A-Z Glossary of FOSS for libraries

An A to Z list of free and open source software tools for libraries

You are here



Ball, Simon
August 2014

Suggestions for additional entries are welcome and can be sent direct to Simon Ball.  


ABCD is an integrated library management software that covers the main library functions, with web centrality and FOSS development and maintenance. It originated from the ISIS suite.


AccessApps is a suite of over 60 open source and freeware Windows applications which run from a USB stick. AccessApps provides a range of solutions to support writing, reading and planning as well as specific disabilities. For example, there are programs to help you change the background colour of the computer screen, or to help you locate the cursor on the screen. There are also mind-mapping and audio-recording tools, amongst others. 


Aleph is a Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) Integrated Library System supported by Ex Libris. 

Apache Solr

Apache Solr (also known as Lucene/Solr after the merger of the two projects) is an enterprise search platform written in Java, often used to enable faceted searching and resource discovery.


Balabolka is a free, open source, cross-platform text-to-speech tool. It reads aloud text from the screen to aid people who have difficulties in reading, whether due to vision impairments or reading difficulties (including dyslexia) in English, Bulgarian, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Czech, Dutch, French, German, Hungarian, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese (Brazil), Portuguese (Portugal), Romanian, Russian, Spanish, Ukrainian.


Blacklight is a ruby-on-rails based discovery interface especially optimized for heterogeneous collections. It can be used as an OPAC, as a front end for a digital repository, or as a single-search interface to aggregate digital content that would otherwise be siloed.


CDS/ISIS is a software package for generalised Information Storage and Retrieval systems developed, maintained and disseminated by UNESCO. WinISIS is the Windows version.


CUFTS is an electronic resource management tool that, along with GODOT and dbWiz, makes up the reSearcher suite of tools.


dbWiz provides a single integrated search results page for multiple library resources, and is part of the reSearcher suite of tools. Simon Frazer University Library has recently announced that it is unable to continue developing, supporting, or hosting the dbWiz federated search software and it has been withdrawn from the reSearcher and Sourceforge websites.

Disability Tools

There are many FOSS tools that can be used to support library users and staff with their everyday work, especially those with disabilities, ranging from tools that change the screen colour or highlight the cursor, to tools that read on-screen text aloud, to tools that assist with note-making or planning.

  • Languages: Varies - for example Balabolka, the text-to-speech tool, is configured for 21 languages, with Help files in 6 languages
  • (jisctechdis.ac.uk/techdis/technologymatters/enablingtech/FOSS) Homepage
  • Download page 
  • Licence: It varies for each tool. AccessApps is free only for educational purposes
  • User community: Join some of the (jisctechdis.ac.uk/techdis/aboutus/keepintouch) mailing lists
  • Developer community: It varies


dLibra is a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software suite that enables building repositories of digital documents which can be accessed via the Internet. 


Drupal is a Content Management System (CMS) written in PHP. The standard release of Drupal, known as Drupal Core, contains basic features common to most CMSs, including user account registration and maintenance, menu management, RSS feeds, page layout customization, and system administration.

  • Languages: 63 languages, including English, French, Russian, Arabic, Albanian, Romanian, Lithuanian, Estonian, Serbian, Thai, Slovenian, Hebrew, Khmer, Swahili, Georgian and Nepali.
  • Homepage
  • Download page
  • Licence: GNU General Public License (GPL)
  • User community
  • Developer community


DSpace is a FOSS digital asset management tool, commonly used as the basis for institutional repositories.


EasyDeposit is an Open Source SWORD client creation toolkit to enable you to create customised SWORD deposit web interfaces from within your browser. 


Eduroam is a secure wireless server developed for the international research and education community to support the mobility needs of staff, students and researchers. Over 50 countries now offer this service.

Languages: any
Download page
User community - see Individual national operating NRENs


EPrints is a FOSS repository software tool.


Equinox (esilibrary.com) Software employs core developers from both the Evergreen and Koha ILS projects to provide PAID-FOR support on these Open Source ILS tools.


Evergreen is an open source Integrated Library System (ILS) software.

Ex Libris

Ex Libris is a company providing and supporting Commercial Off-The-Shelf (COTS) tools including the Integrated Library System Aleph. 


