Today I sent the resignation letter to our current ILS-vendor. The point of NO return has passed:-)
It promted another round of “OMG why am I doing this?” It is in many ways a leap of faith. We are the first library in Norway to switch to Koha, the translation is still not completely done and who knows what bugs and surprises we will get when we go live sometime in October. This would of course be true independent of the system we switch to, commercial or open source. The important thing for me, who initiated the whole thing, is that with Koha we are looking forward, we will get more features than our current ILS can deliver or develop in the forseeable future, and we introduce the concept of open source into the norwegian library systems marketplace.
Norwegian libraries need to embrace open source for many reasons. The formal reason; that the government now requires public institutions to consider open source when choosing software, the financial reason; that open source means you can test and try out systems without initial costs and that the implementation cost is way smaller than any other system on the norwegian library system marketplace, and finally the ideological reason: open source embodies many of the same values that libraries are funded on, sharing, equality, access and community.
To further the understanding of open source in the norwegian library community we have initiated the unconference Free and Open Libraries in Bergen 12.-13. november 2009. (Conference wiki – Norwegian only). The key-note speaker will be Nicole C. Engard from LibLime in the USA, and we will have Nicolas Morin from BibLibre in France and of course our own Magnus Enger from Libriotech who both will contribute. Even though Koha is a major theme for this conference we will try to cover as many aspects of free and open software as possible. The key-note speaker for day two will be Bjørn Venn from FriProg, the norwegian centre for free software.We will have a Open Software 101 session for those who want to learn the basics, we will let people discuss everything from programming to ideology and try to make the point of how important and useful open source is to libraries.