Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Open Source ILS

We have been dissatisfied with our Horizon Integrated Library System, and have been exploring alternative options for quite some time, particularly since the demise of the promised Horizon 8. Most of the other ILS companies were either out of our budget or didn't seem to offer exactly what we were looking for, particularly in terms of customizability.

Which led us to explore Open Source as an alternative option. Support isn't free, but competition between vendors supporting the same product can drive the price down. And if there are features we want that aren't available yet, we can contract with someone specifically to develop them for us rather than rely on the magnanimity of a large company to listen to what we, a small library system, want. Not to mention the ideals of the Open Source community dovetail nicely with the ideals of the library world.

So, we explored our Open Source options, setting up servers running both Koha and Open-ILS (Evergreen), the two main open source options. We read their web sites, tested out their interfaces, poked around in some code, joined their mailing lists, and asked questions. Then we contacted vendors who do migration and support for quotes. Liblime is the main option for Koha, and Equinox is the primary option for Evergreen.

We were impressed with both products. Watch for future posts comparing what we found about these two options, the decisions we've come to, and why.

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