A friend, and customer at LibLime, brought my attention to a post that seeks to bash my character. I have been advised by some to stay quiet and by others to respond immediately. I have decided to respond purely by setting the facts straight.
Nicole Engard recently prevented the Special Libraries Association (SLA) Illinois Chapter from receiving sponsorship funds when she threatened to withdraw from a speaking engagement unless the Chapter removed the event’s only sponsor. Just days before the Chapter’s monthly Webinar presentation, Ms. Engard contacted the leadership of the Chapter and left them with no choice but to censor out the only sponsor.
A few months ago I was asked by the Koha services.to speak on open source for them, as a SLA member and a contract library trainer I agreed. A few days before the talk was to take place I saw a reminder email for the event that mentioned the sponsor. I contacted the sponsors and notified them of a potential conflict of interest. I mentioned that while I was giving this talk as an independent contractor I would not be able to keep my talk company agnostic if a company was speaking before me. If the talk would no longer be given in the independent contractor role then I would waive my fees as my company ByWater Solutions would be paying me to talk about our
When Dianna Wiggins, president of the SLA-IL chapter read the post by LibLime, she submitted the following comment (which hasn’t been approved yet):
These are fairly strong words that are not necessarily an accurate representation of what occurred. Ms. Engard never said that she would not speak to our chapter, she merely indicated that there was a conflict of interest in her mind, and since we had made the arrangements and had not been aware of the situation, and in the interest of time, we chose to eliminate the conflict. As you know, we have also offered you the opportunity to partner with our chapter in the future, so I hope that you will once again accept our apologies for the confusion and continue to stay in touch.
SLA Illinois Chapter President
As Dianna states, I never threatened to withdraw, I merely mentioned the possible conflict.
Ms. Engard is an employee of ByWater, a for-profit company that provides services around Koha. ByWater is in direct competition with the sponsoring company that Ms. Engard sought to silence.
I do work for ByWater Solutions, but as stated earlier I was working as an independent contractor in this role originally.
This behavior represents a pattern. This behavior is eerily reminiscent of Spring 2009, when Ms. Engard teamed up with Josh Ferraro to force out competing vendors from speaking engagements and sponsorship opportunities at KohaCon 2009.
Ms. Engard was an employee of LibLime in 2009, preventing PTFS from sponsoring the KohaCon conference. In 2010, Ms. Engard is an employee of ByWater preventing Liblime/PTFS from sponsoring the Illinois Webinar.
This is kind of funny actually, as anyone who knows me knows that I didn’t side with my previous employer much at all during that last six months of employment (in fact, it was the month after that conference that I started talks with my current employer because of the behavior of my previous company). That said I had no say in the matters discussed above – what maybe is being referred to here was me passing on comments from my then employer to the committee, in an attempt to keep the pay check coming for a few more months. I did however say that PTFS should sponsor a conference lunch when asked by a librarian at the conference if it was okay for them to do so (although I doubt my opinion solely is why that sponsorship was approved).
Do Ms. Engard’s actions align with the material in her presentation – “Open Source in Libraries: Freedom and Community“?
My actions align with everything I’ve been saying for the last few months. Open source is about community and I have yet to see community members in PTFS, only a scared group of individuals hoping to silence one of the louder voices in the community by using un-cited statements to distort the truth.
[update] A trusted colleague and friend told me that many of my readers may not know a lot about Koha and may be confused by the above. For more info on Koha visit the official site. For more info on my writing about Koha you can browse my Koha category here on this site. And of course you’re always welcome to comment here or contact me via email, Twitter, Facebook, wherever. [/update]