Two Preconferences at CIL2011

The program is out and I’ll be giving two pre-conference sessions at Computers in Libraries 2011 in Washington, D.C. Make sure you register early!!

  • W7 – Library Mashups: Exploring New Ways to Deliver Library Data
    Sunday, March 20, 2011 :: 9:00 AM – 12:00 PM
    Nicole C. Engard, Director of Open Source Education, ByWater Solutions
    Brian Herzog, Head of Reference, Chelmsford Public Library

    This workshop explains what mashups are, how they can be used, and shares examples from libraries around the world. In the first half of this workshop, attendees will learn about some of the tools they can use to mash up library data with content from the web to reach more patrons. Examples include using maps to enhance library data, using Flickr for digital collections, and creating library websites with data from several information sources. After learning the basics and seeing examples from other libraries around the world, attendees will have a chance to create a website pulling data from several sources on the web. After attending this talk, librarians will be able to define what a mashup is and identify mashups on library sites and the web; find tools and APIs to gather data for their own library sites; and pull data from other sites into a website

  • W15 – Practical Open Source Software for Libraries
    Sunday, March 20, 2011 :: 1:30 PM – 4:30 PM
    Nicole C. Engard, Director of Open Source Education, ByWater Solutions

    The commonly accepted definition of open source software is software that is distributed with human readable source code in order to allow the user freedom to run, review, alter, enhance, and modify the code for any purpose. But open source is about so much more than just the code behind the software, it’s about community, collaboration, and innovation. The library community is abuzz about open source software, but many librarians have no idea what open source software actually is or what it means to use the software and participate in the community around open source. This workshop provides the 101 for using open sources in libraries: What will open source mean to our libraries? Why would I choose source? How do I get started? Do I need more staff? Will the transition be hard? Are there open source applications for my library? Engard provides facts, dispels myths, emphasizes what open source means for libraries, and shares a toolbox of at least 50 freely available open source products to use in your library. Includes demos, discussions, and more.

Registration is available online at

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Heading to New Zealand for KohaCon10

For those who follow me on other sites know that I’m heading to New Zealand for KohaCon 2010. I mention this because my posts here will consist of conference summaries and then will probably become quite quiet while I travel around the country. Be sure to keep an eye out for pictures on my Flickr account and regular posting will resume when I return in November!

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A Response

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 Illinois chapter of the SLA 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 Koha services.

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):

Hello John,

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.

Kind Regards,
Dianna Wiggins
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]

My Android Apps

Most of my readers know that I’m a huge Android fan and love my Android! One of the threads I always reply to is ‘what are your favorite android apps?’ Well today I find out that AppBrain (one of my favorite apps) allows me to share my list of Android apps right here!

Tomorrow I plan to head to the store to upgrade my phone from the HTC Eris (which I have loved) to the Droid X (which is much more of a powerhouse). If I change this list of apps much, I’ll let you know! If you share your list, feel free to share the link in the comments here so others can see what you have installed. And if you think I’m missing something essential, let me know!





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Practical Open Source Software for Libraries

I am happy to announce that Practical Open Source Software for Libraries, my second book, has been published and is available for purchase in the US from Neal-Schuman Publishers and in the rest of the world from Chandos Publishing.

If you happen to write a review online please send me the link and I’ll add it to the official book site. I want to yet again thank Chris Cormack for his inspiration and all the time he took over the years to help teach and mentor me! Without him this book would have been written by someone else.