Stopping off in Manchester for a drink with Ken Barmy I was surprised when he let slip that he was going to a workshop on Open Source library management systems. I can understand his checking out the LMS market - let's face it, we're all working on systems that could, or already have, be axed by the caprice of a change of venture capitalists or a hostile takeover by competitors. And Ken's system is very, very old, if not actually venerable. But... Open Source?
"I'm interested by the concept," says Ken, "and it has a lot of potential. It's increasingly popular with academic libraries over here and it's being adopted by public libraries all over the States. And the Office of the e-Envoy has issued instructions to local government saying that they should go Open Source wherever practicable...."
"You have to know what you want to deliver and be used to working in a developmental environment. On the one hand I've got a public library management team. And on the other hand I've got a local government IT division. Doomed."
So why is he going to this workshop, besides for a day out?
"If by any chance it turns out to be a goer then I'm prepared for it. And if not, I can give an informed opinion as to why we shouldn't do it. Not that my opinion would matter much one way or another but you like to try your best."
This made sense. Then the big question occurred to me:
"How on Earth did you get your library service to pay for you to go to this workshop?"
"They think Open Source is freeware. They like the idea of something for nothing."