The November 2008 issue of SLN included a report on the development of an open source integrated library system as a successor product for libraries and information centers, primarily in the developing world, who make use of the ISIS family of information management software. This new product, called Automatización de Bibliotecas y Centros de Documentación, or ABCD, has been under development for the last year and saw the release of its first production version on December 3, 2009.
The release of ABCD Version 1.0 represents a major step forward for the ISIS community, both in creating its first true ILS and in shifting to an open source development model. While the ISIS software has always been made available to libraries without licensing costs, only the executable files were made available.
The ISIS software has been a mainstay of automation for libraries and documentation centers throughout the world due to its development and support from UNESCO beginning in the 1970’s. In recent years, the development of ISIS has not kept pace with advancements in technology and many organizations have moved to other library automation products. The use of ISISbased products has seen a particularly sharp decline in Europe. In the developing world, the domination of ISIS continues, though open source products such as Koha have seen their user base erode in many regions, especially in Latin America.
The development of ABCD was led and coordinated by BIREME, an organization based in São Paulo that develops and maintains information resources for health science in Latin America and the Caribbean. In recent years, BIREME has taken increasingly larger roles in the development of the ISIS software in partnership with UNESCO. The Flemish Inter-university Council has also been actively involved in the ISIS community and co-sponsored the ABCD development.
Two of the key individuals leading the project were Ernesto Spinak from BIREME and Egbert de Smet of the University of Antwerp The ISIS software finds use throughout the developing world and beyond.
Although not especially well known in the United States, it stands as the most widely implemented software for libraries and documentation centers throughout the world. While ABCD is not likely to see adoption in libraries in the United States, it is a major development in the realm of international library automation. BIREME has established a wiki that provides information and documentation about ABCD and offers the software for download: http://bvsmodelo.bvsalud.org/php/level .php?lang=en&component=27&item=13
Following the launch of ABCD, a number of workshops and training sessions have been organized in multiple venues in Latin America. The release of ABCD marks a new chapter in the evolution of the ISIS software family. Over the next few years, it will be interesting to observe whether ABCD is able to stave off the shift of libraries in the developing world toward other open source automation products.