Working with school systems one thing you will notice in almost every case is a pathetic library…there is just not enough money for books. Each district has a budget for books which is often augmented by a Library Fair or some type of way of selling stuff to get money for the Library. But still there just is not enough money for kids to have books.
If you go to your local school and dig into the finances for the library you will see one of the greatest American Crimes. I found that the school system I was working with was paying twice as much money each year for a Library automation system than they provided for books! Can you believe this, kids loosing the opportunity to read so librarians have a scanner to read bar codes and a pretty screen to track book check outs. Ok….so you probably do need a check out system but the cost is not acceptable.
In rural areas kids do not have a town library, if they want to read books they access the school library. If fact in many small towns the school library is all there is for the people in that community as well. So for a small town a free library automation program is really a necessity.
Open Source does provide some interesting options for Library programs. The best one I found was the Evergreen Library System This system is a very full featured system that will do everything you need and is actively developed. If you want to get up to speed quickly you can download a VMWare image and have a library system running in a few hours. It has directions for compiling Evergreen, not for beginners, and it also has directions for Windows and Linux client setup. There are forums, documentation and chat for problems. It actually has more support than the former program that required you to pay for support.
I did the research for a small school system using an Open Source Library system like Evergreen and the school would save over $12,000 in 10 years. Doesn’t sound like much…well $12,000 in this school system for books would transform the lives of many young adults. I did the research for a bar code reader which will work with the system for only $150. The only real cost for the system is the time to learn how to set it up and learn how to use it.