When the Open Source System is the Best System


Last updated October 17, 2014.

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Fenway Libraries Online Open Source Case Study

By Kelly Drake, Systems Librarian, Fenway Libraries Online Office
Marilyn Geller, Collection Management Librarian, Lesley University
Erin Wentz, Electronic Resources Librarian, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences University
Louisa Choy, Digital Services Librarian, Wheelock College

In the spring of 2011, something that had been festering for many years finally broke out into full chaos. Slowly, imperceptibly at first, insidiously as time marched on, paper files, Excel spreadsheets, random emails, and home-grown databases, had been growing, massing, and spreading information about library electronic resource holdings throughout the offices of the 10 academic and special collections libraries that make up Fenway Libraries Online (FLO: www.flo.org/members). Discovering who had paid for what, what permissions applied to a resource, when a database subscription expired and other information associated with an electronic resource had become extremely time consuming, and was confusing in each library and in the consortium office. It was clear that something had to be done to manage these resources more efficiently.

What followed was a three-year odyssey into the world of electronic resource management (ERM) and open source systems (OSS). Led by the FLO office, the Electronic Resource Management Task Force, and eventually the FLO CORAL Development Committee (FCDC), members of the FLO community participated in system trials, product evaluation, implementation and enhancements, all in the pursuit of bringing order to the chaos that is electronic resource management. Along the way, we also learned a great deal about evaluating, implementing and supporting open source software and about participating in open source communities.

In addition to this web format, the case study is available as an EPUB and a PDF file.