KohaCon10: Kete & Koha

Walter McGinnis gave us a talk based on a paper that he wrote with Joann Ransom on integrating Kete with Koha. I have to admit, I talk a lot about Koha here, but I am a huge fan of Kete as well – and now the two tools can be integrated into each other!!

Walter started by giving us a background of who he is. He does not have a computer sciences degree, instead he’s coming at this from the arts world. Next, what is Kete? It is at its most basic level, “an ongoing communal brain dump.” At its core, Kete has the philosophy that putting something online is only the beginning of it’s lifecycle.

So how does Koha integrate with Kete? There are three ways this can happen.

Basically what you’re seeing are search results you’d find in Koha but integrated into your related Kete pages. For the other way around (Kete into Koha) you can see the Kete results on your Koha search results page.

This feature will make it into Koha 3.4, but if you want it now you can backport it into Koha 3.2 by grabbing the code from the Catalyst public git repository.

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KohaCon10: Why I Love Koha

Lee Phillips from the Butte-Silver Bow Public Library was up next to tell us all why she loves Koha. However, instead of talking to us alone, she enlisted the help of her colleagues by sharing their Koha opinions with us in a video she recorded before leaving home for NZ.

First up was Steph who says ‘the nicest thing for us is the adaptability.’ She also gave me a shout out for answering her question in 11 seconds – I have to admit I don’t remember doing it – but I’m so glad I could help her out by writing an inventory report!!

Another librarian brought up my favorite part of Koha – the reports! She loved that she could export them to Excel and create any report under the sun. I love the power afforded by the reporting module (something no other system I’ve ever used offered).

Next up, the children’s librarian loved the fact that you can see the availability of items right from the search results screen. So when kids run to the shelf and don’t see the book they want, she can quickly look it up and show them how to place a hold on the books that are checked out.

One of the tech services librarians said, ‘It took 6 years to start using Spectrum. 46 hours for Koha.’ You gotta love that!! (and Lee obviously did cause she took this moment to jump up and down in the front of the room :) ) Another librarian shared her point of view and talked about a migration she had gone through 10 years earlier calling it a ‘nightmare.’

My favorite librarian quote from the video was: “The other thing I love about Koha is the open source principles. Libraries are about sharing information – free and open access to information. Most of our proprietary systems are not open and do not share information!”

I hope that the video makes it on to some online venue so I can share it with you all – when it does I’ll put that link here.

[update]Lee has let me put the video up on the ByWater Solutions chanel on Blip.tv[/update]

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KohaCon10: Keynote

First up this morning was Rosalie Blake, the librarian who made it possible for us all to be here in New Zealand celebrating 10 years of Koha!

Rosalie talked to us about how Horowhenua became the “little library that could.” The library bought their first computers in 1988. In 1997 the Horowhenua Library Trust was formed to make decisions about the library funding. They made it clear that while computers were important, they were not the most important thing in the library, more important was making the library a community center with books around the walls. Come 1999, the library was still on their first system and it was no longer as impressive as it once was and Y2K was looming.

While the library was pretty sure their system would survive Y2K, the company would not guarantee that their old system would live through the turn of the millennium. The library was able to convince the trust that they needed the funds to change systems. They started traditionally with ‘Plan A’ which meant sending out an RFP. There was no off the shelf product though that met their objectives. The instead went to ‘Plan B.’

Plan B was a meeting with the developers at Katipo to decide how they wanted the software to work. The librarians sat with developers and tried to explain their needs to developers who knew nothing of how libraries were run. They tested and re-wrote and tested again. All this time, they were thinking of a proper name for their new software. For those who have been in the depths of Koha you may have wondered what all those C4 references were – well, that was the first name for Koha (Cheap and Cheerful Copy of C… {the name of the old system}). In the end the name C4 was dropped and Koha was born – a gift with expectations of reciprocity – this year it was Rosalie’s gift, next year it might be someone else’s turn to give a gift.

So now what? Should they sell the product they had just produced? Neither HLT or Katipo was in the marketing business, plus Katipo was small and that means if they were to go away HLT would be left without support. Katipo recommended they release the software as open source. The promise of a worldwide community for support and development was one of the many reasons that HLT agreed to this route. For Rosalie, the first time someone on the mailing list (who didn’t work for Katipo) answered a technical question, it was a real treat.

Rosalie said of Koha: “E iti noa ana na te aroha” – A small gift given in love.

This is not the end though – with the success of Koha, Horowhenua decided to do it all over again – and scratch their “historical” itch by creating Kete.

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KohaCon10: What is a Koha?

My first post in New Zealand will cover a huge pet peeve of mine and something very important to be aware of before KohaCon starts. Reading my writing on various sites and mailing lists you have probably figured out that a pet peeve of mine is when people refer to Koha as KOHA. Koha is not an acronym, the letters don’t stand for anything fancy, it actually has it roots in New Zealand where Koha was first born. A Koha in New Zealand is special kind of gift. Koha is a Maori word that stands for a gift that comes with expectations. Wikipedia says that a Koha is better defined as a donation in English, but I personally like the ‘gift with exceptions expectations’ definition because it falls in line with the GPL which says you’re welcome to use the software for any purpose, you can even modify the software but the assumption is that you will then share your improvements back with the world.

Rachel Hamilton-Williams gives us even more info in a post to the Koha mailing list:

Starting at the beginning: The word Koha is a Maori word meaning gift or donation – or perhaps more “giving your specialty to the collective event”. Possibly even a sense of quid pro quo. In traditional Maori society (and still) you would bring a koha (Contribution) to an event like a funeral or wedding or big meeting, often food or the specialty of your region. When it’s your turn to hold an event all your guests will bring a Koha, to ease the burden of catering for a lot of people.

Next time you’re send me or anyone in the Koha community an email, or before you start posting about sessions at KohaCon, just remember that Koha is a gift and not an acronym :)

[update] Fixed typo. [/update]

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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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