​​LYRASIS was pleased to be awarded an IMLS National Leadership Grant for “It Takes A Village: Open Source Software Models of Collaboration & Sustainability.”


The one year grant provided funding for a convening of close to 50 stakeholders from open source software initiatives that serve cultural heritage organizations to elucidate characteristics and forms of sustainability models as well as factors affecting sustainability. Information gathered during the forum will contribute to the creation of a sustainability roadmap which will provide paths for planning and assessment for new and existing open source projects. The forum will have lasting impact by raising awareness of the requirements for open source sustainability, the variety of potential models, and factors that influence sustainability at different stages of a software’s lifecycle.

It Takes A Village National Forum Event Summary
October 4-5, 2017
Baltimore, MD

The overall goal of the “It Takes a Village” project is to create a report which will document current practices for sustaining open source initiatives, create a sustainability roadmap to provide paths for planning and assessment for new and existing projects, and provide a resource allocation guide for each phase of an open source software project’s life cycle.

Gathering the data to write the report took two primary forms: a survey which we distributed to 25 open source projects in the cultural heritage sphere; and a forum held in early October in which one or two representatives from each responding project came to talk about their specific experiences. Our agenda was very focused on small working groups, during which the project’s advisory group facilitated open and honest conversations about project lifecycles, governance, financing, resources, community building, outreach and communications, and bumps in the road.

Some of the major themes that emerged: sustainability is cyclical, not a straight line, and it has many facets. You can be up on finances, down on governance, and in the middle on community outreach - and it can all change the next year. We also talked about balance - how to serve current implementers but plan for the future, have a diversified income stream (but not too diversified), how to balance work on our OSS projects with other priorities. The participants were also very happy to be able to connect with one another. For every person in the room who was a familiar face in OSS circles, there was another who was completely new to everyone.

We took dozens of pages of notes, saved slides and giant scratch pad pages, took photographs, and even walked away with a few Polaroids (courtesy of one of our attendees). We will dive into all this data over the coming months and pull out themes, lessons, and guides to write our report which should be available by March 2018.

​​​​​Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
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