MarcEdit to offer Direct Koha ILS Integration


MarcEdit, a free MARC editor/manipulator is going to offer Koha integration in its next release!

At this point, the program is primarily supporting search and update/creation of records. Essentially, users will select their ILS system from the list of supported ILS’s (at this point, just Koha) and MarcEdit will add a new option to the MarcEditor window. I’ve been working hard over Thanksgiving so that a first version of this function can be made available in the next update.

I’m pretty excited about this and can’t wait to play with it! Learn more from Terry Reese.

Updating Personal Information in Koha 3.6


The next in the series of videos for our patrons. This will walk patrons through updating their personal information in the Koha OPAC. Remember that you have to actually allow patrons to do this for this video to be of any use.

As always, if you have an idea for a video, please just let me know and I’ll add it to my list of things to record.

Open Source Scare Tactics

Open Source Logo

I posted this originally over on my work site, but thought it bared repeating to a bigger audience.

I recently heard something a bit disturbing from a library friend and thought I should use this as a teaching opportunity. This library friend was doing research on ILSes and was told by a proprietary company’s sales person that with an open source system, such as Koha, if they don’t contribute to the community, the support vendors will charge you an annual “development fee” as a penalty. While I’m of course a strong proponent of participating in open source and so are my colleagues at ByWater Solutions we have no such fee in our contracts and I don’t know of any other Koha vendor who would either.

We have many partners at ByWater who have been using Koha happily for years without ever once having the need to contribute a development or the time to actively contribute in other ways (documentation, monthly meetings, etc). I hope that any other librarians hearing such things from friends, colleagues or sales people will take a moment to educate others both about what open source actually means for libraries and what choosing a support provider for that open source product entails. If we ever want people to truly understand what open source is and how it can be used in libraries we need to refute these types of scare tactics!

Contribute to Open Source


I’ve been saying for years that anyone can contribute to open source – you don’t have to be a programmer to have a valuable contribution. This post by Barbara Shaurette has a great list of ways you can contribute including one I had never thought of:

Members of the open source community are still trying to figure out exactly where best to start helping, but one place to begin is the organization Computer Science Teachers Association.

You can join the CSTA for free as an individual member. They’re not just looking for computer science faculty—they’re actively seeking “members from industry interested in supporting computer science education and teachers.”  I’d like to think that we all qualify. And I’m guessing it will be a great way to learn at a higher level what kinds of things public school CS programs do and what they need.

Learn more at

Free Intro to Koha 3.10 Webinars


It seems like just yesterday we were offering Koha 3.8 demos, but last week Koha 3.10 was released and so it’s time to start showing you what’s new! Join us for one of the following free Koha 3.10 demo webinars. We’ll cover what Koha can do for your library with a focus on the newest features in this great release:

What government can learn from open source


I wanted to share my notes with you all from this TED talk with Clay Shirky. You can watch the video – and I recommend that you do – but since I took notes I figured I’d share my textual summary as well!

Clay talked about NeverSeconds a blog where a student reviewed her lunches. She was then told she couldn’t take pictures in the lunchroom anymore. That of course didn’t fly. And the school took back what they said the same exact day.

What made them think they could get away with something like that, Clay says: “all of human history prior to now”

The more ideas there are in circulation the more ideas there are for any individual to disagree with – more media always means more argument.

Clay points out that he studies social media, which is to say he watches people argue, and if he had to pick a group that he thinks is our generation’s collection of people using these tools (social media) to have not more arguments but better arguments he’d pick the open source programmers. Programming is a three way relationship between the programmer, the language and the computer it’s supposed to run on. This process is extremely difficult – especially if one person is working alone – add in a group of programmers and it becomes even harder. You have people overwriting each others work and breaking things. Open source developers use version control systems to proven this kind of error. Version control systems, in the beginning, limited who has access to what and who could make final changes. This works fine in the proprietary world, but in open source everyone should have access to all the code all the time, but this creates the threat of chaos mentioned above (things being overwritten and broken).

After years of letting people email him changes to Linux, Linus Torvalds figured out a version control system that would work the way open source development communities should work … he called it ‘git.’ Git is distributed version control, it lives up to the promise of open source, everyone has access to all of the source code all of the time. Git also tracks every time a programmer makes an change at all.

Once git allowed for cooperation without coordination. Because of the signature (unique key) that git puts on every change (commit) a developer in one country can take code from one in another and merge them together without even knowing about each other.

Clay tells us this because of what it means for the way that communities come together. Once git allowed for cooperation without coordination you started to see communities form that were large and complex.

Clay went through a lot of government/legal projects on Github including Open legislation and others. Another thing he pointed out was the ‘diff.’ The diff is a document that shows the changes made to the files/documents. No democracy anywhere in the world offers this type of thing to its citizens for either budget or legislation.

The people with legislative power are not experimenting with participation. THey are experimenting with openness through transparency, but transparency is openness in only one direction.

Going back to NeverSeconds. The thing that got the ideas out to the public was technology, but the thing that kept her site up and running (uncensored) was political will. The expectations of the citizens that she would not be censored. We have the technology now, can we use them, can we apply them to government/legislation. We need to acquire a new style of arguing. The question now is are we going to let the programmers keep it to themselves or are we going bring it in to the democratic process?