SPEC Kit 340: Open Source Software  · 17
The SPEC Survey on Open Source Software was designed by J. Curtis Thacker, Discovery Systems Manager
at Brigham Young University’s Harold B. Lee Library, Dr. Charles D. Knutson, Associate Professor of
Computer Science at Brigham Young University, and Mark Dehmlow, Program Director for Information
Technology at the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Libraries. These results are based on data submitted
by 77 of the 125 ARL member libraries (62%) by the deadline of March 18, 2014. The survey’s introductory
text and questions are reproduced below, followed by the response data and selected comments from the
Open source software (OSS) is software that adheres to the following principles: “open source licenses must permit non-exclusive
commercial exploitation of the licensed work, must make available the work’s source code, and must permit the creation of
derivative works from the work itself.”[St. Laurent, Andrew M. (2008).
Understanding Open Source and Free Software
Licensing. O’Reilly Media, p 8. ISBN 9780596553951].
The emergence of OSS has increased collaboration among research libraries, providing greater control of library tools, as well as
improving usability and quality of library resources. This collaborative approach fits neatly with the knowledge and resource sharing
ideology of libraries. While OSS is ostensibly “free,” adoption of OSS within an organization is not without significant support,
integration, and development costs.
The purpose of this survey is to study ARL member libraries’ adoption and/or development of OSS for functions such as ILS, discovery
layer, electronic resource management, inter-library loan, digital asset management, institutional repository, course reserve,
streaming media, study room scheduler, digital preservation, publishing, floor maps, data warehouse, or other library-related
purposes. We would like to understand organizational factors that affect decisions to adopt OSS, the cost of OSS, and the awareness
of OSS systems already in use. With regard to development of OSS, we would like to understand: 1) research libraries’ policies and
practices on open sourcing their code; 2) the frequency with which research libraries contribute to open source projects; 3) whether
research libraries are reluctant to make their code openly available; and 4) the most common benefits and challenges encountered
when research libraries open source their code.
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