Resource review #6: SirsiDynix White Paper Causes Many Tweets

Fitzpatrick, S. (2009, November 11). Open source advocates reject SirsiDynix’s warning about OSS. Retrieved from

Scandal! Well, kinda. Anyway, it’s jucier than most of what you’ll get when reading about open source ILS implementations, so I was perfectly happy to find this ALA report on a white paper from the Sirsi-Dynix Vice President of Innovation that pretty much proves that open source software is a viable alternative to traditional vendors. (If it weren’t, they wouldn’t be worried about it.)

The white paper itself is extremely negative about open source, although to be fair, it seems to be pretty truthful. Abram emphasizes the small size of the ILS programming community, giving the impression that open source software needs a user base as large as that of Firefox to be worthwhile. The warnings given about open source software are accurate — but they’re the same warnings open source advocates give. Many of the detriments of open source Abram lists apply largely to new software, but neither Koha nor Evergreen, the two major open source ILSs currently available, could really be called new at this point: libraries looking into them now are certainly not early adopters.

The American Libraries article summarizes the library blog and Twitter reaction to the leaked paper, which was generally not too supportive of SirsiDynix’s position. Several bloggers argued that while it might cost more money to train librarians and programmers to get a good open source system running, that training in people is much more valuable in the long run than maintenence fees paid to a proprietary vendor. The article also links to the variety of Web 2.0 tools that are being used to comment on the issue, from a blog post (with moderated comments) to a Google Doc to a Wiki. These documents are fascinating to look at — this is an ongoing debate, and one that will keep many people interested for a long time.

About Jen Moore

I'm a recent library school graduate in Madison, Wisconsin, looking for a full-time professional job and trying to manage a fulfilling life in the meantime. Oh, and I read. A lot.

Posted on November 30, 2009, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I think that while some was truthful, the lies about the Defense Department not using Open Source. And equating using open source to helping terrorists we’re what made most people upset.
    The FLOSS community is well used to proprietary vendors lying when they can’t compete on a level playing field. So it really came as no suprise that Stephen Abrams, on behalf of Sirsi/Dynix, would use the same techniques.
    What did suprise people was the lack of citations, any evidence, and the backpedaling when it became public.
    But like you say, it shows they are worried, would be nice if they used that worry in a more positive way though.

  2. …I must have completely missed the part about terrorists, because now that I look at it again, yep, that’s pretty ridiculous. I was mostly kind of bemused that he spent a lot of time making panic noises about things that everyone in the open source community knows perfectly well are issues, and apparently I overlooked some of the really outrageous things.

    This reminds me an awful lot of the reaction of record companies to mp3s — and just like that situation, if they spend too much time panicking and denigrating the people who choose the new alternative, they’ll completely lose any credibility they might already have. So your first step is in the wrong direction, Sirsi-Dynix.

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