Free and Open Source Software Movement in LIS Profession in Pakistan

By Rehman, Ata ur; Mahmood, Khalid et al. | Library Philosophy and Practice, July 2012 | Go to article overview

Free and Open Source Software Movement in LIS Profession in Pakistan


Rehman, Ata ur, Mahmood, Khalid, Bhatti, Rubina, Library Philosophy and Practice


1- Background of the Study

Free and Open Source Software, usually abbreviated as FOSS, F/OSS or simply OSS is a very important and popular category of software in the world. Richard Stallman (A long time Programmer at Massachusetts Institute of Technology - MIT from 1971 to 1983) founded the movement and introduced GNU (Abbreviation of GNU's Not Unix) manifesto. The purpose of GNU project was to develop a UNIX like Free and Open Source Operating System to be launched under a public license, GPL (General Public License). Linus Torvalds, a second year student at the University of Helsinki developed a UNIX like operating system in 1991 which is known as Linux now. The outcome of this movement is a long list of very useful Free and Open Source Software in every category of life. FOSS software are very popular in every continent of the world.

Libraries in all over the world adopted the software system for cataloging, classification and dissemination of information. In Pakistan, FOSS Movement is relatively at early stage and the movement is spreading slowly but steadily. Although a few articles are available about the perception of LIS community towards FOSS and adoption but there is a need to record the history of FOSS Movement in Pakistan. This study is an effort to fill this gap in literature about FOSS Movement in Pakistan.

2- Problem Statement and Objectives of the Study

Free and Open Source Software Movement has provided alternatives for almost each category of information management systems. Libraries of Pakistan are also adopting Free and Open Source Software for daily tasks of libraries including Integrated Library Systems, Digital Library Systems, Content Management Systems, etc. Professional associations of library and information science (ILS) and individuals have contributed a lot for the promotion of this movement and FOSS in Pakistan by creating awareness among library professionals and by taking active part in the development and customization of favorite library software in last few years. The objective of this study is to keep the record of all these efforts of professional bodies and individuals. Another objective of the study is to find out the hurdles involved in the promotion of FOSS in Pakistan.

3- Methodology

Literature review and interviews of the eminent experts of Free and Open Source Software in country has been chosen to conduct this study. For this purpose the researchers interviewed nine eminent scholars and activists of FOSS thorough phone, chat, e-mail, video chat, etc (List of respondents is given as Annex I) and got their point of view about the FOSS movement in Pakistan. For this purpose a semi-structured interview method was used and questions related to the history of FOSS, their role and activities in this movement, future of FOSS and suggestions for the promotion of FOSS were asked. Also the activities of these individuals have been noted from the archives of major LISTSERVS (PakLAG, Librarianwelfare, Libcoop, etc). Archives of official websites of library science professional bodies have been used too. For this purpose the information has been recorded from the following websites:

* LISolutions http://lisolutions.org/

* PakLAG http://www.paklag.org/

* PLWO http://www.plworg.com/

* PULISAA http://www.pulisaa.org.pk/

4- Literature Review and Discussion

Herman (2008) states that in early ages of software development (1950's and onward), computer companies provided the software along with hardware. As hardware was the major focus of these companies, the price of software was very low or nominal. Programmers at the time had grown up in an era of freely shared software, much the same as many share cooking recipes.

Open Source Software, abbreviated as OSS is computer software that is released under some free/public license and it permits users to study, change and improve the software (Kandar, Mondal & Ray, 2011). …

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