On June 16, the Technology Resource Foundation will announce a free Web-based Integrated Library System called OpenBook at the American Library Association (ALA) annual conference in San Francisco. The system offers flexible, sophisticated automation to small- to mid-sized public or school libraries and was created by the Seattle-based nonprofit to increase digital access to information.
OpenBook uses OpenSource code to offer a low-cost, simple-to-use system rich in features generally found only in high-end systems. The current technical beta version includes complex searching capabilities, a full bibliographic record with external resource linking as defined in MARC21, and a cataloging function that is MARC21 compatible. Some distinctive features include:
- Low cost. OpenBook can automate, for example, a small library of 10,000 records for under $1,000 for server hardware and $0 for the operating system. There are NO per user license fees!
- A completely Web-based cataloging system that is very simple to use, works with any existing hardware or software, and supports all popular browsers.
- Combines total capture and retention of all MARC21 fields with custom configuration of cataloging display fields.
- A multi-lingual interface that can be displayed in any Roman-character language.
- Patron ability to access the system from home using any Web browser-capable computer.
- Enhanced safety features, including back up, restore, and purge without losing.
- A Home Page development template.
In an upcoming release, OpenBook also will include a full circulation module and other features such as Z390.5 server and client capability to allow for integration into a cooperative library system or community college campus.
"Libraries are critical to information access, which is at the heart of a healthy democracy. We created OpenBook to enable libraries, regardless of their financial resources, to automate and improve their ability to serve patrons," explained Willem Scholten, executive director of the foundation. Prior to founding the Technology Resource Foundation, Scholten worked with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bring thousands of libraries in needy communities online. He will be speaking Sunday, June 17 at the ALA conference on Web Tools and Digital Resources: OpenSource Then and Now.
"OpenBook offers such a complete and affordable solution that it is being received enthusiastically both here and abroad," Scholten said. "Because it's written in OpenSource code, we have university professors who are very excited about using it to challenge their students to add to the system and make even better. That's the beauty of OpenSource — it allows us to have a constantly improving product, with all users sharing the benefits of each others' learnings."
ALA conference attendees can visit the Technology Resource Foundation, booth number 130, to try OpenBook. The system will be available for a test drive through the Technology Resource Foundation Web site at www.trfoundation.org.
OpenBook developed as a modification of Koha, the first free OpenSource library system created in New Zealand by the Horowhenua Library Trust and Katipo Communications Ltd. The Technology Resource Foundation's OpenBook design team, which is comprised of experienced librarians and programmers, used Koha as a basis to develop OpenBook from the ground up. OpenBook is GPL licensed and no user fees or other licensing charges are incurred by the installing library.
The Technology Resource Foundation, funded by a generous start-up grant from the Waitt Family Foundation, develops and pilots model programs and online resources to increase digital access to information in the very poorest communities. In particular, it works to develop low- cost, low-bandwidth technologies for use in public access labs, libraries and schools.