Help an artist out

As most of you will know I have been working on Koha since 1999. Most of you will also know that without others at the beginning like Rachel, Simon, Olwen, Rosalie and Jo Koha would simply not exist. What people people might not be aware of though is that the one person who has been with me throughout the whole 18 years, that Koha has been worked on, is my wife Laurel.
She wasn’t my wife when I started in fact we had only recently met. But the stories of my Koha journey are intertwined with my relationship with Laurel. Without her constant support I would have given up a long time ago. A few years ago I wrote an unsung heroes of Koha post about Laurel.
Without her support I would never have been to travel the places I have, do the work on Koha I do in the weekends and evenings and so much more.
All of this is a long lead in to say that now Laurel needs your help (only if you are in a position where you can of course). Laurel is an art educator and an artist. Neither of which, unless you are incredibly fortunate, are careers that provide much in the way of financial rewards.
Laurel has battled a lot of health problems throughout her life and her art is one way she deals with it. She is currently working on 2 shows to exhibit
And is currently fundraising to cover a small part of the costs. We’d love to be able to cover the costs ourselves but unfortunately we can’t. So if you want to help Laurel out (and be part of making some fantastic art) which indirectly helps me out, which indirectly helps Koha out, please do. And if you don’t we’re still friends 🙂

Boosted fundraising site

He kaituhi hōtaka rorohiko ahau

Warning: This is a messy bunch of jumbled up thoughts, with no real conclusion.

How did I end up here? This is something I often ask myself. How did a person born in Kawakawa, from Te Wai Pounamu, end up in the server room of the Library of Bowen University in Iwo, Nigeria?


When I was young I wanted to be a chef, then I realised how hard they have to work, and noped right out of that idea. I was super privileged that both my parents were teachers, and that my dad has always had a strong interest in computers. We always had computers in the house, since I was about 12, so computer science was what I ended up studying.

In a theme that has continued through a large part of my life, I couldn’t do a double major in Computer Science and Māori Studies in a BSc. So I ended up doing a BSc and a BA. Once I finished my BSc, and while I was finishing my BA I worked part time at Te Pūtahi a Toi at Massey University. For those 2.5 years I was able to really feel like I was a Māori programmer, not a programmer who happens to be Māori.

Since 1997 I have worked for 3 different companies, 2 of them were fantastic, Katipo Communications, and Catalyst IT (where I still work now). The third one, not so much, but that is a whole other story. While Katipo and Catalyst were and are great places to work, the reality of working in IT in Wellington is, it is quite likely you are going to be the only Māori in the room most times. What may be a little different for me is that I don’t look like what most people think Māori look like. (Us Kāi Tahu had contact with Europeans relatively early on, lots of whalers down that way. If I had a dollar for every time I was asked “but how much Māori are you?” or “Why did you learn Māori?” I’d have retired about 10 years ago.) This means I get to overhear lots of really offensive opinions and the worst part is when people assume I will agree.  I’m not going to delve into the role privilege plays in IT, apart to say, I think a lot more people could think on Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, engari he toa takitini kē. (My strength is not the strength of one, it is the strength of many. We are the product of our ancestors and our environments, no one stands alone, no one did it themselves).

So, at least in my experience, the easiest way to be Māori in IT is to be as Pākehā as you can. That’s certainly the path of least resistance and will make your daily life easier. Except of course, unless you are working for a Māori organisation. I also acknowledge that for most of my career I have been working with Libraries, this has brought me into contact with many awesome people through groups like Te Rōpū Whakahau. So I have had a much easier journey than others.

Things are changing though, people are now taking Te Reo classes at my work, I have a great support group of people like my whānau, Kris, Amber and many others here in Wellington. IT has also given me the chance to meet people from all over the world. To visit places like Nigeria, Argentina, Greece, Scotland, Canada, USA, Fiji .. and so many more. It is, in the scheme of things, a pretty damn good career choice. It is something I encourage many more Māori to get involved in, as it is an expanding and massively varied field of work. From User Experience to Design, to Business Analysis, to Operations, to Sales, to Project management, and on and on. There is so much more to it than just us coders. I think in summary I’d say to Māori.
IT is like rugby, there is a position for every type of player. However it is quite likely some cracker is going to say something like we need a sensible Pākehā in the centres.

Kohacon16 Day 3 – Working towards a Koha Greek Users’ Group

Sofia Zapounidou followed Georgia’s talk, Georgia had made a fantastic case for the need for people to collaborate. So Sofia followed it up with the how this might happen.

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They looked at the other local user groups around the world and what they did. Then they tried to find out what other libraries in Greece are using Koha, there are much more than people know about. They did a survey of these libraries to find out what people wanted to do

  • Website/Wiki
  • Mailing list
  • Translation of Koha
  • Training
  • Desired features
  • Coding initiatives

Greece is ready for a Koha users group


Kohacon16 Day 3 – 10 years of Koha in Greece: from solitude to solidarity?

