KohaCon13: Funding the Future of Koha

Hello All –

I’d like to give a summary of a open discussion that occurred at KohaCon14 in Reno. A spot opened up from a presenter not being able to attend – so I volunteered to lead a discussion on Funding the future of Koha. First we invited all current and past RM’s of Koha up to the front of the room, to educate the audience on some of the “plumbing‚Äù needs in the code. When I use the term “plumbing‚Äù – I really mean portions of the code that need to be “rewritten‚Äù, “updated for current coding practices‚Äù, and a “plan for placing newer technologies and practices into the code‚Äù. Mainly plumbing = what do we need to get completed in the near future and how are we going to get that done.

Many of these “needs‚Äù are larger projects that not a single organization or library can fund, as we would really need to dedicate an expert programmer some uninterrupted time to accomplish these goals. Not one support vendor can brunt the front of the plumbing needs that need to happen. We need to work together to fund this and we need to have a place and plan going forward “now”. Let’s do this for Koha!

Points that were raised.

Many attendees felt that a clear plan on what path Koha should be developing towards would be a useful project. Although setting a ridged path is a difficult thing with a community like ours, maybe a place for everyone to get or stash ideas for future paths would be a good thing to organize.

An important comment here from the attendees was that when someone is funding a development – they should not just fund the code, but also plan for time and funding for the Sign-Off process and the QA process.

Funding and how would we organize this? Since many in the audience were from the USA – there was discussion of getting a users group going again OR creating some sort of “non-profit like org‚Äù where libraries could pool funding towards projects. An organization like this would be able to apply for grants etc. Something where we could crowd-source funding and then fund a developer for a number of hours towards a project.

My thoughts on some things that we can do in the USA.

Have a hackfest in Athen’s Ohio next summer. Next year will be 10 years since Koha migrated to the US and I think it’s about time we have a hackfest here. I have briefly talked with Owen Leonard about putting this together for next summer and would love for help and encourage those from overseas to join us. (Also a commitment here that we will be sending a few employees to the France Hackfest in March and will continue to do this every year that we can – that also being right around a feature freeze for releases it’s important to have a solid week dedicated to hacking Koha only)

Gauge the interest of a North American Koha users group so at least we are having more of the community meeting together and sharing practices and ideas. Comments from Galen “As far as a US or North American user group goes: I think a relaunch should start off with just the goal of hosting a US/NA conference, as it would /not/ be necessary to set up a nonprofit first to run conferences. We’d just need willing hosts and, if necessary, a firm willing and able to act as a fiscal agent. That’s not to say that such a group couldn’t pursue nonprofit status later, but we can get a lot of education and user-connecting done without ever having to have a formal organization.”

Thanks all – this is to promote discussion and hopefully we can all do this together!

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