Pytheas' statements about his voyage flew in the face of the Greek philosophy and geographic theory of the time and after his death he became thoroughly discredited. Yet we know today that Pytheas was remarkably accurate in his estimations of the circumference of Britain and it is very likely that he made the longest voyage on record in the ancient world. One of the first scholars to give Pytheas credibility was Eratosthenes, who became the chief librarian at the great library at Alexandria in about 255 BC and is sometimes referred to as the "librarian who measured the earth" in recognition of his achievement of being the first human to correctly measure the circumference of the world19. Eratosthenes treated Pytheas’ On the Ocean as a serious work and utilized some of Pytheas’ observations in his own studies20.
Libraries have a natural synergy with the Open Source movement. Library collections, library staff, and even the physical structures themselves are usually widely available to a community of users on a non-profit, publicly funded basis21. Like Eratosthenes, we have the opportunity to boldly recognize and support a movement that is turning a lot of conventional wisdom about how systems should be built on its head. The start of the journey can be as simple as evaluating the use of Open Source solutions in your library. Who knows? It could change your perception of the world.
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