open source influencer shares open ideas for libraries and education

Community spotlight: Carolyn Fox, pushing for openness at school and in the library

five questions with an opensource contributor
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In our schools and our libraries, Carolyn Fox believes we can push for more openness. Just entertaining the idea of it would be a huge step in the right direction for many who aren't aware of the open source movement beyond software that is underfoot.

Through work with her son (who is gifted and has special needs) and working as a librarian, wivenhoe (as she is referred to here at has learned that by promoting open source tools and programs in our daily life—discussions with friends, family and coworkers—we help open up the world around us, bringing better solutions to societal problems. 

The basics

  • Name: Carolyn Fox
  • username: wivenhoe (a village in the UK)
  • Location: Massachusetts
  • Occupation/Employer/Position: me!
  • Open source connection: libraries and education
  • Favorite open source tool or application: mahara
  • Favorite channel: education

Community spotlight

Open up to us.

I am a librarian who lives on the North Shore in Massachusetts. I got involved with open source while I was working on my MLIS (library) degree at Long Island University four years ago. Since then, I have been researching open source in terms of education for my son, gifted children, the general population, and those with disabilities. I have been writing a book on digital technology and digital literacy and how it is creating a new world.

I am particularly taken with Universal Design for Learning and how open source can be a way to make learning individualized for each child. Many of my connections with open source projects are through my son's education. He has used some open tools, such as TuxPaint, at school this year. So I have also been learning about open source through him, which is interesting. More recently, my husband and I have been focused on homeschooling our twice exceptional son (he is gifted with special needs) and using open source to guide us.

What open tools and data help you get things done, and how do they help you?

I have some wikis to keep track of my son's reading, for instance. My son's school used and we've used it at home on occasion. My son has used some other open math games, which I have found and researched. We've watched educational videos. I've looked for educational content, such as textbooks, lesson plans, activities, or games, as well as open tools to organize materials for myself, son, and others. I've also used open tools to produce data.

What do you wish were more open?

I wish libraries were pushing "open" more. My concern is that libraries are getting pigeonholed as physical repositories for physical books rather than as information centers for proprietary and open source in multiple forms and formats. I also wish schools were more open. I believe that we are in the mindset of an educational revolution or on the cusp of one. I wish we weren't still stuck in a proprietary, Cold War-era mentality with so much tied to politics on multiple levels.

What are the biggest challenges to openness that you encounter, either at work or in your life?

People are unaware of openness. Many people do not seem to question proprietary systems or seek alternative options. They don't tend to question. They don't tend to think outside-the-box or divergently. This has huge implications for everyone. Blind adherence to authority, the copyright system, standards, the status quo, personal gain, and wealth can be unhealthy for society and civilizations in general.

Why choose the open source way?

Freedom and control!


About the author

Jen Wike Huger - Jen is the Content Manager for She manages the editorial calendar and coordinates with new and current writers. Follow her on Twitter @jenwike, and see her extended portfolio at