The maker movement has been filtering into the public library sphere for years, and libraries all over the U.S. now have their very own makerlabs and digital media labs. A big part of that digital DIY culture includes open source software, which Phil Shapiro, an educator and blogger for opensource.com, argues needs to be more prevalent in the public library space. Perhaps librarians do need to be better educated on open source. But arguably, we are already incorporating open source software into our regular programming.
Posts Tagged ‘open source software’
On November 14 and 15, 2015, the Toronto Public Library (TPL) was invaded by hackers – fourteen teams of invited programming enthusiasts – as part of the first TPL Hackathon. Hackathons are common events in the programming world and can last from hours to days as programmers work to create apps, websites, games, and other projects. With the Toronto Public Library in the middle of developing a new strategic plan, the staff decided to theme their hackathon by posing this question to participants: “How can the library make our communities more resilient, more knowledgeable, more connected and more successful?” The library provided data sets to participants, including statistics on circulation, programs, and attendance, top ten books borrowed by format and type, real time online catalog searches, and demographic information from the City of Toronto. The participants chose the data they were most interested in to create their project. Because of the limited time that teams had to work on their projects, the focus of the event was more on ideas and concepts rather than working prototypes, though some projects did make it to that stage.
Libraries and individuals use open source software everyday. If you are surfing the web, Apache is likely playing a part in your activity. Do you use Firefox or Google Chrome? Android tablets use a Linux-based operating system. Open source technologies often seem esoteric and unwieldy, and in some cases this is true, but many of their core principles align with libraries, and while they may not always be the right solution for a project, they should likely receive more attention.