NewGenLib, a library automation system developed in India, has recently joined the open source community. This product was introduced in 2003, primarily intended for libraries in the developing world. It has been adopted by about 122 libraries, primarily in India, but with some sites in Syria, Sudan, and Cambodia.
Two groups collaborate in the development and support of NewGenLib. Kesavan Institute of Information and Knowledge Management (KIIKM) is a non-profit professional trust that spearheads the project. This organization describes its primary goal as “acting as an independent, non-governmental centre for the study, training and advocacy in information and knowledge management.” The key activities and funding for the trust relate primarily to NewGenLib, the development of a textbook on library automation, and on the creation of e-learning modules on library automation. Versus Solutions, a small software development company, performs the technical development of the software. Both organizations are located in Hyderabad, India.
The software has been distributed under the traditional commercial license model since 2003. In January 2008, the decision was made to offer the system as open source software under the GNU GPL (General Public License). According to L.J. Haravu, one of the three principals of KIIKM, the move to an open source model would result in wider adoption of the software. The organizations involved would move from a license-based business model to one based on service.
A new company was formed, Versus IT Services Pvt. Ltd., to provide service and support for the product as it moves into the open source realm. The relationship of this new company to NewGenLib closely resembles that of Liblime to Koha and Equinox Software to Evergreen.
NewGenLib, as an ILS tailored for libraries in developing countries, may not necessarily be of direct interest to libraries in our region. It does, however, show that the open source approach for library automation system has also made some advances internationally.