Kohacon16 Day 1 – The application of FOSS in Libraries: a hope through the crisis

Prodromos Tsiavos – UCL the Media Institute, UK

After Paul and I talked, and some great coffee, we have Prodromos Tsiavos (@prodromos) from University College London talking about FOSS in libraries in the very challenging environment libraries are in.

He started by talking about Software (Free Software in particular) and noting that Software is not about code, it is about people and organisations. So we should be paying attention to the ecosystem, and the things that allow people and organistaions to flourish.

Software and Humans.

Software is

  • Built collectively
  • Knowledge intensive
  • A Learning Experience
  • Infrastructure dependent
  • Institution building
FOSS encompasses tremendous amount of value

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He also made the point that to do it properly, your code needs to be open from the beginning, Release Early, Release Often.


Licensing was talked about briefly, and he touched on the Trademark issues also. He said, choose a license that represents the values of your community, and when you have a name Trademark it. He talked for a bit about things that look like open source, or are marketed as, but that have a license that isn’t open.

So when you look at all this, you can see that FOSS is Collective Activity, that is Human Centric, it brings Sustainability and should be a part of a broader strategy.

Developing a FOSS Strategy
  • People and roles
  • Find other communities
  • Procurement – Buy hours not products : Buying locally, local labour, is so important especially in times of financial crisis.
  • Releases
  • Link to as many people/organisations as possible
  • Develop polices, PR policies, standards, events, ecosystem around the software
FOSS in libraries
  • Part of a broader FOSS strategy
  • Not just cost reduction
  • Develop sustainable experties
  • Link to R & D
  • Relate to open science and open data
  • It’s a knowledge instrument

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