Library management software...open source or not?

I was actually given funding last spring to purchase new library management software. I got a quote from Follett, our current vendor (the software we have from them is badly outdated and sitting on an aging Windows NT server...

I was actually given funding last spring to purchase new library management software. I got a quote from Follett, our current vendor (the software we have from them is badly outdated and sitting on an aging Windows NT server...it's time for a change) and was getting ready to move ahead when I found out that we would have a full-time librarian working for us this coming year, so I back-burnered this project in favor of the 17 other projects on my plate (yes, that's right, we only had a half-time library aide; an actual library/media specialist will be a welcome addition).

I figured that before I spent several thousand dollars on a system, despite being tried, true, and generally well-respected, there was little sense in moving to a new system before the librarian had a chance to weigh in on the decision. After all, there are now several open source alternatives and there is a chance that our SIS vendor will be adding a library module in a couple of years as well. While the quote from Follett was utterly reasonable and included data migration services, it still requires a yearly subscription and ongoing maintenance costs. Those costs include access to several online databases, but I'm hoping that our new media specialist can help expand student research skills beyond the Big G, possibly making the databases less useful.

In fact, as the World Wide Web is increasingly favored as the data source of choice and our stacks dwindle, library management software may lose some importance. Rather, we need to track our media resources that get checked out to staff and books that get checked out to students, but this may be time to make a switch.

For example, Koha is an open source web-based scalable system that manages users, collections, and multiple branches (or schools) among other features. Evergreen, another open source solution, was developed primarily by the Georgia Public Libraries and offers similar features. Is it worth handling the migration with the librarian instead of letting a major vendor take care of it? It just might be for the whopping price of free and the ongoing subscription cost of nothing.

How about you? What are you currently using to manage your media collection and how well does it work? What hardware are you using to support it (e.g., barcode scanners, servers, label printers, etc.)?

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