Open source, open minds?:
: An investigation into attitudes towards open source library management systems in UK higher education libraries

  • John Mark Dalling

Student thesis: Master's ThesisMaster of Economic and Social Studies


This study sought to investigate why higher education libraries in the United Kingdom have been reluctant to select open source library management systems (LMSs). A literature review revealed the historical background to open source LMSs and their advantages and disadvantages. Using social research methods, the study then examined how higher education librarians perceive these systems and sought reasons why they have yet to be embraced. Finally, analysis of the results was undertaken and compared with relevant literature to investigate whether attitudes are likely to change in the future, and suggest whether open source LMS adoption will increase. A quantitative online questionnaire was used to gain a broad overview of current attitudes to open source LMSs; this was sent to all 181 libraries within the UK higher education sector found to have reliable contact details, and received a response rate of 46.4%. The questionnaire was followed by qualitative telephone interviews with five selected professionals to examine in detail the reasoning behind different opinions. The results suggest that UK higher education libraries rely on peer feedback when choosing
a LMS. With limited experience and a need for strong commercial support given uncertainty about staffing in the present financial climate, librarians within the sector are reluctant to choose open source LMSs. Participants also demonstrated a lack of motivation to change from current LMSs, suggesting limited adoption of alternatives in the near future. A higher number of questionnaire respondents reported considering adopting an open source LMS than in Adamson et al. (2008), however this may be due to open source advocates being more likely to participate. Increased use of open source LMSs in the longer term may depend on the experience of any pioneers adopting these systems within the sector, and whether they are overtaken by newer cloud‐based alternatives currently being developed.
Date of Award2011
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
SupervisorPauline Rafferty (Supervisor)

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