Working On the Library

rough front page of e-Pustakalaya

I have put a lot of work these two weeks into building a prototype library for Nepal’s pilot of OLPC. It is my understanding from an e-mail conversation with S.J. that OLPC hasn’t decided on a system for the library. For the time being I am much more concerned about the back-end of the library than the user interface. I don’t think that it will be incredibly hard to design a simple user interface for kids to search a repository. The harder part is to find a powerful back-end that will be able to accommodate our needs as they grow over time.

After some cursory research, there appear to be three leading open-source repository systems


Dspace — used in OpenCourseWare, and

fedora — not to be confused with Fedora Linux

Being the incredibly lazy person that I am, I did not go to the trouble of installing and testing each one of these repositories. Instead I spent half a day reading reviews, blog posts, and news group discussions comparing various repository packages. After reading this evaluation of the leading three repository systems and watching this video, I decided to try out fedora.

After many painful hours I got fedora set up. Actually, it is quite easy to set up fedora, which is a pure web service. I found installing the most popular UI Fez rather difficult to get set up. I see this decoupling of service and UI as a strong positive in fedora’s favor. We need a very simple kid-friendly UI for kids, a more advanced one for teachers, and a very advanced one for the people who will load materials into the library.

I would love to hear from someone who actually knows about repository systems and can explain to me the benefits of one system over another. I will be in the US for 5 weeks starting Dec 16th and one of my goals will be to really understand online libraries so I can build an awesome one for Nepal.

I have put a rough install guide on how to set up fedora with the Fez UI on Ubuntu. There are already install guides for fedora and Fez but I encountered several problems during the install.�

So, I would love to hear from people who actually know about these kinds of systems.

By the way, e-Pustakalaya means “e-Library” in Nepali. The title in the upper-left of the screenshot reads the same in Devnagari script.

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