A few years ago, and I’m sure that everyone would know of Rachel, however over time as new people join the community it’s important to refresh the collective memory. Without Rachel Koha wouldn’t exist, it’s as simple as that. Not many people would be game to agree to have their company write a library system in 3.5 months, even less would be able to make it happen. Rachel did both those things. She managed the project, provided lots of testing, did all the design including UI and UX, as well as making sure all the other clients of Katipo continued to be looked after.
Even though Rachel isn’t very active in the community anymore, Katipo still provide the hosting of the main mailing list, and Rachel helps to look after maintenance of the list. After 15 years (we started in August 1999) I am sure neither Rachel or I thought Koha would be as popular as it is now, and without Rachel it most definitely would not have been.
Inspired by something I read this morning, I thought I would make a mention of the Koha developers who are employed by a library. Off the top of my head (and if I have missed some please let me know in comments) I can think of.
Owen, Marcel, Dobrica, Mirko, Tomas, Mathieu, and the Koha Lyon team. All of these developers have committed numerous patches to Koha, and not just bug fixes but a lot of new features too. I think this is quite remarkable and a good example of doing it right, take some of the money you save in licensing fees and take control of your own future.
Oh, I have just remembered Steve Tonnesen who wrote the first web based circulation, and was an employee of the Coastal Mountain School district. Also as Paul pointed out in the comments I forgot Arnaud, Hélène and Bruno from SAN-Ouest Provence.
Darla has been using Koha from 2006, for the Bering Strait School District in Alaska. This is pretty neat in itself, what is cooler is that as far as I know, they have never had a ‘Support Contract’. Doing things either by themselves or with the help of IT personnel as needed. One of Darla’s first blogposts that I read was about her struggles trying to install Debian on an Emac. I totally respect anyone who is trying to reclaim hardware from the darkside 🙂
Darla has presented on Koha at conferences, and maintains a blog that has useful information, including sections of what she would do differently. As well as some nice feel good bits like this, from April 2007
I know I had an entry titled this before, but I do love OSS programs. Yesterday I mentioned that I would look at Pines because I like the tool it has to merge MARC records. Today a Koha developer emailed me to let me know that he is working on this for Koha and it should be available soon. I can’t imagine getting that kind of service from a vendor.
Hopefully she will be able to make it Kohacon13 in Reno, NV. It would be great to put a face to the email address 🙂
The Butte-Silver Bow Public library is special for a few reasons. They have sent people to attend Kohacon09, Kohacon10, and now not only attending Kohacon12 but co-hosting even though the event is in Edinburgh!. The presentation they gave at Kohacon10, with librarians saying what they enjoyed about Koha, was definitely one of the highlights of the conference, and I am sure Lee’s presentation will be great again this year.
Yet another reason they are heroes, is that when things started going wrong with a former Koha support company they decided to stick with Koha and go it alone. Something Koha allows you to do, but still a big decision.
So Lee and the team, hats off to you all!
Owen is not so much an unsung hero, but definitely one that could be sung about more. With a massive 1701 commits to Koha, the first one being in March of 2003, Owen is one of the oldest and most prolific developers.
Owen specialises in UI and UX work and writes a blog that is invaluable to anyone working on Koha look and feel. What makes it even cooler is that Owen works for a library, not one of the many Koha support companies. That not only makes Owen cool, but it makes his library super cool for understanding the more you put into Koha, the more you get out.
So thank you Owen, thank you to your family, and to Athens County Public Libraries.
Most people will never have heard of him, but Frère Sébastien Marie has been helping out with security in Koha. He has spotted AND fixed a number of security issues and can always be relied upon to offer good advice.
I think it’s another example of how lucky we are in the Koha community to have people with a very diverse range of backgrounds, from people in Monasteries fixing security issues to Scouts installing Koha for a merit badge. The community is a great place to be.
The go it aloners
For every Library that contracts with a support company to get Koha installed and migrated, I estimate there are 4 who go it alone. It still amazes me how many Koha installs there are around the world.
On the mailing list we usually only hear from those having issues, its not until you do trawl around the net a bit that you discover how many Koha users there are. One of my current favourites are the public libraries of the Philippines. The National Library there is rolling out Koha to every public library in the philipines. That is a lot of libraries, all done with inhouse support/expertise.
So well done to all those users who do it themselves, pop on the mailing list or irc sometime and say hi.