Who has two thumbs and a perspective on LIANZA 15?

I thought I may as well jot down my thoughts about this years LIANZA conference, as everyone else was. Peer pressure, I succumb to it. But I figure as a ‘vendor’ (not your typical vendor, but one nonetheless *) my perspective might be a little bit different.

First off, the exhibition hall was great, it was spacious, things were laid out well, the food and drink were good.

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But it was slow, perhaps the slowest LIANZA I can remember, thankfully it was slow for everyone not just our stand. I think this was due to the fact the conference was totally packed with things to do, there was barely a spare minute in it. Plus, if I was you, and the sun came out, I’d go out on the waterfront too.  Having said that, it was still most definitely worth being there, the people who wanted to come talk to us, found us and did. We also caught up with a lot of our existing clients, and made a few leads for new ones. You kinda just have to be there, so that when you respond to an RFP people have heard of you.

From what I could tell from the tweet stream and from Liz reported back, the majority of the sessions were fantastic. They keynotes all seemed to hit it out of the park, (Gotta admit, I did like that one of the Keynotes was from one of the earliest public libraries to use Koha in the USA, and Koha got a shout out in another one).  There were a few recurring themes, one of them was a push towards one ‘library’ for all NZ. Which I think is a great idea, as long as it is flexible enough to accommodate the vast differences in the sector, and it is run on non-proprietary software of course.

The conference dinner was fun again, I think we might have been one of the few to go for 70s glam, vs 1920s glam as our costumes. I am still finding glitter.

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The photo booth was a great idea too.

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And the hallway track and pub track were also awesome, I made a lot of new friends and reaffirmed some bonds with others. All in all, a great conference.


* We give away a library management system, no license fees for the win.

Kohacon15 – Nigeria – Round up (You should have been here)

As is the trend for all Kohacon, this was the best Kohacon yet. Not only was the venue great, but so were the people and the presentations.


It flew by so fast (that’s how you know it was interesting)  and we covered so many topics. From Automation uptake in Nigeria, to sysadmin tips, to RFID, to digital resources and so much more.


One of the major takeaways for me was the passion  and the willingness to discuss and share ideas. There certainly are challenges here, with unreliable power, not great internet, and of course as it is libraries, funding. But what there isn’t here is any sense of fatality, people are working hard to make things better, and to serve their users to the best of their ability.


Apart from the conference proper, for the cultural day we went to ‘The Sacred Grove in Osogbo, Osun” which is a world heritage site, and for good reason.


We probably didn’t get as much done at the hackfest as we could have, but the internet made that a little hard. We did though explore some monitoring tools that can help deal with the symptoms of the unreliable power. I hope that it was some use to the participants.

In conclusion, I would like to say it was an honour for me to be here, I hope that I provided some useful information for others, I certainly learnt from them. A big e se to Projectlink Konsult, and to my work Catalyst for making it possible for me to come. And e se to all the other participants who made the conference what it was.

You should have been here.


Kohacon15 – Day 3 roundup

Day 3 was another packed day, we started with the presentation of a paper that studied the uptake of Automation systems in Nigeria. For a lot of the libraries using Koha here, Koha is their first automation system, and the majority of libraries here are still using manual processes.

Following that we had a presentation by Safari Books, on the springer journals and ebooks, including how they can easily be added to Koha

RFID and Koha was next, covering how using the 2 together is very easy, or very hard, but it depends entirely on who your RFID vendor is. Because basically it’s entirely up to them to comply with the standards that Koha already complies with. The presenter made some remark about rugby also …

There was a brief discussion on a Koha Africa user group, which resulted in an unanimous decision that yes that should totally be set up, and the next step is finding a person to take on the coordination role.

For the afternoon we travelled to Bowen University, about an hour away in Iwo. Bowen was the first library in Nigeria to install Koha in 2007. We were welcomed by both the University Librarian and the University Vice Chancellor. Which was a great honour. I always love to see people using Koha, and how they are using it, so this was a real highlight for me.

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Kohacon15 day 2 round up

First up on day 2 was ‘A sysadmin look at Koha’. This talk covered common issues when setting up and maintaining Koha. As well as some issues that are harder to deal with, including lightning strikes frying motherboards, and unreliable power. It was a great talk with at lot of good information.

Next up was Brooke with a great talk titled “Can’t code? How you can still make Koha better”

Then there was a presentation of  a paper titled “User perceptions of the Koha ILS – Nigeria” it was really excellent, I will again link it when I have it. Here were the conclusions.

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After that was “Now you have Koha – What is next?

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Again, a great talk, I’m gonna keep saying that, because they all were.

Then we toured the campus for the afternoon.

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Kohacon15 – Day 1 – Bowen University Koha Experience

Next some librarians from Bowen University reported on their Koha experience, they have been Koha users since 2007. Bowen university has used Koha versions 2.9.0, 3.0.1, 3.0.4, 3.12.3 and 3.18.0

The key findings are

  • Koha helped tremendously with the technical processes of the library core functions
  • Issues – duplication of barcodes, wrong mapping
  • Positive experience far outweighs the few challenges

They covered all the advantages of Open Source, I will link the presentation when it is up, so much was covered I can’t take notes fast enough (where is Nicole Engard when you need her?)

Bowen was started in 2001, as was the library, with the mandate to create first rate graduates. Therefore the library has to use first rate library software.

Reasons it was chosen

  • OSS
  • MARC compliance
  • Hardware agnostic
  • Web based

The paper is very comprehensive and covers how Koha is installed, and who is in charge of its maintenance. It also covers all the things they like about Koha, which was great to hear and always good to remember. We as developers spend so much time hearing about bugs, that it is great to hear of things that are working well.

I stopped taking notes to listen, as it was so full of information. I will update the post with the link to the paper when I have it.

Kohacon 15 – Day 1 – Welcome

The day started with a welcome from Adetunji Adepeju from Projectlink Konsult Limited, one of the organisers of the conference.

He made some great points using humour about the unjustified fear of kidnapping, and the other things that the western media report unfairly on.

He then talked about why do we have this Kohacon

  • Knowledge sharing
  • New developments in Koha
  • Networking/collaboration

He moved on to talk about Turkey and its usage of Koha, (which is really pretty impressive). It was a really inspirational talk, putting forward the case that we can do all this here in Africa too.

The talk covered how Nigeria got the conference this year, which is an interesting story in own rights (boo the Australia government refusing a transit visa). It also covered how it got organised, the troubles of finding sponsorship etc.

It then moved on to Free vs Freedom, and talking about funding. (Free software is not Free cost software)

He moved on to talking about learning, unlearning and relearning is the key to the success of libraries.

Takeaways from the conference

  • Learn new things
  • Network
  • Inter-library cooperation
  • Join Koha list
  • Bring the National library up to speed

How may Africa/Nigeria contribute to Koha

  • Development
  • Testing
  • Bugs and fixes
  • Offer to serve on projects
  • Translation
  • Help others solve issues