For a longer definition of open-source licensing and how it differs from commercial, proprietary licensing, see Open Source for Beginners at OSSwatch.
Linux for beginners:
Wikipedia has a good definition of Linux and links to other resources. If you want to know more about the different flavors of Linux out there, see the top ten list on DistroWatch, which compares the most popular Linux distributions. A larger matrix is available on Wikipedia.
Ubuntu for beginners:
For Ubuntu, the official documentation and the User wiki are great resources. In particular, you might want to look at Switching to Ubuntu from Windows and documentation about using the LiveCD. If you’re a visual learner, watch some of the “how to” screencasts. Once you’ve decided want to install it permanently, check out Installing Ubuntu or Dual Boot Ubuntu and Windows. Of course, you should back up important data and get permission from your IT department before you try this.
Open-source software for libraries:
Koha and Evergreen are the open-source projects with the highest profile among libraries and librarians. Koha is an Integrated Library System (ILS) for small and medium-sized library systems. Evergreen is an ILS for large systems and consortia. However, there are dozens of library-centric programs, designed to handle everything from patron management to interlibrary loan. The lists on OSS4Lib, Library Success Wiki and Sourceforge are all good starting places.
In other cases, the library community is extending and adapting software that already exists rather than writing new programs from the ground up. For example, a lot of libraries use Drupal, Joomla, Plone or WordPress to manage their Web presence. Drupal for Libraries, Joomla for Libraries, Plinkit (based on Plone) and Scriblio (based on WordPress) are four sites with more information on the ways that open-source software is being adapted for use in libraries. Also, the Library Success Wiki directs you to numerous sites that help you integrate your Firefox Web browser with your library’s digital resources.
Open-source software for windows:
If you’re not ready to switch your entire library to Ubuntu or another Linux-based operating system, take a look at the Open Source for Windows page. Rather than overwhelm you with a thousand choices, this site lists roughly 60 popular programs that run on Windows and breaks them down into categories. For a more comprehensive list, see the OSSwin Project. If you’re just looking for all the free software you can download, check out these popular freeware sites. But bear in mind that freeware is not the same as open-source, because you usually can’t view or modify the source code of a freeware program.
Introductory material: If you’re having trouble with the gaming terminology, InfoPeople has a handy glossary. Animeted.org has a great discussion of the practical details involved in setting up a gaming event (though some of the technical details are a bit out of date). You’ll also find excellent advice on the Library Success Wiki, including tips and suggestions from libraries with successful gaming programs. And if you want to talk to a colleague about his or her experience with gaming events, the Wiki provides contact information for libraries of all sizes. Gaming the Way to Literacy tells the story of a poor, rural library in South Carolina using gaming to engage youth and promote reading.
Advanced resources: If you’re looking for a longer, more detailed discussion of gaming in libraries, ALA devoted two recent issues of Library Technology Reports to this subject (both edited by Jenny Levine). Also, Eli Neiburger, who manages the highly successful gaming program at Ann Arbor Public Library, has written a book about gaming tournaments. Finally, the library gaming listserv is a great place to ask specific questions. If you’re really excited about the intersection of games and libraries, you might attend the second annual Gaming, Learning and Libraries Conference this November or read up on the latest academic research being conducted at the Library Game Lab.
Gaming blogs: There are too many blogs covering this topic to mention them all, but Game On and The Shifted Librarian are especially strong on library gaming. ALA also has some great postings at their Gaming News site.
Everything You Need to Know About Web 2.0 TechSoup explains ways nonprofits can benefit from the use of emerging technologies.
Five Weeks to a Social Library The first free, grassroots, completely online course devoted to teaching librarians about social software and how to use it in their libraries. It was developed to provide a free, comprehensive and social online learning opportunity for librarians who do not otherwise have access to conferences or continuing education and who would benefit greatly from learning about social software.
Library 2.0: A Guide to Participatory Library Service, by Michael E. Casey and Laura Savastinuk. Medford, NJ: Information Today, Inc. 2007.
Library 2.0 Theory: Web 2.0 and Its Implications for Libraries This article by Jack M. Maness of the University of Colorado at Boulder Libraries addresses the application of Web 2.0 social software in libraries.
Library 2.0: Service for the Next-Generation Library, by Michael E. Casey and Laura C. Savastinuk, Library Journal, 2006. This article brought the concepts of Web 2.0 into the library arena, dubbing them Library 2.0. Explains “long tail,” collaboration, social networking, tools and services for today’s users.
OPAL: Online Programming for All Libraries is a collaborative effort by libraries of all types to provide free Web-based programs and training for library users and library staff members. You can find free courses, such as the Ten Top Technologies for Librarians, Day of the Digital Audio Book, Wikis and How to Google: An Introduction to Searching the Web.
SirsiDynix Institute includes free Webinars on blogs and libraries, Library 2.0, gaming, etc.
Techcrunch profiles and reviews Internet products and companies.
