Integrating open source projects in our library

Recently, our library was considering adopting Augur, a CUNY-made open source reference desk transaction tracking program. It’s a nice program that fills a very specific niche function. We tested Augur at our library for a couple of weeks. Yet despite its niftyness, we didn’t implement it at Kingsborough. This was mainly because it added an unnecessary layer of complication to what is currently a very simple, manual process for keeping reference desk statistics.

I wasn’t too disappointed that the project didn’t go ahead. Manual reference desk tracking has been working fine at Kingsborough, and in some regards there is no reason to interfere with that workflow.

Yet evaluating Augur got me thinking about the value of open source projects for libraries. I found myself revisiting some of the old tropes of open source advocacy: projects like Augur can provide opportunities for us to expand our technical skill sets. They allow us to build collaboratively and to contribute actively to open projects. And so on.

Even though these issues are not new, they are still important in our libraries. Building our librarians’ skills is an important long term goal, as is creating software that benefits libraries. So I hope that we can find opportunities to integrate open source tools that meet the needs of our librarians and our communities.

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