Open library systems – a new perspective. Higher Education Library Technology (HELibTech) briefing paper No. 7

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In the last decade or so open source software became a defining factor in how librarians perceived ‘open’ library systems. Open source library systems such as Koha gained market share were often seen in terms of a ‘battle’ with the more common proprietary solutions.  With the rise of cloud computing, software ‘platforms’ have come to dominate. Because the solution is hosted in the cloud, rather than implemented on local servers, the underlying technology becomes of less concern. These platforms, including Library Services Platforms (LSPs) typically embrace open source components and combine them with proprietary solutions. The value of a ‘platform’, as opposed to a software ‘product’ comes not only from its own features, but from its ability to connect to external solutions, data, and processes. To do this it needs to be ‘open’ in terms of data and the ability to integrate, via (typically open) application programming Interfaces (APIs), with other products which may be developed by customers or provided by other independent software vendors (ISVs).  This, open interoperability, perspective is now a more fruitful way to consider open library systems.

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