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OSS Library Management Solutions? 37

spectre_240sx asks: "I work for a growing educational institution in need of a good database for its library. We're fairly small at the moment, and the cost of some of a decent commercial solution just isn't realistic in our situation. We'd rather spend that money on more books and better equipment for our labs. I'm sure I could come up with a usable database myself, but it would lack the refinement of a mature project and it would also be quite troublesome for me to find the time as I'm the only IT person at the school. Does anyone know of an open source solution that might suit our needs? 99% of the computers here are Mac OS X machines, and using X11 is a possibility, though a native (or web based) app would be preferable."
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OSS Library Management Solutions?

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  • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:40PM (#12303480)
    The program we use is Innovative Millenium []. While it is not free, it does run natively on OS X clients. It is Java Based and seems to work well.
    We've just had the 15th anniversary of the system, so it has been a good decision for us, by not having to change databases as the collection grew.

  • Koha (Score:4, Informative)

    by isn't my name ( 514234 ) <slash@threeno[ ].com ['rth' in gap]> on Thursday April 21, 2005 @12:46PM (#12303544)
    I've heard lots of good things about Koha []. I do not run library systems. I have never used Koha, but I have come across more than one article on it.

    Their first FAQ item:

    What is Koha*?/What can Koha do?

    Koha is intended to be:
    • a library catalogue front end/OPAC
    • a library system intranet
    • a circulation tracking system
    • an acquisitions/budgeting system

    You might also check out oss4lib []
    • I've used Koha and know people using and testing it.
      I've also used expensive systems like Notis, Aleph, Voyager, plus about four other major systems. I've also had the misfortune to be able to poke around the internals of some of those. None are good, though some have more drawbacks than others. Some that I haven't named are good others are really terrible.

      Koha is rather good. It is better than the commercial systems in some areas and still lacking in some others. What it's mainly missing is a high

    • Re:Koha (Score:2, Informative)

      by jonadab ( 583620 )
      When I was researching this for our library, Koha is the only open-source thing I found (and, I think there was also a fork of Koha, the name of which I forget, but it did not seem to be any better than Koha from what I could determine).

      Unfortunately, I also had to conclude that Koha is really not ready for real use. I looked at its capabilities, and it is really not anywhere near the same ballpark, in terms of functionality, let alone polish, as the various proprietary solutions that are available.

      We en
      • > But as far as Koha, I was not able to justify even mentioning it to my boss;
        > I looked at it, and it just plain wouldn't do a lot of what we really needed

        I really should add here that I'm not implying there won't be libraries who find it does everything they need; I was just stating what I found to be the case in our situation. We had specific pieces of functionality we were looking for, and Koha did not deliver. If it had been a couple of minor things, I could have thought about implementing the
      • Re:Koha (Score:3, Informative)

        The fork you speak of is OPALS-NA, which adds a *much* nicer user interface to Koha. There's also a newer version known as zOPALS that uses z39.50 servers/protocol for most import, search, and export duties. zOPALS also handles union catalogues across sites.

        We've been testing OPALS-NA at 6 sites (4 elementary schools, 1 secondary school, and 1 central library cataloguing site) for the past year. We've also been testing zOPALS for the past three months or so. Everyone is very impressed with it so far.

  • Delicious Library (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sachmet ( 10423 )
    Delicious Library [] may suit your needs until you get large enough that you need an industrial-strength solution.
    • Agreed. It's not open source. But it is OS X native, and at $40 a pop it's not very expensive either.
    • by Anonymous Coward []

      Fedora is a general purpose repository service developed jointly by The University of Virginia Library and Cornell University. The Fedora project is devoted to the goal of providing open-source repository software that can serve as the foundation for many types of information management systems.

      The software demonstrates how distributed digital information management can be deployed using web-based technologies, including XML and web services." []
    • Re:Delicious Library (Score:3, Informative)

      by babbage ( 61057 )

      Agreed. Delicious Library is a fantastic application that should be able to do a wonderful job with this. Out of the box, it already has support for some of the things that a real, physical, lending library would need:

      • It maintains a list of assets (books, movies, albums, video games), and will look up as much information about each asset as possible from Amazon's site
      • Inputting data is fairly easy if you have an iSight camera or their Bluetooth scanner. Once the bard code has been read, everything else h
      • They may be nice, but the flash animation [] on every one of their pages got me off their site as fast as I could.

