« Back to User Experience

Open Source Office Automation

Palm Beach County Library System

Problem Statement

The cost for Microsoft Office Professional is nearly $400.00, which puts this product out of reach for many. Library patrons need access to office automation software in an open source format to allow documents to be edited on computers outside of the library, such as at home, where MS Office is not available.


Library Information Technology staff researched and deployed OpenOffice, an open source product, on all of the public workstations in the newly renovated Glades Road and Gardens Branches. The application is protected by using static images delivered via an image server. This allows patrons to have full access to the application while disallowing any changes to the master installation image.


Patron and staff feedback has been very positive. Patrons can download and install OpenOffice on their home computer at no cost, which enables them to continue working on their projects. Documents created with OpenOffice are fully compatible with Microsoft Office. There are plans to deploy OpenOffice to all of the other branches in the system.