Georgia Katsarou then spoke about the history of Koha usage in Greece. She started by introducing where she works, a library in a school called College Year in Athens.

They started with a card catalogue, and then moved to Access (the students like the card catalogue much better). In 2006 they moved to Koha.

Greek Timeline
  • 2006-2007 Quiet
  • 2008 A few libraries started asking about Koha
  • 2009 More libraries, HEAL-links ebooks.
  • December 2009 First presentation at a Greek Conference
  • 2010-2015 Interest of every kind of library
  • 2016 Kohacon in Thessaloniki

Georgia felt that she need to give back, her boss said ok. So she started by translating and ran a blog called KohaGR.

What we must do
  • Communicate
  • Spread the news
  • Have a virtual space
  • Ask/Answer/Discuss
  • Meet with each other
  • Have an annual meeting
  • Volunteer
  • Public and private work together
  • Companies must not be afraid to contribute
  • Help those who are in need (libraries with no IT, unimarc users)
  • Work together on projects
  • Ask for help and ideas from other local communities
What not to do
  • Exchange questions, ideas and solutions privately!!!
  • Set up our installation and forget about it
  • Take for granted other people’s contribution

Georgia presented so well and so passionately, that I feel really invigorated and ready to go on the hackfest.

Kohacon16 Day3 – A new open source library platform: building and integrating microservices

Ron Burns from EBSCO was up next to talk about what EBSCO is doing with their Open Source library platform.

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Ron started off with a few facts about EBSCO

  • EBSCO is not an ILS vendor
  • 60+ ILS partnerships
  • Support Koha and were a board member of OLE

Then he talked about the current proprietary Library Service Platforms, and likened them to an old set of anitque drawers. And also touched on how they are monoliths and with the bundling of discovery .. leads to lock in. When you factor in the consolidation, there is a real lack of choice for libraries.

The new FOSS LSP should be modular and modern. Ron reminded us that open source drives innovation, so of course they should build with open source.

Folio (the new LSP) is built with a focus on

  • Open Source
  • Community
  • Modern
  • Modular
  • Support

They decided to choose the Apache 2 License and copyright transfer to the Open Library Foundation. The community at this point is Kuali OLE, some libraries, Index Data, industry partners, EBSCO.

The architecture will look someting like

  • System Layer
  • API layer
  • Apps
  • UI Toolkit

He did a really good job of a high level view of what it might look like. If you look up the presentation online you will get a much better idea than I can impart.

Where does Koha fit? The Koha community can decide that.

  • Development now
  • Mid 2016 code on github
  • 2017 first base platform release, and apps released
  • 2018 marketplace

Kohacon16 Day 3 – Managing digital and physical collections: interfacing Coral and Koha

Paul Poulain was up next to talk about Koha and Coral and why/how we should link them.

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To handle electronic subscriptions in Koha we have 2 options, we can either add a module to Koha. Or we can find an existing FOSS project and integrate it. Coral is an existing FOSS one, so integrating is a good choice.

There are 4 modules in Coral

  • Vendors, aggregators etc
  • Define licenses
  • Enter licenses
  • Import/export licenses
Usage statistics

This is where you define your resources, linking them to organisations and licenses

Because Koha and Coral are both web resources there are a few ways we can link them together. They are aiming for middle of 2017 for it to be ready.

Kohacon16 Day 3 – Largest Koha Installation, Experiences of 1126 Public Libraries of Turkey

Mengü Yazıcıoğlu spoke next about what we are pretty sure is the biggest Koha installation, a cluster serving 1132 Public libraries. (They are growing so fast it has moved from 1126 to 1132 libraries in the last 2 weeks)

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They have been live on Koha for 2 years it is run as a project from the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

In 2012 MCH signed with Near East University in Cyprus to migrate to Koha 2.2.x. With 900,000 users and 9,000,000 items for the migration. Lots of problems with dirty data, centralising a decentralised model meant lots of duplicates. They also had problems with infrastructure and lack of training. But they worked through this and had a system that worked well.

They made quite a few customisations and scripts to deduplicate biblios, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage estimates they saved 5,000,000 Euros on not having to have people do the deduplication alone.

In December 2015 they upgraded to Koha 3.20.x.

You can return your item anywhere in Turkey, so they make heavy use of the Koha transfers module, which tracks where any item is.

The infrastructure to run this, is a lot less than most people would think I am sure. Here is their infrastructure

2016-06-01 12.25.09

This was a fascinating and amazing presentation. Started in Levin, Foxton, Shannon and Tokomaru, now … 1132 cities and towns in Turkey .. mind blowing.