|The Technology Resource Foundation, a Seattle-based nonprofit group,
has announced the release of OpenBook, a free Web-based integrated library
system. The system offers flexible, sophisticated automation to small and
mid-sized public or school libraries and was created to increase digital
access to information.
According to the announcement, OpenBook uses open source code to offer
a low-cost, simple-to-use system rich in features generally found only
in high-end systems. The current technical beta version includes complex
searching capabilities, a full bibliographic record with external resource
linking as defined in MARC21, and a cataloging function that is MARC21-compatible.
Some distinctive features include the following:
In an upcoming release, OpenBook also will include a full circulation module
and other features such as Z39.50 server and client capability to allow
for integration into a cooperative library system or community college
Low Cost—OpenBook can automate, for example, a small library of 10,000
records for under $1,000 for server hardware and with no charge for the
A completely Web-based cataloging system—It's simple to use, works with
any existing hardware or software, and supports all popular browsers.
Combines total capture and retention of all MARC21 fields with custom configuration
of cataloging display fields
A multilingual interface—Can be displayed in any Roman- character language
Patron ability to access the system from home
Enhanced safety features, including backup, restore, and purge
A home page development template
"Libraries are critical to information access, which is at the heart
of a healthy democracy. We created OpenBook to enable libraries, regardless
of their financial resources, to automate and improve their ability to
serve patrons," said Willem Scholten, executive director of the foundation.
Prior to founding the Technology Resource Foundation, Scholten worked with
the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to bring thousands of libraries
in needy communities online.
"OpenBook offers such a complete and affordable solution that it is
being received enthusiastically both here and abroad," Scholten said. "Because
it's written in open source code, we have university professors who are
very excited about using it to challenge their students to add to the system
and make [it] even better. That's the beauty of open source—it allows us
to have a constantly improving product, with all users sharing the benefits
of each others' learnings."
OpenBook developed as a modification of Koha, the first free open source
library system created in New Zealand by the Horowhenua Library Trust and
Katipo Communications, Ltd. The Technology Resource Foundation's OpenBook
design team, which comprises experienced librarians and programmers, used
Koha as a basis to develop OpenBook from the ground up. OpenBook is general-public
licensed and no user fees or other licensing charges are incurred by the
The Technology Resource Foundation, funded by a start-up from the Waitt
Family Foundation, develops and pilots model programs and online resources
to increase digital access to information in the very poorest communities.
In particular, it works to develop low-cost, low-bandwidth technologies
for use in public-access labs, libraries, and schools.
Source: Technology Resource Foundation, Seattle, 206/332-7400; http://www.trfoundation.org.