Library automation is the use of computers and other modern technologies to do work that was once done by hand.


A library consortium is a group of libraries that gather together to do something as a group that would be difficult or impossible to do alone . These consortia may be free or membership based. Consortia can give individual libraries more buying power, or more leverage when dealing with vendors. Consortia can also allow libraries to share information resources and IT support.


This referees to the development of software and is the process through which programs or systems are conceptualized, designed, programmed, tested, and maintained.

community support

With proprietary software, usually all software support is done by the vendor providing the software . In some cases, there might be a community of people who add information to a knowledge base to supplement the information given out by the company. With OSS, there is usually a built-in community of people who know how the software works and can help with problems. The bigger and more popular the software, the greater the community support. For example, the MediaWiki community support is massive and comprehensive. Whereas smaller OSS projects may not have as much documentation or as many people to help you troubleshoot.

Creative Commons’ licensing

Traditional copyright assumes “all rights reserved”, but when authors or creators want to allow people to share their work, they can provide copyright permissions in the form of licensing. Creative Commons is a collection of tools so that authors and creators can retain copyright while allowing other people to use their work. This is similar to the licensing for free and open software used in the Open Source Movement.


Digitization is converting something from a physical or “analog” form, to a digital form . Examples include converting a photograph to a JPEG or TIFF, a printed or hand written document to PDF, or converting a VHS tape to DVD.

distributed development

the development of software is done from multiple worksites or locations. Many different groups work collaboratively toward the completion and maintenance of a project.

electronic resources

Materials in digital format such as journals or e-journals, e-books, online databases, PDF documents, web pages and more.

Free Software Movement

An organization sponsored by the Free Software Foundation which advocates for making programming free in the terms of free speech (not necessarily free from costs) . Sometimes software can be called “libre” software to emphasis that the “free” is about liberty and not price. The organization believes that locking software away from users gives the developer power over them that they should not have.


Git is an open source version control standard for software projects. With Git, each Git destruction of a software is a complete code version which allows the user to work on the code off-line or remotely and add the code back to the original copy.


This is a private company that uses the Git standard to provide additional services to software development projects. GitHub was bought by Microsoft in 2018. Many OSS projects have a GitHub repository. For a video:

GNU General Public License (GNU GPL)

The license used by more than half of all free software projects. The foundation of the license is that the software is free to be used for any purpose, to be changed for your needs, the freedom to be shared, and the freedom to share your changes.


Computer hardware refers to the physical parts of a computer and related devices. Internal hardware devices include motherboards, hard drives, and RAM. External hardware devices include monitors, keyboards, mice, printers, and scanners.


refers to anything undertaken by and organization in which the organization has control of all or most of the resources. The opposite of in-house is to outsource, which is to pay a company to take care of something instead of handling the employees or the money to do it in-house.

Machine Readable Cataloging (or MARC)

MARC is a standard for cataloging records that put bibliographic information in machine-readable format. MARC is still in use today, but is slowly being replaced by newer technologies.

Online Computer Library Center (OCLC)

OCLC is a not-for-profit organization based in Ohio which has been a strong force in library automation and cost savings through collective action.

Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC)

An online catalog of bibliographic information that is available to the public. When someone goes into a library and uses the computer to search for a book or other resource, it is usually the OPAC they are using.

Open Source Movement

The movement stands to educate and advocate for the superiority of an open development process. The movement encourages people to participate with the software they use by editing it and improving it. The movement's name was chosen specifically to distinguish it from the Free Software Movement.

Open Source Software (OSS)

Code is written with a license that allows it to be inspected, modified, and enhanced by anyone. Open source is also used to refer to other non-software projects where the design or documentation is done with a similar license.

proprietary software

Any software that is copyrighted and has limitations to its use, distribution, and modification imposed by its publisher, vendor, or developer. It can also be called “closed software” to distinguish it from “open software”.


In a general sense, software is a set of instructions for a computer to do specific tasks . Software is written in some language designed to be understandable by a human and the computer.

source code

Source code is the actual instructions used by a piece of software . You can call this the “coding” of the software, or the program. The source code is usually translated in order to be run on an actual computer. Most software is available in this translated version, which means it is not easy for a human to read or understand it. This is why the source code (the original human understandable code) is so important.

version control

When you edit a file, it’s helpful to be able to go back to the original if there is a problem. In a similar way, software version control is about keeping track of the different versions of software as it moves through development.


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Open Source Software in Libraries by Joy Perrin and Christopher Starcher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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