This week I’m participating in the Library Day in the Life project which charts the day-to-day activities of library workers at different points of the year. This is the fourth time I’ve participated; you can see my earlier posts from July 2009, January 2010 and July 2010. I’m currently a full-time Researcher at Evidence Base, Birmingham City University, UK. This will be the first time I complete the project in this role and I hope it helps explain a little bit about the type of work I do.
Today was the second day of the event in Edinburgh, and the focus of the day was open source software (OSS) library infrastructure. Some of the mashups used yesterday are examples of open source library software, but today concentrated on the fundamentals of OSS, benefits and barriers of OSS, and discussed ways to progress in future.
I’m absolutely shattered so not going to write too much about today, but the main things I took from the day were:
- OSS can be thought of as “peer reviewed” as so many developers help fix bugs and add enhancements – this is a useful argument to get academics to understand the value of community based software development (Staffordshire University used this to get academics on board with their plan to implement an open source library management system)
- Getting the balance right between open and closed – is open source the pub between the cathedral (closed) and the bazaar (open)? Two presenters referred to Raymond’s The Cathedral & The Bazaar which I may have to see if I can borrow a copy of
- OSS as a business model – companies get their income from providing support and maintenance. This is the way most proprietary software companies make money currently anyway
- 2+2+2=3; 2 developers from 3 different institutions working together in OSS community produce the output of around 3 developers. This doesn’t sound great until you think about it from each institution’s perspective; they’re getting value of 3 developers for cost of 2!
I had some interesting discussions during the breaks and over lunch too. I’m usually wary of a programme that solely consists largely of chalk and talk style presentations but today worked pretty well, particularly in combination with the more informal nature of yesterday.
I’ve certainly learnt a lot from the two day event, both on a personal level and also things to take back to my work. I have realised recently that my style of learning is perhaps different to what I thought (I ought to do a learning styles test really); I learn so much more through listening and engaging in conversation with people than I do from reading.
I love going to events and to me it’s an important part of being an information professional. It gives me a flavour of what’s happening in different areas, and helps build connections with others in the profession which in turn often result in further learning. Win win situation (although they do somewhat drain your energy!).