Fund - (Special/Health Library)
  8. Kettering NHS Trust Library - (Health Library)
  9. National Botanic Garden of Wales (implementation in progress as of March 2010) (Special Library)
  10. World Maritime University - (implementation in progress as of 2010 ) (Academic Library)

Companies supporting open source library systems (in the UK)

**PTFS Europe** provides the services needed to implement the Koha and Evergreen Library Management Systems.

**Turo Technology LLP** is a partnership of workers called It is "computer-related services" worker cooperative

NUCSOFT Ltd. Launched at CILIP LMS showcase event in November 2011
Uk Office Suite 9, Continental House, 497 Sunleigh Road, Alperton, London HA0 4LY

Open Source in Local Government

By way of a preamble there is a recent (August 2009) useful survey by Public Sector Forums on open source software in Local Government:-
Open or Closed. A survey of Open Source Software in Local Government
The report was sponsored by Bull and OnePoint Consulting. It is interesting that the most important factor in councils' decisions to chose open source was 'lower cost' and the biggest barriers were 'considered too risky' and 'lack of awareness'.

'Public Sector Forums, who host the UKGovOSS community, conducted research to examine the adoption, perceptions and experiences of open source technologies within UK local authorities. The survey, which preceded the publication of the UK Government Action Plan for Open Source on 24 February 2009, ran from 18 November to 12 December 2008 and was completed by 168 respondents'

Additional resources

Selecting an open source ILS (LMS)
How to Choose an Free and Open Source Integrated Library System,
By Tristan Müller. OCLC Systems & Services: International digital library perspectives. Vol. 27, no. 1, 2011, pp. 57- 78.
From the paper:-
'Findings: More than 20 open source ILS’s were submitted to this methodology but only 3 passed all the steps: Evergreen, Koha, and PMB. The main goal is not to identify the best open source ILS, but rather to highlight which, from the batch of dozen open source ILS, librarians and decision makers can choose from without worrying about how perennial or sustainable each open or free project is, as well as understanding which ILS provides them with the functionalities to meet the needs of their institutions.'

Open Source Open Libraries
Edgy Librarian 27th January 2011
Useful Q & A on open source for libraries

Open Source open libraries
US website 'empower libraries and library consortia by encouraging participation and collaboration in open source software products generally, and encouraging them to consider an Open Source Library System such as Koha or Evergreen'. Have useful links to things like features of systems and updates on implementations and issues

A 17th February 2010 podcast from the 'library 2.0' Gang' "Open Source Library Systems have definitely arrived. Nevertheless Marshall Breeding’s Perceptions 2009 report seems to indicate that the interest in open source systems, by those libraries with a proprietary system, is still not very high even for those expressing dissatisfaction with their current system.
At ALA Midwinter PTFS announced their intention to purchase the leading open source system support company LibLime. Just before the recording of this month’s show, they announced that PTFS and LibLime could not agree upon financial terms and have agreed not to proceed with the acquisition. So who better to join us as a guest on the show, than PTFS CEO, John Yokley.
We open the show with John providing an overview of PTFS, the LibLime situation, and his gerneral view of the market. Gang members Talin Bingham, Nicole Engard, and Frances Haugen, filled the positions round our virtual table for a view on how these events and survey results indicate a future for the open source sector".

The **** website has some useful information

**'Breaking down the barriers for open source library systems'** (link to full text)
By Ken Chad. Ken Chad Consulting Ltd
This article was originally published in CILIP Library+Information Gazette in April 2009

"Surveying Higher Education (HE) in 2007, the JISC and SCONUL commissioned study on the Library management Systems (LMS) Market revealed no appetite to move to Open Source LMSs. ‘No respondents thought that it was likely that they would adopt an Open Source LMS’. Public libraries took a similar stance. A debate in August 2007 on the public library discussion list, LIS-PUB-LIBS uncovered, no enthusiasm for an open source LMS. One respondent commented, 'Open Source' is “not yet” for libraries - we need a watching brief'.'Indeed the JISC/SCONUL LMS study came to a similar conclusion and in the section of the report entitled Making Decisions it recommended that libraries, ‘keep a watch on Open Source development’ Two years on and attitudes are changing. In April 2009 Karl Drinkwater, E-learning Adviser for the JISC Regional Support Centre Wales summarised (on the LIS-LINK listserve) some of the results of his investigations into Open Source. ‘It seems that a lot of institutions are considering the open source LMS route - most of those that responded were at this consideration stage, rather than implementation’."

