The term open has become a familiar part of library and education practice and discourse, with open source software being a common referent. However, the conditions surrounding the emergence of the open source movement are not well understood within librarianship. After identifying capitalism and neoliberalism as structures that shape library and open practice, this article contextualizes the term open by delineating the discursive struggle within the free software movement that led to the emergence of the open source movement. An understanding of the genealogy of open can lend clarity to many of the contradictions that have been grappled with in the literature, such as what open means, whether it supports social justice aims, and its relation to neoliberal and capitalist structures. The article concludes by inquiring into how librarianship and open can reframe practices that are typically oriented toward mitigation and survival to encompass an orientation toward life and flourishing.