The Future of Libraries: Beginning the Great Transformation, Thomas Frey, Executive Director of the DaVinci Institute.
The Machine Is Us/ing Us is a YouTube video that explains the dynamic Web.
Web 2.0 This Wikipedia article does a good job of explaining the various services that make up Web 2.0 and the technologies behind it.
Web 2.0 and Libraries: Best Practices for Social Software This article from ALA's TechSource by Michael Stephens of Tame the Web, discusses how Web 2.0 social software can be put to use in libraries.
WebJunction’s Online Courses Everything from basic computing skills to training on advocacy and outreach.
WebJunction Webinars Live and archived free Webinars on topics including technology, training and outreach.
ALA TechSource Blog is published by the American Library Association with authors Michelle Boule, Michael Casey, Michael Golrick, Teresa Koltzenburg, Jenny Levine, Tom Peters, Karen G. Schneider and Michael Stephens.
BlogJunction is WebJunction’s blog authored by WJ staff and will keep you up-to-date on WJ events, programs and staff observations.
Information Wants to Be Free by Meredith Farkas, Distance Learning Librarian at Norwich University, includes posts regarding the library profession and technology.
It's All Good is maintained by five Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) staff members, with posts about “all things present and future that impact libraries and library users.”
MCLC Library Tech Talk. Blog of a technology interest group in Maricopa Country, AZ. Profiles a different Web 2.0 tool every Friday.
LibrarianInBlack is by Sarah Houghton-Jan, Information and Web Services Manager for the San Mateo County Library, who writes “resources and discussions for the ‘tech-librarians-by-default’ among us.”
LibraryCrunch: Service for the Next-Generation Library — A Library 2.0 Perspective, by Michael Casey.
Stephen’s Lighthouse by Stephen Abram, SirsiDynix’s Vice President of Innovation, includes his thoughts on library technology issues and notes from his national presentations.
Tame the Web: Libraries and Technology by Michael Stephens, Instructor in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at Dominican University, focuses on Web 2.0 and Library 2.0, technology-related articles and presentations and technology trends.
The Shifted Librarian by Jennie Levine, Internet Development Specialist and Strategy Guide, American Library Association, contains posts on technology gadgets, gaming and social technologies.
Podcasts: These are audio-only broadcasts that can be downloaded for free online.
CNET Networks Includes podcasts such as Buzz Out Loud, Gadgettes and MP3 Insider.
Talking with Talis Listen to conversations about the interface between Web 2.0, libraries and the Semantic Web.
TWiT: This Week in Tech Free podcasts on technology topics.
PLCMC’s Learning 2.0 project, an online self-discovery program that encourages the exploration of Web 2.0 tools and new technologies, specifically, 23 Things.
Princeton Public Library’s wiki for a summer reading club.
Infodoodads Librarians review online info tools.
Superpatron. Edward Vielmetti is a patron of the Ann Arbor District Library and a member of its Technology Advisory Board.
Hennepin County Library offers RSS feeds, comments within library catalog and Amazon links from the catalog.
Lansing Public Library Home Page The Lansing Public Library in Illinois offers RSS feeds and podcasting.
Wadsworth Public Library in Ohio is using MySpace for teen programming.
Western Springs History This is a joint project of the Thomas Ford Memorial Library and Western Springs Historical Society. It uses blog software to share photographs and collect comments from the public.
Westerville Public Library -- Celebrate Westerville's 150th Anniversary. This is a great example of the power of Flickr, used to create a timeline and show images of the town’s history.
The Coastal Resource Sharing Network (CRSN) is a consortium of public and academic libraries serving Tillamook and Lincoln counties in Oregon. Their staff intranet includes email contacts for all library staff, documentation, policy documents, reports, events, current and historical collection and circulation statistics, and a Staff Toolkit of special tools for staff use, including the Weed-O-maker, to generate shelf lists for weeding, reporting or other purposes.
Ann Arbor District Library, Michigan, has an innovative online presence created through the use of an open-source content management system, several blog mechanisms that allow easily updated content to display on the front page and a dedication to interaction with library patrons. AADL has created a thriving community with an online branch. In the teen area and gaming blogs, it is not unusual to see discussions with more than 200 comments.
Public classes at ImaginOn, a collaborative venture of the Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County and the Children’s Theatre of Charlotte include:
Princeton Public Library offers an amazing array of technology classes for the public, including “Fantastic Freebies for Everyone,” which focuses on free Web 2.0 tools. Here’s the class description: “Contrary to popular belief, there is such a thing as a ‘free lunch,’ and you can find it on the Web. The number of free services, sites and downloads is multiplying monthly at an astonishing rate in a new era of Internet innovation. This class will take you on a tour of some of the hottest freebies currently available. Everything from system tools to image editors to word processors and much more can all be found online for no cost. This session will ensure you know where to find the newest and most useful tools to keep you on the cutting edge of technology.”