The application profiles and development characteristics of library Open Source Software projects

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Purpose – Little is known as to the breadth and diversity of Open Source Software (OSS) applications for libraries and the development characteristics that influence the sustainability and success of projects creating them. The purpose of this paper is to address this gap by analyzing a large sample of library OSS projects. Design/methodology/approach – A total of 594 library OSS projects (469 from SourceForge and 125 from Foss4lib) are classified by type and further differentiated and assessed across a number of criteria including, but not limited to, sponsorship status, license type, and development status. Findings – While various types of library OSS applications were found to be under development and in use, the results show that there has been a steady decrease in the number of projects initiated since 2009. Although sponsorship was significantly positively associated with several indicators of OSS project success, the proportion of sponsored projects was relatively small compared to the proportions reported in some other contexts. In total, 71 percent of the projects have a restrictive license scheme, suggesting that the OSS ideology is valued among library OSS projects. The results also indicate that library OSS projects exhibit several characteristics that differ from the traditional developer-oriented OSS projects in terms of their technical environment. Originality/value – This study, as the first of its kind, offers a broader, more quantitative picture of the state of library OSS applications as well as the development characteristics of projects developing them. Several implications for research and practice, and directions for future research are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)260-275
Number of pages16
JournalLibrary Hi Tech
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 10 2014

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited.


  • Library systems
  • Open Source Software
  • Software development
  • Software licensing
  • Software sponsorship

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Library and Information Sciences


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