Batch Delete Withdrawn Items in Koha 3.4


One of the most common uses for the batch delete tool in Koha is to batch delete items you have previously marked as ‘withdrawn’ from the collection. This tutorial will walk you through deleting a batch of items that have been marked as withdrawn. The report mentioned in this video can be found on the Koha wiki here.

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 Culture in Business

Open Source Logo

Several years ago (seems like a lifetime ago to me) I left the library to work for a vendor, an open source vendor of course, but a vendor nonetheless. I used to joke that I had crossed over to the ‘dark side.’ Five years later I can’t imagine ever going to back to working in the library itself. It’s not that I don’t love libraries – of course I do! I want to keep working with libraries forever and ever – I just don’t want to work in them.

Until today I thought that was just because I had the best work environment ever. I work for a company that is open, supports openness and takes everyone’s opinions in to consideration … in short, we’re all treated like the experienced adults that we are. I thought this was unique to ByWater, but have just finished reading a post by Shay Chapman on about her experience as an intern at Red Hat (another open source company – if you didn’t already know that). Shay says:

This internship wasn’t my first experience in a corporate environment. I worked full time after completing my undergraduate studies and while pursuing my Master’s degree in Informatics, and I have seen managers take a very micro-management approach. I’ve noticed how some employers treat employees as if they are numbers rather than assets with unique skills and talents.

Working at Red Hat has been different, and I think that’s because of the company’s open source culture. Anyone at Red Hat—whether they’re an employee, customer, or partner—has the opportunity to voice their opinion about the products being offered and the direction of the company. I saw the power of that during my internship. When employees are kept in the know about crucial events and plans, they are quick to point out the good, the bad, and the ugly. It can be a painful process, but no stone is left unturned and the community grows stronger.

I still think I have the best job ever – for the best company ever – supporting the best open source product ever :) but now at least I know that others out there are getting to have the same experience that I am and doing what they love at the same time. I think that libraries (and many other companies) could learn from this style of corporation and management and benefit greatly from treating their staff as a community rather than just employees.

If you want to read more, check out Shay’s post and/or my column in Vol 3/Issue 3 of Collaborative Librarianship on Collaborative Leadership [PDF].

The open source behind Twitter


You’ve maybe heard of, a micro blogging tool like Twitter, but 100% open source, but did you realize that, as Jason Hibbets says, “Without open source, Twitter wouldn’t exist”? Jason starts off his interview with Chris Aniszczyk, Open Source Manager at Twitter:

Every Tweet you send and receive touches open source software on its journey between computers and mobile devices. We were curious about how much open source is used at Twitter. Beyond that, we wanted to discover how open source may influence the culture at Twitter, Inc.

One of the things I tell all of my open source students is that open source powers the web – and most of the popular sites that they use every day. So, open source fans, don’t write off Twitter just because the software itself isn’t open source, at least the power of open source is still being harnessed to keep this popular micro-blogging site afloat!

If you want to learn more about how Twitter uses the power of open source read the entire interview and/or check out Twitter’s open source page.

Open Source being developed Openly

The attendees of the KohaCon12 Conference.

Roy Tennant wrote an interesting post about the definition of open source, in it he says:

“Open source” should mean exactly that and nothing more — the source code of the software is open, thereby allowing others to see it, understand it, and perhaps modify it. How the software itself is developed should be an additional aspect to the terminology, such as “openly developed open source.”

Of course I went out to re-read both the open source and free software definitions so I could prove him wrong … but I can’t. He is right, the definitions of both free software and open source software say nothing about being developed in the open, but as those of you who have attended one of my workshops (or read my book) know, I disagree.

The attendees of the KohaCon12 Conference.

A true open source project should be open in every way. The source code of course, but also the development processes. It is only with true transparency that you end up with a successful, stable and secure open source product. Whenever companies talk about why they choose open source software they focus on the transparency around both the software and the development of the software and how that transparency adds to the value of the software.

An open source project with one developer or one closed group of developers will eventually fall prey to the failures of proprietary software. Eric Raymond says “Given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow” – I’d add that if those many eyeballs aren’t an ever-changing, ever growing-community then eventually bugs will become indistinguishable from the rest of the code. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic – but the fact is that one of the value added benefits of open source is that the software can live on and on. If, however, the software is developed by one person or one entity and that sole contributor decides to stop contributing, chances are their software is going to die … whereas an open source product with a community behind it will live on forever and ever.

Roy also says:

Unfortunately, I think the term “open source” as it has come to be understood through the near-religious zealotry of some advocates has clouded our terminology more than clarified it.

While I don’t think I’m a ‘near-religious zealot’ when it comes to open source, I am one of those people who adds community and open development to the definition of open source and I have found that it helps many people when evaluating products available to them. I always say that an open source product without an active open development community behind it has more of a chance of disappearing than one with open active development, but if the product does what you want as it stands now then go right ahead and use it (I have a few of these types of products which are no longer supported or developed on my computer in fact). Without this warning, people would choose the first open source option they find and then complain to me (or to their colleagues) that it doesn’t live up to the hype.

So, yes, Roy is 100% right in that the definition of open source in no way implies or requires open development, but in my opinion it very much is keeping with the spirit (and success) of open source to make sure that your open source project is developed in the open.

Creating a Statistical Patron in Koha 3.4


Koha has the ability to track the use of items in the library by logging those items as ‘checked out’ to a statistical (or fake) patron. This video will walk you through setting up a category for this patron type and next week we’ll cover tracking in house use of items with this patron category.

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 Software and Librarian Values


Looking to learn more about open source? Check out this article by Jason Puckett:

Puckett, Jason. “Open Source Software and Librarian Values.” Georgia Library Quarterly 49, no. 3 (July 1, 2012).

Jason is the one who taught me more about Zotero – one of my favorite open source tools!