Issue 31, 2016-01-28

Editorial Introduction: New Year Resolutions

While New Year’s day came and went with very little fanfare at my house (well, if you don’t count our Star Wars marathon), I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the time to mark the passing of the new year, with a look ahead to the future.  And I think it is fitting, then, […]

While New Year’s day came and went with very little fanfare at my house (well, if you don’t count our Star Wars marathon), I think I’d be remiss if I didn’t take the time to mark the passing of the new year, with a look ahead to the future.  And I think it is fitting, then, that this issue includes an article focusing on the distribution and ease of adoption of open source software in libraries.  This is a topic that I’ve written about in the past[1] and has been recently weighing a lot on my mind as I’ve been working with a handful of cultural heritage organizations struggling as they navigate these waters.  The members of the Code4Lib community do tremendous things.  They create innovative projects and develop solutions to complex issues that move their institutions forward leaps and bounds.  This community is selfless and idealistic – they share their code, their time, and their expertise – all of which will be on display in Philadelphia during the annual meeting.  But we have a bit of a blind spot when it comes to making the tools and solutions that we build easily adoptable for others.  We put up unintentional barriers that can lead potential users down the winding roads of dependency hell or place them in a never ending purgatory of difficult data migrations between application versions.  We embrace the idea of open source as “free as in kittens,” underlying the care and feeding that will be required to maintain and engage with a particular solution.  But for a significant number of cultural heritage organizations, this idea is closer to “free as in mountain lions” because sure – you catch one – but you are likely going to end up a little bloody and in a lot of pain…

Fortunately, we can do something about it.  I have been really excited to see the thoughtful approach related to ease of adoption around efforts like Hydra-in-a-Box, and the number of projects working with Vagrant and Puppet to simplify the initial process of installation and evaluation.  We have communities around projects like ArchivesSpace, DSpace, Hydra, Koha, Kuali OLE; thinking hard about how to lower the barriers not just for adoption, but around the long-term support of a project.  But there is so much left to be done.  We have some exciting work taking place in this community and some big problems yet to be tackled (linked data, cough) but I’d like echo Davidson and Casden’s suggestion, that we resolve in 2016 to “extend the open source software values of collaboration and transparency to include the wide and affordable distribution of software.”[2]  The community does great work – let’s make it easier for everyone to use it.

Issue Summary:

The Editorial Committee is pleased to submit issue 31 to the community.  This issue includes 7 articles, covering issues related to data manipulation, migration, and reconciliation – as well as discussions around best practices and feature development.  We encourage you to explore this issue, engage in the comments, and reach out to the many fine authors that contributed their work to this work.

Articles:

 

–TR

References

[1] Reese, Terry, Purposeful Development: Being Ready When Your Project Moves From ‘Hobby’ to Mission Critical  http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/6393
[2] Davidson, Bret and Casden, Jason.  Beyond Open Source: Evaluating the Community Availability of Software.  http://journal.code4lib.org/articles/11148

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