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.
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.
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.
After that was “Now you have Koha – What is next?
Again, a great talk, I’m gonna keep saying that, because they all were.
Then we toured the campus for the afternoon.
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
- 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.
Next up we had some clown talking about the history of Koha. He rambled but got to the point in the end. Maybe someone else will have better notes
(Oh just in case, the presenter was me, I don’t want to accidentally imply it was someone else, the rest of the presenters are awesome)
Presentation is here
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
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
- Inter-library cooperation
- Join Koha list
- Bring the National library up to speed
How may Africa/Nigeria contribute to Koha
- Bugs and fixes
- Offer to serve on projects
- Help others solve issues
Every time I come to the USA I always do some ridiculous thing to do with food/drink. Ive done the chocolate based cold beverage challenge. Where as we drove from Seattle to LA I tried all the chocolate drinks I could.
I’m on a continuing mission to find a cheesesteak as good as I had in Philadelphia.
There are a few more, in 2013 in Reno, it was just to be able to finish a meal in the casino. Never managed it.
This time around it is Autumn or Fall as they call it over here, so everything has fall flavours (basically everything tastes like pumpkin pie). So I’ve been trying to taste as much as I can.
I’ve been drinking coffees
And drinking beer
I even got given a pumpkin beer T-shirt
The Pittsburgh leg is nearly over, but I have a week in California to go. I’m sure they probably have “soy skinny low fat kale quinoa pumpkin chai latte” or something that I will have to try. FOR SCIENCE.