This ILS Market Analysis was written by Bob Molyneux
Recently, there has been a steady stream of announcements about libraries committing to open source ILS software. Howard County, Maryland Public Library decided to implement Koha ZOOM with support from LibLime. And Library Journal has a story dated October 1, 2007 about two consortia adopting Koha, again with LibLime support. Ray Tennant reports in his blog that at the just-concluded 2007 Access conference there was a great deal of buzz about Evergreen and discusses how British Columbia's BC PINES consortium is moving to Evergreen and the news that Ontario's Laurentian University's library is also moving to Evergreen. In both cases, there is a relationship with Equinox Software, which employs the "original developers and designers" of Evergreen and which manages the PINES implementation.
My intention to do a more formal—and fuller—analysis on this subject in a few months but for now, these preliminary figures might be of interest to the LISNews audience.
There are a number of ways one might measure the impact of open source ILS software on U.S. public libraries but I think these preliminary figures are suggestive: that few of these libraries actually use open source software as a means of supplying their ILSs. Of course, we know that many more have announced and the market is dynamic. When I revisit these figures, I suspect the numbers will change but the size of the library market is quite a bit larger than the open source community has supplied. Its impact on the market is around 1%, depending on which measure one uses and by the restictive criteria I use here.
The numbers in this table reflect facts that are well known and follow from the history of these two sets of open source software. Evergreen was developed to run a large state-wide system and Koha began in public libraries in New Zealand. Koha's U.S. libraries are smaller than the Evergreen libraries—median figures for circulation, population served, and total operating expenditures for the Evergreen libraries are over 10 times the median figures for the U.S. Koha libraries. Howard County's system will greatly increase the totals for all Koha libraries but, moreover, this is a larger system than the other U.S. libraries running Koha. It also reflects that Koha is branching out by adding larger libraries and perhaps we will see Evergreen adding smaller standalone libraries. These changes would clearly be welcome developments for suppoters of the open source model.
Koha's international impact is underestimated by these figures because it is used in many counries and with libraries that are small and whose data are not readily available. For instance, lib-web-cats lists a number of church libraries and libraries at a diverse set of institutions around the world. However, systematic, national level library data are rare outside the U.S. and tend to be concentrated in public or academic settings. It is my subjective impression at this point that these other Koha libraries are also small but I have no objective evidence to adduce at this time.
I have concentrated here on a subset of the entire library universe picking for which we have the best data. This analysis uses information from three sources:
lib-web-cats lists five academic institutions using Koha in the U.S.. I am working on the Academic Library Survey data now and if I survive the process, I will add these libraries to the quantitative picture. Evergreen has no U.S. academic libraries but will, as we have seen, be adding Canadian public and academic institutions. Canadian library data are spotty being organized at the provincial level—there is no national-level library data collection effort. Ontario, though, has academic and public library data and I have been told British Columbia does, too, so I should be able to extend this analysis to Canadian institutions as they come on line.