One of the most fundamental decisions a library makes is choosing an integrated library system, or ILS. A public library can remove unwanted outside influence and save money by switching their ILS to free and open source software, or FOSS. This article is an examination of the progress made by FOSS ILSs to become not only contenders against proprietary systems, but also an appropriate choice for financial, functional, and philosophical reasons. Included is a timeline of published evaluations, the milestone of 14% adoption, a summary of the current landscape, and example implementation cases. A functional analysis shows why a public library can now safely make the switch. A philosophical analysis shows why they should do so. Finally, a proposal is made to “Buy Back America’s Libraries," and return ownership of the keystone of our public information infrastructure to the people.

About Author

Tony Brooke is a masters degree candidate at the School of Library and Information Science at San José State University. His research has investigated media asset management and audiovisual metadata. He has been an audio engineer in San Francisco since 1992. Correspondence regarding this should be addressed to Tony Brooke, http://www.silentway.com/research