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OSS ILS Research

Open Source Integrated Library Systems Website:

leaf logoA website, Open Source ILS, is available as a resource for librarians and anyone interested in open source software integrated library systems (OSS ILS). OSS ILS are exciting new developments in the library world and offer libraries the chance to control their data, customize their software, and choose from multiple support sources. Open Source ILS seeks to be a starting point for librarians who are new to OSS ILS and is the first website to consolidate resources on systems such as Evergreen and Koha in a single place.

Open Source ILS is the product of an IMLS grant-funded study of technical support options for proprietary and open source ILS. Dr. Vandana Singh, assistant professor at the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, is the lead researcher on this multi-year project.  Each phase collected data about support channels for various ILS and included interviews with librarians who shared their experiences and recommendations. Researchers analyzed the collected data to determine the technical support expectations of librarians and the realities of the support received.

In the third year of the project researchers interviewed adopters of OSS ILS in order to find out more about the process of migrating to an open source solution. The site offers best practices gleaned from these interviews with open source ILS adopters on subjects such as evaluating, migrating to, and customizing and maintaining these systems. In the course of the study, researchers also found that while there are a number of resources available about OSS ILS, finding them is often not easy and requires visits to several different websites to compile information.

Choosing an ILS is a major step for any library system and requires librarians to evaluate the features, costs, and ongoing maintenance requirements of the system. Open Source ILS is an effort to create a portal that will contain useful information about different systems and the steps necessary to migrate to them. Links to additional information are included for each subject. These sources include vendor websites, community documentation, and a variety of technical support resources.  Open Source ILS lists these resources for each facet of the ILS migration process so that librarians can easily access them from a single location. Other features of the website include an internal blog, forum, and screencast tutorials.

For more information, please visit the website at

ILS Research Project:

IMLSIn this Early Career Development project, Vandana Singh of the School of Information Sciences at the University of Tennessee Knoxville compared the level of technical support required by open-source integrated library systems (the computer systems used to acquire, manage, and circulate library materials) and the off-the-shelf, proprietary versions of these systems. This research project seeks to better inform librarians about the maintenance and management costs associated with one of the key tools that they use to serve the public.

In phase 1 of this research project (Aug 2009 – July 2010), we collected data regarding the expectations of librarians for technical support and the available channels of technical support. This phase will identify the expectations of librarians about technical support for ILS (both open source software e.g. Koha, Evergreen, Greenstone and proprietary software e.g. Voyager, Athena, SyrsiDynix) and will assess the effectiveness of the current channels and processes for technical support in satisfying the expectations of the librarians.

In phase 2 of this research project (Aug 2010 – July 2011), we collected data regarding the available channels of technical support for integrated library systems. We identified the technical support channels for ILS (both open source software e.g. Koha, Evergreen, Greenstone and proprietary software e.g. Voyager, Athena, SyrsiDynix) and analyzed the interactions of help giving for both paid and unpaid technical support.

In phase 3 of this research project (Aug 2011 – July 2012), we collected data regarding the experiences of librarians who have installed open source integrated library systems. We questioned librarians in different stages of implementation in order to compile recommendations and best practices for other libraries that are interested in changing their ILS. These results will be posted to this website as well as the results of the earlier phases.

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