Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Tools for Use

Academic journal article Library Technology Reports

Tools for Use

Article excerpt

There are many tools available to libraries to facilitate communication, project management, and work flow. All of the tools highlighted in this chapter fall into one of three categories:

* free on a small-scale or trial basis

* open-source and thus "free," but will require some staff time

* free

Many tools that are available on a free basis with limited features can be upgraded to the pay version inexpensively. The pay version will often allow you to utilize more features; however, for many, the free versions work fine. For most of the tools, institutional accounts are available. Open-source options are, of course, free, but most do require that you have server space and someone who can install and run the software. The tools that are free and do not require server space are referred to as "hosted." This means you will have less control, but you will not need someone to install and customize the tool for you. There are also many, many services available on the Web to organizations that can afford to pay. Some of them have very limited free trials, often 30 or 60 days. I believe that most libraries cannot afford the high-priced services of these companies, so I have left them off this list. If you prefer to go with the higher priced services, they are easily findable on the Web.

Web Conferencing

VMukti Meeting Place free, open-source

Meeting Place, a software tool from VMukti, allows you to schedule a one-time meeting, set up a recurring meeting, create a space for ongoing meetings (essentially an open room), and create instant meetings. The interface is easy to use. Meeting Place uses a combination of .NET Framework and Asterisk to eliminate the need for users to download a client onto their computer. Meetings can be open or private, and there are many modules and options from which to choose.

Meeting Place is an open-source tool and offers a range of video, audio, and Web conferencing options. To install and run Meeting Place, you need a server running an SQL database. In addition to documentation, VMukti has video tutorials on everything from setting up your server for Meeting Place to using the poll feature of the tool. VMukti provides support for all its tools, with additional installation and training support offered for $100 USD.

DimDim

free, open-source, or hosted at $8 per month, $99 per year

DimDim is a browser-based Web conferencing tool that allows audio, video, screen, and document sharing; whiteboards with annotations; multiuser chat options; polls; a

Question Manager that acts like a moderated Q&A; and a recording and archiving feature. DimDim will soon be able to integrate with Moodle, an open-source course management system, and options are being explored for use with Sakai, an open-source learning system, and dotLRN, an open-source learning system built at MIT.

There are two options when using DimDim. It is a free, open-source tool licensed under a Mozilla Public License 1.1 with attribution. DimDim has been ported to Windows and Linux servers, and it supports languages other than English, though the specific languages supported were not listed on the DimDim Web site. The Web site cautions that this open-source release is meant for "technically skilled early adopters." DimDim does have a hosted version, which runs on their server. This service costs $8 a month or $99 per year, and attendees are limited to 20 per meeting, with unlimited meetings.

Attendees using DimDim must use at least IE 6 or Firefox 1.5. There is no download required for users. Presenters must use IE6 or Firefox 1.5 on Windows XP/2000/2003.

Yugma

free for 10 people and with limited features; scale pricing for more attendees and features

Yugma is a hosted Web conferencing tool, so it does not require that you have server space. It does require the person calling the meeting to install a program on their computer. …

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