Open-Source Software in Museums
Open-source software (OSS), free of cost, arguably more robust and stable than commercial software, and modifiable to suit users' needs, offers many advantages to information provision environments like museums. Major museums use OSS tools for uses ranging from authoring and content management to more focused special projects such as tagging and image queries. Open-source ILS tools like Koha are gaining a foothold in many information provision environments and the lack of up-front cost encourages experimentation in creating new projects. While any new system such as a CMS contains costs in time, training and maintenance, the net savings may be worth it for a non-profit museum. OSS also includes the benefits of code that is constantly examined and improved upon, and the potential for developing and sharing new and improved features with other users. Museums and other IPEs are particularly situated to realize the benefits of sharing information in this way, though a small institution without programmers on staff may be reliant on outside help for improvements. Finally, its characteristics of adaptability and personalization make OSS uniquely poised to provide museums with online presences that will meet present and future web users' demands for a personalized and interactive experience.
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