Re: Proprietary catalogs (WAS: [ACAT] Use of $4 versus $e)

Posting to Autocat

On 11/02/2013 04:53, Dan Scott wrote:

On 09/02/2013 21:58, Frank Newton wrote:

But nevertheless, there is something I like about some proprietary library catalogs — namely, the fact that they’re local. (At least, some of them are.)

In case there’s any confusion here, open source library catalogues are probably more often locally hosted than they are hosted on some support providers’ servers. The Conifer consortium in Ontario (made up of three universities, several colleges, a medical school, hospitals, etc) hosts its consortial implementation of the open-source library system Evergreen on its own servers.

The traditional usage of the term “proprietary” in software circles refers to who owns the code (generally a private company that will not make their code available for study, sharing, or modification), vs. open source code which is available for anyone to study, share, modify, or run.

There are many options for hosting open source catalogs, or getting support for them. Many libraries just do not have the IT staff, or the IT staff may not be prepared to take on the additional responsibilities. It can all be outsourced. Sometimes having your open-source catalog hosted by another agency means that you lose some of the freedoms to change your catalog, much like regular proprietary catalogs. Of course, the other agency doesn’t want you poking around the innards of the catalog if they are the ones who have to fix your mistakes.

To be honest, when I hosted my own Koha catalog, it was on a very slow, tiny old regular computer and it was very stable. The only time it crashed was when the machine would be attacked and since the hard drive was so small, it would blow out my log files, or when I would make a mistake and mess up something. It was all easy to fix however.

Still, most of the time librarians want to work with the display more than the actual internal workings of the catalog, e.g. they want specific links on a specific page, or they want to display or hide something differently. With Koha, the librarians can take complete control over the XSLT style-sheets, so you can make it display however you want. I don’t know if regular proprietary catalogs allow this, but if they don’t, I think they will have to eventually.

If you want to weight your relevance ranking differently, add or take away specific bits of the record for indexing, then you do have to get into the internal workings. I am currently working on a trial Koha implementation, and I have found some problems with indexing and facets. This can be fixed. With open source, there are many options.