Open Source Software and Libraries; LTR 43.3, Finally

LTR 43.3: Open Source Software for Libraries

The most selfish thing about submitting a manuscript late is asking “When is it going to be out?” So I’ve been waiting quietly, rather than trouble Judi Lauber, who did an excellent job editing and managing the publication.

Ryan and Jessamyn each contributed a chapter, and I owe additional thank yous to the full chorus of voices that answered so many of my questions, participated in interviews, and generally made the book/journal/thing what it is.

The official announcement features a quote from Richard Stallman, the founding father of the Free and Open Source software movement.

In the 70s, computer users lost the freedoms to redistribute and change software because they didn’t value their freedom. Computer users regained these freedoms in the 80s and 90s because a group of idealists, the GNU Project, believed that freedom is what makes a program better, and were willing to work for what we believed in.

He’s speaking of software, code, but his words harmonize well with the founding purpose of libraries. A hundred years ago we embarked on a period of library construction unmatched in our previous history. We may mistakenly identify the period with the source of funding, Andrew Carnegie funded thousands, but Carnegie’s spoken belief that individuals could elevate themselves and build a stronger republic through libraries was alive in the zeitgeist.

Today, as the World Wide Web becomes ever more interwoven with the fabric of our fleshy lives, libraries have new roles and responsibilities. Just as we architected public libraries of brick and stone in the past, we must to build and support a public information architecture for the future. Open source software not only serves libraries’ immediate economic interests, such software is also aligned with the larger public mission and philosophy of libraries.

Yes, I’m a partisan, for both free — free as in free speech — and open source software and for libraries.