About 30 people came to our session on open source software at BCLA. Our goal was to have an accessible session for regular human beings. From the front of the room I was able to tell that people (geeks and human beings alike) were engaged and interested. After the session we got some really good feedback from academic, public and special librarians as well as public library trustees and vendors.
We tried to cover way too much in the 90 minutes. Jeff Davis could’ve talked about Ubuntu, a user friendly flavour of Linux, for the whole session and I don’t think anyone would’ve minded. If you didn’t get one of the CDs with Ubuntu on it, download the next version in a few days. There wasn’t enough time to delve into OpenOffice and we ended up cutting Evergreen and Audacity entirely. Pidgin and GIMP were mentioned at auctioneer speed. I regret that there was only about 6 minutes available for discussion.
I learned heaps of new things, like some Firefox search shortcuts and how you can run Firefox (or other programs) off of a USB flash drive.
In preparing for the session I had a really informative email exchange with Larry Stamm about how McBride Public Library is using Edubuntu (the educational version of Ubuntu) and thin clients for patron and circulation workstations. After we finished we learned about how Prince George Public Library is using a Linux thin client for some of their patron workstations. I can’t wait to check this out when I’m there next week.
The preconference session on open source was good too. I always enjoy hearing what Brian Owen and Mark Jordan have to say. Mark Leggott is doing some really creative things with open source at UPEI. It was nice to hear my quasi super-boss Ben Hyman talk about the past and future of Evergreen in BC. I think most of these speakers are used to speaking to the Access crowd, so all of the in jokes about “Mark Leggott moving to UPEI” and goats were lost. I’d like to see the tech community in libraries move away from the culture of insider jokes to be more welcoming and accessible to human beings and new geeks alike.