Almost half (40) of Denmark's 98 municipalities are jointly developing an open source system to make most of the resources at the libraries available in the form of web services. The project, named Ting, supports libraries to bring their services online.
Users access the services of the Ting libraries via websites. These are based on the Drupal open source content management system. It helps to avoid web browser dependencies and allows services to be reformatted for different computer screens and smart phones.
Ting offers several methods for libraries to create new applications and services. Options include using JSON, XML and reusable widgets. These access a central data warehouse which takes its data from many different library databases and other data sources, including search engines and online multimedia services.
The Ting project was initiated by the libraries of Copenhagen and Aarhus, in 2008. "Ting is neither a project nor a product", says Rolf Hapel, working for the municipality of Aarhus and responsible for the libraries, in an interview published on Youtube. "It is a fusion of technology and new forms of cooperation that contains new perspectives for the entire public sector."
Central to Ting, explains Hapel, is that the software is open source. This has freed up great resources in the library sector. "Ting will form the basis for the Danish Digital Library."
According to Niels Schmidt Petersen, Ting's community manager and a project manager at Aarhus, collaborating on this open source system has several advantages. Libraries for starters no longer need to develop and manage their own website system. They keep their own site, but they share the content management system.
Ting also makes the library services independent from IT vendors. "Digital content and resources were in the past accessible through systems of IT vendors, which created dependencies and caused difficulties in integrating the services with websites. Those were also often not very easy to use."
"The Ting community is inspired by the Drupal and Ubuntu communities", says Schmidt Petersen. He and others are working on a book, aiming to take Ting to other libraries in the country and abroad.