EZproxy (oclc.org/us/en/ezproxy/default.htm) is a web proxy server program that is NOT OPEN SOURCE extensively used by libraries to give access from outside the library's computer network to restricted-access websites that authenticate users by IP address. This allows library patrons at home or elsewhere to log in through their library's EZproxy server and gain access to bibliographic databases to which their library subscribes. 


Fedora is an architecture for Digital Asset Management upon which many types of digital library, institutional repository and digital archive can be built.

Frontline SMS

Frontline SMS turns a laptop and mobile phone into ao communications hub, allowing the user to communicate with groups of people (e.g. library users) readily using SMS.


GODOT, a part of the reSearcher suite of tools, provides direct links to full-text collections via the CUFTS KnowledgeBase.


Greenstone is a FOSS software suite for building digital collections on the internet or CD-ROM.

  • Languages: English, French, Spanish, Russian are the main languages, but translations have been undertaken for many more, including Armenian, Arabic, Latvian, Mongolian, Nepali, Polish and Portuguese
  • Homepage
  • Download page
  • Licence: GNU General Public License (GPL)
  • User community
  • Developer community


Horizon is a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) Integrated Library System supplied by SirsiDynix. 


ILIAS is an Open Source Learning Management System for developing and delivering web-based e-learning and is published under the GNU General Public Licence. 


Invenio enables you to run a web-enabled digital library or repository.


IR+ is an institutional repository tool. It includes tools to support authoring, co-authoring and self-publishing. It is aimed at helping users preserve and publish digital information.  


Islandora combines the Drupal and Fedora open software applications to create a digital asset management system.


J-ISIS is software for creating, updating and searching textual databases. It is Unicode based, an advantage for users requiring extended characters or different alphabets.


Keystone is a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) Integrated Library System supplied by Keystone Systems. 


Koha is a popular FOSS Integrated Library System (ILS).


LAMP is an acronym for a solution stack of free, open source software, originally coined from the first letters of Linux (operating system), Apache HTTP Server, MySQL (database software) and PHP/Perl/Python, principal components to build a viable general purpose web server. Similar terms exist for essentially the same software suite (AMP) running on other operating systems, such as Microsoft Windows (WAMP), Mac OS (MAMP), Solaris (SAMP), or OpenBSD (OAMP).When used together, they form a solution stack of technologies that support application servers.http://www.debianhelp.co.uk/lamp.htm

Lemur Toolkit

The Lemur Toolkit is an Open Source software framework for building language modeling and information retrieval software, and the INDRI search engine. 


Liberty3 is the latest version of the Liberty OPAC interface supplied by Softlink.


Metalib is a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) federated search system developed by Ex Libris. MetaLib is often used in conjunction with the SFX OpenURL resolver. 


Miftaah is a USB key comprising a set of free and open source software (FOSS) for Arabic users. Its second version contains applications frequently used in technical and science education, such as physics, chemistry, computer science, as well as tools for image processing and entertainment. 


Millennium is a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) Integrated Library System supplied by Innovative Interfaces. 


Miro is an open source internet television application.


Moodle is a Course Management System (CMS), also known as a Learning Management System (LMS) or a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). It is a free web application that educators can use to create effective online learning sites. 


Mukurtu is an archival platform originally designed for native Australian cultures to organize, manage and share their digital cultural materials in line with their cultural protocols. It has become a user-friendly and culturally relevant system embedded with Warumungu social and cultural protocols, potentially useful for any inidigenous community, archive, library or museum. 


MyLibrary is a user-driven, customizable portal to enable access to web-based collections. 


NewGenLib is an open source integrated library management system developed by Verus Solutions. It is a user-friendly ILS with support available from the developers.

  • Languages: 51 including Albanian, Arabic, Belarusian, English, Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, Serbian, Slovenian, Swahili, Thai and Ukrainian
  • Homepage
  • Download page
  • Licence: GNU General Public License (GPL) version 3
  • User community
  • Developer community


OpenBiblio is an integrated library management system designed for small libraries and is based on MARC21 cataloguing.

Open Harvester Systems (OHS)

OHS is a free metadata indexing system created by PKP, allowing you to create a searchable index of the metadata from Open Archives Initiative (OAI)-compliant archives.

Open Journal Systems (OJS)

Open Journal Systems (OJS) is software for the management of peer-review journals, created by the Public Knowledge Project.

