In 1999, with a 12 year-old system running on a 386 server, Horowhenua Library Trust (HLT) needed to replace our library management system (LMS). We followed the usual Request For Proposal (RFP) process, and after reading a staggering amount of papers, found we were not satisfied with any of the options. There were systems available that would over-deliver at a cost we couldn’t afford, systems which we could afford but didn’t meet our needs, and all of the systems had much more expensive communications solutions than we had been using. Plus, none of them used a web browser interface.
We engaged Katipo Communications to develop a web-based LMS for us, and they suggested it be released under the GNU General Public License (GPL) as a way to ensure the project had longevity (they didn’t necessarily want to spend the rest of their days supporting a proprietary system) and this would encourage other people to use it—improving and enhancing it along the way. The GPL would also ensure that subsequent modifications and additions by other organisations were open source as well, benefitting all users.