I did a little infographic showing a brief summary of 2016 for the Koha project, hope it is useful/fun for someone.
I’ve told a few people this story, it is a very short one the whole thing happened in a few short minutes but it is still very vivid in my mind.
It was 1990, the 150th anniversary of the signing of Te Tiriti, and events around this were happening all over the motu. I was a seventh former (as we called it in the olden days, last year of high school) and myself and the other 7th formers in the Māori class were at a hui at Putiki marae.
We were introducing ourselves, and I was super nervous. As an aside I noticed this on Tuesday night too, I have no problem at standing on a stage in front of hundreds of people presenting. (I guess it’s the Pākehā man genes kicking in, we’ve been overconfidently talking at people forever). But put me in a setting like doing a mihi and karakia on the marae at Te Papa (Tuesday night) and I get all whakamā. So back to the story, I was nervously waiting my turn and when it came I bumbled my way through it. Then I said something like “as you can see I’m only part Māori”
Moana Jackson (who we were there to kōrero with) then said
There are no parts, you are Māori
Now if I was whakamā before, imagine how I felt now. I felt like I had been told off, but let’s face it to a 17 year old boy everything feels like being told off. Here is this man that my parents hold in super high regard and he’s telling me I said something wrong. I blushed and sat down.
But within minutes, I began to understand. One of the reasons my parents (and I) admire Moana Jackson is because his words come from a place of aroha. He was grounding me, letting me plant my feet, saying you have the right to be here. There are no degrees of Māori, you just are.
Seven words that have lived with me for 26 years now since that day. Seven words that have had a massive impact on how I view the world.
So even though it’s incredibly unlikely Moana will read this, just in case. Kia ora mō tēnā.
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 🙂
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.
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.
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
- Mailing list
- Translation of Koha
- Desired features
- Coding initiatives
Greece is ready for a Koha users group
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.
- 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
- Spread the news
- Have a virtual space
- Meet with each other
- Have an annual meeting
- 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.
Ron Burns from EBSCO was up next to talk about what EBSCO is doing with their Open Source library platform.
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
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
- 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