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NewsForge: Quiet Revolution: Librarians Teach and Preach Open Source Software at Convention

Jun 18, 2002, 01:00 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ben Ostrowsky)

"Fresh from a victory against Internet filtering, many librarians are celebrating and demonstrating Free Software that can automate a public library for under $1,000, organize information into Web portals, and manipulate data in arcane formats.

"Librarians have always understood the value of sharing information. The hacker librarians in Atlanta for the American Library Association's annual convention, which continues through Tuesday, have been living out their creed by developing freely distributable software and teaching others how to use it. Their peers -- human search engines at the public library, scholarly bibliographers in academia, and the rarefied ranks of competitive intelligence researchers -- have arrived by the busload for sessions on Linux, BSD, and Open Source tools.

"The host of Friday's hands-on tutorial, Emory University Library's Martin Halbert, says he encourages his staff to look first for Open Source software because 'it's philosophically aligned with the values of academia.' And it doesn't merely save the library money; it brings in more money. Grant funding to develop metaScholar, a toolkit for describing scholarly information, was contingent upon sharing the results. Halbert said the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation insisted that 'if you want one of these grants, you'd better do Open Source...'"

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