LIBRARY À LA CARTE: OPEN SOURCE SOFTWARE FOR LIBRARY RESEARCH GUIDES
The core mission of university libraries is to provide access to books, journals, data and primary sources to enhance and enable research and education. High-quality resources can be overlooked or obscured when students are accustomed to gathering information using commercial search engines. In an effort to connect with student researchers when they need library resources, many libraries have built online research guides tied to specific subjects and courses. These guides can address specific assignments where research is required, and course instructors can point students to the guides to assist them in completing their research assignments successfully. In 2006, Oregon State University (OSU) Libraries developed an open source software product called Library à la Carte for librarians to easily and quickly build research guides. The code was made available to other libraries, and the tool has been adopted by a number of institutions. A successful user community has grown up around Library à la Carte, but development up to this point has been the sole responsibility of OSU Libraries. We are now embarking on building a robust developer community, to contribute code, build additional features and to take Library à la Carte into the future. As part of our plan to move forward, we will be testing a hosted (cloud based) version of the software. We will show Library à la Carte, present what we’ve learned from our test and discuss moving forward with building a developer community. We’ll talk about the benefits and challenges of building and sustaining an open source product from the ground up.