I finally had a chance to meet with our new librarian today. After being without an actual librarian for so long, it was incredibly cool to talk with someone who knew something more about academic research than how to Google. She even has quite a vision for how the library should run, the types of periodicals that will get kids reading something more than MySpace postings, and how to make use of all the new technology we've dumped into our school. Sweet!
Better yet, she's already looking into partnerships with the local library and our regional library system to save money on library management software and leverage the collections and databases to which they have access (thanks for the suggestions on my last post concerning this topic, by the way).
And best of all, when I asked her how she felt about spending big chunks of her budget on commercial library software like Follett's Destiny, vs. potentially more labor-intensive but free open-source solutions, she said, "I'm not afraid of learning new things. Why don't you set up a server with one of the open source systems and I'll give it a shot." Rock on.
So I sent one of my interns out to my car, carrying a server left over from our consolidation and it's now set up in my basement, much to my wife's chagrin (I happen to believe that you can never have too many computers in your basement; fortunately there are many other things on which she and I agree). While I could have installed any number of Linux distributions, it's hard to go wrong with *buntu, so I'm installing Edubuntu as I write this. Edubuntu now has an add-on CD, as well, with a variety of software that doesn't fit on the main distribution image.
The necessary database and web server backends to support available library software like Koha are either included out of the box or are readily available and Koha, in particular, is built on Debian Linux (as is Ubuntu), so I figured this would be a solid choice. The 'buntus are also particularly easy to use, making this a nice choice for a librarian from Windows-land.
I'll keep you posted on this project, but hopefully it's one of several steps towards a truly functional library at a bargain-basement price.