Report from ALA: the Koha and Open Source ILS communities
The Open Source ILS Community
ALA was a week ago and I realized I haven't blogged about it yet! This is a summary of a few events that I attended having to do with Koha or Open Source. These events range from a general meeting of open source ILS users (OSS4PL), to a Koha users group meeting (KUDOS), to a demonstration of new Koha development. Perhaps one of the most difficult things to keep straight about open source ILS software is that there are different software products (Koha, Evergreen and more) and for each of these, libraries have the option to have a vendor provide support (we are using LibLime) or to go it on their own. As the number of libraries using an Open Source ILS increases, the community of users, developers and vendors is figuring out how to organize themselves and ultimately work together.
OSS4PL stands for Open Source Software for Public Libraries. The goal of this group is to foster communication between the different open source ILS software users. At the OSS4PL "unconference" at ALA, libraries using both Evergreen and Koha gathered at the beautiful Harold Washington Library Center (Chicago PL). In one exercise we organized ourselves into groups to discuss a particular topic. Naturally, we organized ourselves into Koha and Evergreen groups! This was beneficial to those of us in attendance from SCLS because we made some new Koha contacts. The second session was a more general discussion of issues facing the open source ILS community. From this session we learned a bit more about Evergreen and its development path. This event was organized by the King County Library System and the Galecia Group.
KUDOS is a U.S. users group for libraries using Koha. Present at the KUDOS meeting were representatives from Koha libraries of all types and sizes; some use a vendor and some support Koha on their own. The primary focus of this group is to develop ways that Koha users can share information with each other. Goals include creating an easy-to-use list of U.S. libraries that use Koha, sharing information on development projects and holding an annual user conference. John Brice of Crawford County Federated Library System has been doing the arduous work of ratifying KUDOS as a non-profit organization. KUDOS will need to work within the international Koha community, regional communites (such as Wisconsin) and any vendor communities that may develop.
LibLime, our Koha support vendor, was doing Koha demonstrations throughout ALA. I attended a demonstration of features being developed by LibLime that will be available in a future release of Koha. Ian Walls of NYU Health Sciences Library tweeted the presentation as it was happening. (How cool is that?) Here is a summary of that Twitter feed as posted by Nicole Engard on her Open Sesame blog.