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Feedback from the EIFL library community suggested that one of the key barriers to a greater number of FOSS deployments was a lack of effective advocacy guidance.
In response to this, EIFL-FOSS created a FOSS Advocacy Resource. It is aimed at both:
The resource includes a brief overview and rationale for using FOSS; and links to more information about major library FOSS tools. It also includes an extensive analysis of two key considerations when deciding to implement a FOSS solution: 1) total cost of ownership (TCO) and 2) intangible costs/benefits.
The resource is designed so that you can easily skim through the major headings if you have little time available, and you can also drill down into more detailed information if you want to find out more.
Following a survey of library directors and FOSS Coordinators and feedback at the 2011 EIFL General Assembly and 2011 EIFL FOSS Regional Training Seminar, the resource is now ready for general release.
Access the EIFL FOSS Library Advocacy Resource here
Read a short briefing here (PDF).
Library Software Costs Comparison Worksheet
To help with decision-making, a Library Software Costs Comparison Worksheet is provided that will help to objectively compare COTS (Commercial, Off The Shelf) software with FOSS software. The worksheet should be used in context with the Advocacy Resource to set it into context. The worksheet has been made a downloadable resource to enable users to print it out and complete it with their own data. Download the worksheet (PDF).
If accessing the resource online is not ideal for you, it is possible to download the resource and view it offline - it works in any browser just the same as it would online. Here are the steps to take:
In October 2010 EIFL FOSS asked FOSS Coordinators what they felt were the biggest barriers to greater FOSS usage in their libraries. The most common response was that there was a communication or information gap between libary technicians and library directors / decision-makers. Technicians were often not aware of the best ways to present information to directors and decision-makers, or of the precise information directors would need to be able to make a swift and effective decision.
As a result of this information, in December 2010 and January 2011, EIFL conducted a survey of Library Directors to establish what kind of information they would need in order to effectively make a decision upon implementing a FOSS tool in their library. Over two-thirds of libraries reported already using at least one FOSS tool (repository and library systems software being the most common) and almost all were planning to investigate or adopt more FOSS tools during the next two years.
The library directors responding expressed a need for a guidance resource, covering the key considerations that need to be made, particularly when comparing FOSS and COTS (Commercial, Off The Shelf) tools. Technical, financial and practical considerations were all high on their agenda.
If a library is to make effective use of technology across its operations, it must be driven by a senior manager, ideally a library director, setting the strategy and ensuring that those charged with implementation (library technicians) are fully resourced. The resource is aimed at all of the people involved in making decisions about FOSS usage in libraries: Library Directors, Library Head of IT, Head Systems Librarian, Library Board/Governors, University Head, University IT Head - in each unique context there will be others.