Open Source Selection

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Last updated October 21, 2012.

Choosing the right software for use in a library can be difficult when faced with the plethora of options and versions of library solutions available. Selecting the best software can seem impossible as variables often do not compare like for like and can be dependent on a multitude of tangential factors.

This document highlights the benefits derived from a successful Software Selection Methodology (SSM), and breaks down the various criteria and steps for choosing software. Although it is focused primarily on selecting software for use in libraries, the principles apply across all software selection scenarios. The methodical, systematic approach outlined provides the tools to compare Open Source and commercial solutions and aims to support the reader in choosing the right solution for their library.

Target Audience

This document is designed for those involved in the selection process, use and development of software solutions aimed at tackling library needs. This could range from Systems librarians to Technical Services department heads. This document is applicable to those without detailed technical knowledge but a level of knowledge about library systems is assumed.

This tool is intended as an aid to stimulate discussion and promote engagement among library policy makers or those involved in the process of acquiring or maintaining systems to support a libraries function. Since this scope is very wide this methodology does not aim to be prescriptive but rather to raise the relevant issues that should be considered when approaching a software selection process.

Authored by Malcolm Ramsay and Edmund Chamberlain of Cottage Labs, LLP.