Open-Source Software Use in Libraries in Developing Countries

Open-Source Software Use in Libraries in Developing Countries

Copyright: © 2022 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-8942-7.ch013
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Libraries have been experiencing budget cuts over the years that affected subscriptions to various software. This was worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic, which affected all the library services and products. A survey was done on how libraries in developing countries are using open-source software. An online questionnaire was administered to librarians who took part in the Advanced Course in Modern Library Practices in India and those who attended the International Training Programme on Management of Electronic Information and Digital Libraries at the University of Antwerp in Belgium. The data was collected from 31 librarians to find out if they implemented what they learned during the programs. The results showed that the librarians adopted the software they were introduced to during the training programs to offer efficient services during the automation process. The author recommends the need to upgrade skills and participate in continuous professional development programs to successfully use the various open-source software.
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Libraries regardless of type and size are mandated to provide access to information to the patrons to answer the various information needs. This should be done efficiently and effectively despite the challenges that might be faced by both the library or the patron. The coming in of the COVID-19 pandemic changed the way information is provided in libraries when the physical libraries were closed as a way of reducing the spread of the virus. This called for the need to provide digital services and this can be made possible by the use of software (Tsekea & Chigwada, 2020). Libraries were therefore mandated to automate their services as a way of organising and managing information resources as a way of widening access to these resources and services. Library automation can be done using open-source or subscription-based software as stated by Georgios & Fotis (2015), Kingdom & Ebikabowei (2014), Muhammad & Kanwal (2009), and Namjoo & Kwan (2015). Commercial/ proprietary/ subscription-based software is developed and owned by individuals and the source code is kept as a secret (LINFO, 2005). For libraries to be able to use it, a lot of funds are required to purchase or subscribe and then maintain it annually according to the user licence agreement upon payment. However, the open science movement led to the advent of open-source software which guarantees the freedom to use, run, change or redistribute the copies with or without changes. The source code is open for viewing and modifying by all the users and some developers have managed to come up with powerful packages that are used in most libraries. As a result, the use of open-source software has gained popularity and caused interest over the years according to Alam (2018) and Kumar and Jasimudeen (2021). This chapter aims to examine the use of open-source software in libraries in developing countries. It is against this background that the study was done to meet the following objectives:

  • 1.

    To examine how libraries in developing countries are using open-source software.

  • 2.

    To articulate the benefits that can be derived by using open-source software as compared to commercial software in developing countries.

  • 3.

    To highlight the challenges that can be faced by libraries that use open-source software in developing countries.


Statement Of The Problem

Libraries are the first department to receive budget cuts whenever there are financial constraints within the organisation. Due to the economic challenges being faced in developing countries, libraries have low budgets which are not enough to subscribe to the software that is needed to automate library services and provide digital products and services. Institutions are now talking about cost-cutting measures and budget cuts from the ministries that provide funding for various purposes in the day-to-day running of the organisation. Although there are funding issues, libraries are mandated to continue providing services to the patrons so that their information needs are met. This has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic which led to the closure of physical libraries as a way of combating the spread of the virus (Chigwada, 2021). The research question is how are libraries in developing countries providing the needed services in the face of financial challenges and budget cuts as well as the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Evergreen: Is an integrated open-source integrated library management system that was initially developed by Georgia Public Library Service for Public Information Network for Electronic Services (PINES), a state-wide resource-sharing consortium with over 270 member libraries.

Cataloguing: Is a process of compiling a list of documents that are owned by a particular library according to a set of rules to inform the users what is in the library.

Library Management System: Manages asset circulation and cataloguing, as well as membership management, and this assists in library automation to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of service provision.

Open-Source Software: Is a broad software license that makes source code available to the general public with relaxed or non-existent restrictions on the use and modification of the code.

Koha: Is an open-source integrated library management system that is used worldwide by academic, public, school, and special libraries to manage their collections.

DSpace: Is an open-source repository software package used for creating open access repositories for scholarly and published digital content.

Greenstone: Is a suite of software for building and distributing digital library collections and provides a way of organising information and publishing it on the Internet in the form of a fully searchable metadata-driven collection.

Open-Source: Denotes software where the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed and modified.

Integrated Library Management System: Is an enterprise resource planning system for a library that is used to track items owned, orders made, and library items that are borrowed by patrons.

COVID-19 Pandemic: Is an ongoing pandemic of coronavirus disease which is caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) which was first identified in Wuhan.

ABCD: Is a menu-driven open-source software based on the CDS/ISIS technology.

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