        (Using Mozilla 1.7.2 on OS X 10.3.8 with, I see, Macromedia Flash Player 7.0 r24 in /Library/Internet Plug-Ins --> Spinning wheel with browser CPU usage at 90%.)

    • Delicious Library is awesome value for the price, but if you only want to do Books, then look at Books [] for Mac OS X. It's OSS and free (for now?).

      I don't know of any other apps for books which have not already been listed here... there are even less good ones for the PC...
  • Dspace. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 21, 2005 @01:05PM (#12303698) []

    "A groundbreaking digital repository system, DSpace captures, stores, indexes, preserves and redistributes an organization's research material in digital formats." []

    "KnownSpace is a data manager---something that can help users build, organize, reorganize, annotate, search, mine, visualize, and navigate large, heterogeneous, dynamic data spaces. The aim is to provide a uniform platform for researchers around the world to develop and disseminate software to provide better interfaces, more intelligent applications, and more sophisticated and uniform networking---all for free, with source code easily changeable and available to anyone."

    A possible front-end. []

    • Dspace is a good repository system. That's quite different from library systems which sometimes include a repository system for electronic resources.

      Dspace's job is digging up the document via searching or browsing. Lending a physical artifact, like a CD or a book, is not a task it is intended to track. So if your entire collection is wholly electronic and could be put on the web, then Dspace might be a good option.

  • huh ? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward
    How bout : = pro jects&Go.x=0&Go.y=0

    there are plenty available including
    1. Library Manager
    A library automation program. Author: Volkan YAZICI
    No screenshot
    [Development Status] 3 - Alpha
    [Environment] Web Environment
    [Intended Audience] End Users/Desktop
    [License] OSI Approved :: GNU General Public License (GPL)
    [Operating System] OS Independent
    [Programming Language] PHP, SQL
    [Topic] Da
  • I've been searching for such an app too. OSS, should have the ability to import data from amazon by scanning the barcode of the book, cross-platform, including an OPAC.. Suggestions anyone? Thanks.
    • > OSS, should have the ability to import data from amazon by scanning the
      > barcode of the book, cross-platform, including an OPAC.. Suggestions anyone?

      That part's easy. A quick hack using WWW::Mechanize could be thrown together in probably under an hour, to retrieve what info is available from Amazon. PAC would take quite a bit longer, because of the sheer amount of functionality involved in a good PAC, but no individual part of it is hard. The cross-platform part does not add more than perhaps 5%
  • by escowles ( 526641 )
    It seems like a lot of people are confused by the term "library management system". There are really two categories here, depending on what kind of stuff you're organizing:

    If you're talking about books, slides, and other physical items, then you need an OPAC or something like it. Delicious Library was suggested, but I'd guess that it wouldn't scale to meet your needs. Koha looks like a better bet. I haven't tried it out yet, but it definitely looks promising. I've been surprised that there isn't a maj

  • Koha, plus... (Score:2, Informative)

    by Cryptonom ( 653167 )
    You definitely want Koha [] ( For Koha support, and special flavors: LibLime [] ( and for even more library goodness, Keystone [] (
  • by Roadkills-R-Us ( 122219 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @02:16PM (#12304391) Homepage
    Start here:

    This is a build of RedHat's EL by a public library system in Louisiana. They run servers and at least 50 workstations off this. I don't know if their LMS is ISS or not, but it's worth asking.

    The library's site is:

    anbd includes link to online research and an online catalog. (The online catalog is unavailable as I type this).
  • There was an open source/freeware project being worked on in Sweden several years ago - the only information I can find on it now is here []. It might help if I spoke something besides English...

    They were using an NT machine to do some of the work, but the database behind it all was MySQL. They were working towards a web interface too. The database layout from that or another project could be really useful - especially if they can handle everything thrown at them by OCLC and MARC records.

