I just did a quick scan of the study report Software and Collaboration in Higher Education: A Study of Open Source Software by Paul N. Couran (Principal Investigator) and Rebecca J. Griffith
The Study was funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Carnegie Mellon University, Foothill-De Anza Community College, Marist College, Indiana University, the University of Michigan, Stanford University, the University of North Carolina, and The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation
The report references librariy OPACs:
"These systems are used to catalogue library holdings. There are a number of commercial products available (Ex Libris, Endeavor), but consensus seems to be that these systems are clunky and outdated. One theory we heard is that vendors are reluctant to invest in upgrading these systems because the function of libraries is in such a state of transition, and it is not at all clear what activities the software will need to support five to ten years form now. A number of people speculated that an open source OPAC would make sense, though the same challenges would apply."
As is the lifecycle of all to many software companies, the reluctance of vendors to keep their systems up to date results in a dwindling of licensees. In time, these companies are financially supported by a handleful of licensees who pay an increasing amount for support and customization. The licensee becomes trapped by the vendor in since they have a large investment in the system!
The report also discusses the concept of an incubator of OSS projects. The benefit of this model is that it would provide a legal home for open source projects and reduce the overhead costs associated with setting up separate non-profit organizations for each one. While a different cocept that the open source resource sharing networks I have previously discussed, but is in the same spirit.
I suspect the the combination of open source and the reluctance of vendors to keep their systems up to date will result result in the demise of significant number of commerical library vendors in the next five years. The poor performance and outdated products of commercial OPAC products is due largely to the disconnect between developers in software firms and their customers. This should be an advantage to library developers, and the timing to look at open source networks/incubators is ripe.
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