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Working with Vendors

Although switching to an OSS ILS is often a challenging process requiring significant time and technical experience, there are many resources available to help libraries with the evaluation and migration process. Vendors like LibLime (with its own separate source code) and ByWater Solutions for Koha and Equinox for Koha and Evergreen provide support to libraries without technical staff. There are also many resources and sources of documentation for individual OSS ILS available online.

Best Practices for Working with Vendors:

  • Read contracts carefully.  Do not be afraid to ask questions and request changes. (Sometimes the other party has a completely different meaning for a word than you do.  Make sure you are on the same page.)
  • Make sure there is an explicit timeline and procedure for the release of usable source code.
  • See that you are guaranteed and entitled to access the source code, in case you need to switch developers, bring additional developers on board, or try to fix the problems in-house.
  • Remember, open source vendors are still vendors.  
  • Provide specific examples when reporting problems.  Specific example will help the developers determine what the problem is.  Especially if there are problems with the use of terms, having examples will help prevent miscommunication.
  • Designate a liaison between library staff and developers.  The liaison will have to be someone who understands or can learn enough about what the developers are doing so that they can translate any problems or explanations from one group to the other.
  • Set up regular meetings for those involved in the migration project.  Regular meetings keep everyone focused and on task.  It also provides an opportunity for questions, concerns, and problems to be addressed quickly.