Open Monograph Press (OMP)

OMP is an open source software platform from PKP for managing the editorial workflow required to process monographs, edited volumes and scholarly editions through internal and external review, editing, cataloguing, production and publication.

PKP (Public Knowledge Project)

The PKP's suite of software includes five separate, but inter-related applications to demonstrate the feasibility of open access: the Open Journal Systems, the Open Conference Systems, the PKP Open Archives Harvester, Open Monograph Press (in development), and Lemon8-XML. 

PMB/ PHPmyLibrary/ PHPmyBibli

PMB is an Integrated Library System (ILS), featuring most of the functional modules of an ILS, including circulation, cataloguing, reporting, SDI (Selective Dissemination of Information Service), administration and acquisition. It utilises UNIMARC and Z39.50 and has multi-language support, originating in French. 


Raptor is a software suite for accounting of authentication information, primarily designed to assist organisations to account for e-resource usage. It works with systems that handle authentication events such as Shibboleth, OpenAthens and EZProxy. 


ResCarta Tools is a suite of Open Source software applications which can assist in the creation of standardized digital objects. ResCarta Tools are open and modular in their design. Modules for creating digital objects store the metadata in Library of Congress METS/ MODS/MIX XML formats. Collection and indexing modules create LUCENE indexes for high speed fielded and full text retrieval of objects. Collections can be hosted on the web using Apache TOMCAT and the ResCarta WEB application, which provides inline metadata using COINS. Integrating the use of DLESE OAI is done using the Collection Manager METS XML data.  


reSearcher is an integrated suite of tools (CUFTS, GODOT and dbWiz - see also their individual entries) for locating and managing electronic information resources.


Sakai is a Java-based, service-oriented Course Management System, or Collaboration and Learning Environment (CLE). The Sakai CLE is a free, community source, educational software platform distributed under the Educational Community License. 


Shibboleth is a means of delivering federated identity-based authentication and authorization based on SAML.


SimpleSAMLphp is a means of delivering authentication and authorization. It is based on SAML and written in PHP.

  • Languages: Bokmål, Nynorsk, Sámi, Dansk, Deutsch, Español, Svenska, Suomeksi, Français, Italiano, Nederlands, Luxembourgish, Czech, Slovenščina, Hrvatski, Magyar, Język polski, Português, Português brasileiro, Türkçe
  • Homepage
  • Download page
  • Licence: GNU LGPL
  • User community
  • Developer community


SOUL is a commercial, off-the-shelf (COTS) Integrated Library System from India and used in many Indian University Libraries. 


SubjectsPlus is a FOSS tool for creating and managing online research guides.


SWORD is a lightweight PROTOCOL for depositing content from one location to another. It stands for Simple Web-service Offering Repository Deposit and is a profile of the Atom Publishing Protocol (APP). 


TINlib was a .NET library, written in C#, that was an early development in electronic cataloguing but which is no longer used.


uPortal is a Java-based framework (under the Apache License 2.0) for creating enterprise web portals. It is sponsored by Jasig, a consortium of education institutions and commercial affiliates sponsoring open source software projects focused on higher education. uPortal has integrated Apache Software Foundation's Pluto software to become JSR 168 compliant allowing it to host portlets.

Virtual Magnifying Glass

Virtual Magnifying Glass is a free, open source, cross-platform screen magnification tool available on a GNU General Public Licence. It is simple, customizable, and easy-to-use.


VuFind is an Open Source (GNU GPL) library resource portal designed and developed for libraries by libraries.


WordPress is an easy to use blogging tool and Content Management System that operates on PHP and MySQL but needs no knowledge of either to use.


XAMPP (X (meaning cross-platform), Apache, MySQL, PHP, Perl) acts as a free web server capable of serving dynamic pages. XAMPP is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux, Solaris, and Mac OS X, and is mainly used for web development projects as a free and open source cross-platform web server package. 

Xerte Online Toolkits

Xerte Online Toolkits is a FOSS tool for creating accessible e-learning objects, designed to be used by people with little technical knowledge. You can easily incorporate into Xerte objects a variety of media (graphics, video, audio, Youtube and Flickr imports etc) and there are multiple display options including quizzes and games.


Zotero is a FOSS reference management add-on for Firefox.