    I say with the

  • A really open-source version might be Alexandria [].
    Written in ruby, runs on Gnome.
  • OSS4lib, Koha, etc. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Noksagt ( 69097 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @04:46PM (#12306392) Homepage
    I am a developer involved with refbase []. I say that not to plug the product (it is a bit minimalist for a real library, but there are many individuals, research groups and departments who use it to host papers), but so you know where I'm coming from. I have interacted with the open source bibliographic community & have tried many products & keep an ear to many others.

    First, check out the oss4lib blog [] and openbib []. These will point you to a lot of other good material.

    Next, absolutely download , which is one of the most full-featured & comprehensive library solution that the F/OSS community currently has. []

    I personally thing cheshire [] deserves a shout out too. A clean, FAST python-backed online catalogue with cross-site searching & conforming to a lot of nice standards like MODS.

    You should also keep an eye for developments from bibliophile []. This is a collaboration between many players of F/OSS literature databases.
  • First, I must point out my potential biases. I work as a software engineer for a particular prominent integrated library system company.

    I've recently had the need to think about open-source library systems. They appear to be cheap but you need to consider the support implications. Library software, like all software, has bugs in it and library software is particularly complicated making it hard to rigorously test. Who are you going to call when something doesn't work right? Who's going to fix the bugs
    • My experiance with software (outside of the library world) has been with both Open Source projects and Proprietary closed source companies.
      Often with commercial software you dont get support. You have to pay per incident or pay a regular support fee. There is nothing wrong with this, but it does make the cost less attractive.
      With non commercial software you need to get a feel for what support groups ther are, be it from the developers, newsgroups, user mailing lists or the projects website.
  • OpenBiblio (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Micah Stetson ( 96059 ) on Thursday April 21, 2005 @09:45PM (#12309421)
    OpenBiblio might be a good fit. It's written in PHP and uses MySQL for its database engine. It was very easy to install, and I have it working on NetBSD, GNU/Linux, and several versions of Windows. Since we put it in, we've gotten a constant stream of good comments from our patrons and our library personnel -- mostly about how easy it is to use.

    Now, I should point out that I'm a developer on the OpenBiblio project, so I'm probably biased. But I think it's surprisingly good. We don't quite have the feature set that Koha has, but the code is much more approachable, if you need to modify it.

    I began using OpenBiblio because no open source library software did what the libraries I'm working for needed. It had the basic feature set, without a lot of extra fluff to get in my way. And the code was straightforward enough that I could modify it to fit my needs pretty easily. No other library system I looked at had quite the right mix. It's certainly not perfect, but we're working on it. I think it's a serious contender. []
  • Is there a way to contact you? The Minnesota State College and University System uses a thing called PALS [] for thier needs. They have supported it internally for years and functions across a huge [] number of college campuses both public and private.

    Here is the deal though, they (for political, not library, reasons) are moving off of it and onto a different system. As this entire afair was made with state dollars I am a bit curious to know what is going to be done with the code base. I got the email addy of


    "Emilda is a complete Integrated Library System that features amongst others an OPAC, circulation and administration functions, Z39.50 capabilities and 100% MARC compatibility. MARC compatibility is achieved using Zebra in conjunction with MySQL."
  • As a librarian at a federal R&D center I have also been looking into this (our current OPAC/ILS was selected 10 yearss ago as the lowest bidder and it has delivered the value you would expect from the lowest bidder, who has been sold several times and developed the product very litte... end rant) this topic came up on my grad school alumni BB (yes most professional librarians in the US have at least a Masters degree) in addition to the other excellent resources already mentioned (Koha for example)...
  • We've pitched KOHA to some libraries, but non-technical librarians are afraid that something will break and there will be no support.

    Even if a closed source management system is used, make sure that clients can connect using a standard web browser. Then all of your client machines can be open source, running Firefox. Some people use LTSP thin client/server setups in large libraries, but our [] multi-user machines provide 4 workstations for $999 which is even more economical.

A CONS is an object which cares. -- Bernie Greenberg.