February 17, 2018

Abilene Christian U. Students Building on DCPL Open Source Code: Everybody Benefits

As seen on Reporter News, students at Abilene Christian University (ACU) are taking up the work done at the District of Columbia Public Library (DCPL) to create a mobile library catalog app, extending it to serve their own university’s libary population:

Jacob Poulette presented a group project tied in to the city’s Abilene Library Consortium, based on a open-source project started by the District of Columbia’s public library.

"They created an app to allow users to search their catalog and reserve books," he said. "We’re taking, adding on it and expanding on it to make it useful for the Abilene area."

Poulette said he hopes the project will be done by fall, meaning students and those in the community will be able to browse through and reserve local library resources more easily.

Though not unheard of, it’s not all that often that we see development efforts originate on the public library side and then get ported over to the academic community, as is the case here.

Moreover, it’s great to see this kind of development coming from the students themselves, especially as a product of their fortunate circumstances: all incoming freshmen at the school are given either an iPhone or an iPod Touch. Now they’re taking advantage of DCPL’s generous open licensing of its mobile library app and catalog interface (a move much lauded at the recent SirsiDynix Joint Users Group meeting) to effectively multiply the efforts of the original DCPL developers by their own. This benefits the ACU community of faculty, staff, and other students (at least those with iPhones and iPods), not to mention any others who may soon take up a similar project on behalf of library communities elsewhere.

Give people the right tools—easy access to APIs, mature open source project code to work with, a robust development platform—and watch the benefits multiply.

Josh Hadro About Josh Hadro

Josh Hadro (@hadro on Twitter) is the former Executive Editor of Library Journal.