One of the things I love about Koha is the huge community and worldwide adoption. Olugbenga Adara from Nigeria was our next speaker, unfortunately he was unable to join us in person, but through the magic of technology he was able to join us via Skype.
In Nigeria there are 13 known Koha installations – he said known because you can never know for sure how many people are using open source products because so many do not report their usage. Another interesting statistic is that fewer than 20% of libraries in Nigeria are using an ILS in their library! There is lack of adequate funding so Koha becomes a great alternative because of the lack of licensing fees. Other than price challenges include:
- Poor infrastructure – electricity power problems (no power for days sometimes)
- Internet Access – Most OPACs are offline because Internet Access is unreliable
- Manpower Issues – Computer literacy among professional librarians is still low
- Lack of commitment by heads of libraries
- Rivalry between organizational IT departments and contractors
One way to resolve the power issue is to use Kyle Hall’s offline circulation tool. They are also generating card catalogs by exporting Koha data and bringing it into applications on their desktops. They hope that with an upgrade to 3.2 they might find a better way to handle this issue. Finally they hold workshops to educate their librarians.
Other steps include encouraging users to create local users groups so that they can lean on each other for support (this was launched in June 2010). Their promotion efforts has made it so that at least the name Koha is now recognized in Nigeria.
The next steps needed to make Koha more widely used in Nigeria include translating Koha into the major Nigerian languages (I think he said there were 6 of them). And of course they are encouraging librarians to participate in the community so that their ideas for developments make it into the official project.
Olugbenga ended by saying that KohaCon will take place in Nigeria before another 10 years pass.
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