Integrated library management systems: what we need
21st July 2009, by Sarah Bartlett

This is a thoughtful (Panlibus) blog post from Sarah Bartlett at Talis from a session at the (July) 2009 CILIP Under One Umbrella Conference . It puts Open Source into a wider perspective:-

Library 2.0 Gang Open Source Systems
12th August 2008, 11:10 am by Richard Wallis
Podcast :

"Open Source Software has been around for many years. Open Source components have been used to develop library systems since the late 1990’s. Koha, acknowledged as the first fully open source library system was launched by its New Zealand based developers in 2000. The growing interest around open source, stimulated by Koha, was given a significant boost when Georgia Public Libraries launched Evergreen in September 2006. We have two guests this month:
Karen G. Schneider, Community Librarian for Equinox Software, the support organisation which grew out of the Evergreen project.
L J Haravu Chief Domain Specialist, Verus Solutions Pvt., Ltd., Hyderabad India, the software company behind NewGenLib the Open Source library system successfully spreading across India and the Middle East.
Stimulated by the success of the organisations represented by our guests, the gang for this month – Nicole Engard, Talin Bingham, Andrew Nagy, Marshall Breeding, and Carl Grant – go on to discuss how Open Source Library Systems, and the open approach behind them, have changed the way all system suppliers both commercial and Open Source are delivering their systems and engaging with their customers".

Some more detailed (US) resources are:

Open Source Integrated Library Systems
by Marshall Breeding.
2008 ALA Techsource
This can be purchased from ALA. There is more information about it on the LTR Website

Abstract: In this issue, Breeding details the differences between using an open source approach to that of using conventional proprietary software for automated operations."In the past, our options were differentiated on the basis of features, functionality, price, and performance of the software and the perceived ability for a given company to develop its products into the future and provide adequate support. Do these factors differ with open source ILS products?"Breeding’s report can help answer that question as well as defines open source and provides an overview of the various open source options currently available to libraries, including Koha and Evergreen. In this eighth issue of Library Technology Reports in volume 44, you’ll find: Open source defined and a look at open source versus traditional licensing."The Commercial Angle," including total cost of ownership, vendor/product independence, and information about collaborative and sponsored development.An overview, including history and background, of major open source ILS products, with information about Koha, Evergreen, OPALS, and NewGenLib.Trends in open source ILS adoption, including geographic impact, licensing, and distribution.An overview of commercial support firms — including LibLime, Equinox Software, Media Flex, Versus Solutions, and Index Data — for open source ILSSpecifications for the technology components of an open source ILS, including the server operating system, Web servers, database engines, programming environments, and client environments.Information about standards as well as features and functionality of open source ILS, including the scope of the ILS; support for consortia; and information about the online catalog, circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, and serials control in the ILS.

“Open Source’ Integrated Library System Software
By Richard W. Boss
(Revisions completed December 14, 2008) (full text)

"A number of public libraries have been investigating “open source” integrated library system software. However, the percentage of libraries that would seriously consider implementing an open source ILS is still small, approximately three percent in a
survey of 80 North American libraries conducted by the author in October of 2008. Marshall Breeding of the Vanderbilt University Libraries came up with a similar figure in a much larger international survey in late 2007 ("

Survey of Open Source integrated Library Systems. A Thesis Presented to The Faculty of the School of Library and Information Science San José State University In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Library and Information Science
by Linda M. Riewe
August 2008 (full text)

Abstract "The purpose of this study is to compare integrated library system (ILS) costs and benefits, and to inform librarians about considerations when choosing between an open and a closed source ILS. A survey was conducted among libraries that used the largest open source ILSs, Koha and Evergreen, and various proprietary ILSs. Questions were asked about initial and annual costs. Questions about benefits took the form of satisfaction ratings. The questionnaire also asked why the ILS was selected, whether it
was customized, who hosted and serviced it, what problems were encountered, and library demographics.
The survey found that open source ILSs were more cost-effective than proprietary ILSs. Libraries using open source ILSs chose them mainly for affordability, and they cost less than proprietary ILSs. Although users of open source ILSs experienced difficulties with installation and incomplete documentation, they were modestly more satisfied than users of proprietary ILSs."

''Making a Business Case for Open Source ILS'
By Marshall Breeding. March. 2008 Information Today

Abstract: "We’re living in a phase of library automation characterized by an increased interest in open source-not just in back-end infrastructure components but also in the mission-critical business applications such as the integrated library system. Open source library automation systems, including Koha and Evergreen, have been propelled into the limelight. Recent survey data fails to corroborate broad interest that libraries are ready to adopt open source ILS. The success of early adopters of open source ILS now serve as a catalyst for others. Paths now exist with more mature systems and professional support options. As the open source movement matures, these system will need to compete on their own merits and not solely on a philosophical preference."