Koha News

Being a Koha Supporter and Koha Fundraising

Answer me this.. what's free but worth millions; has millions of lines of code and is written primarily by volunteers?

The prize, Koha!

The Koha story is compelling and describes the desire and willingness of a library system to bring to fruition the beginnings of a reliable, self-supportive, and well documented open Library Management System. Since it's conception in 1999 until its launch in 2000, Koha has become wildly accepted and is currently used in over 15,000 libraries. At KohaCon2020, in Wellington, New Zealand, we will be celebrating Koha's 20th year and we couldn't be more excited!

What brought you to Koha?

Koha's legacy and staying power is well established but what brought you to Koha? That it's a free, robust, mission-critical, SaaS software used by thousands of libraries around the world makes it attractive. But then, add it's simplicity, flexibility, ease of accessibility, dependability, semi-annual upgrades, monthly updates, and incredible online documentation and it becomes a must-have! And how fantastic is it that we have a dependable, responsive, and intelligent community of developers and support vendors. And that an opportunity exists for us all to be an integral part of a community that wants your guidance in development?

Well, whatever it is, you’re here and we’re all the better for it.

Koha's release created immediate recognition spawning development and support from capable individuals and supportive libraries. Taking a leap of faith and moving Koha to the open-source realm (GPL) was no small achievement given the happenstance of development and development financing. Organically, Koha's global acceptance and use has resulted in libraries and support vendors contributing developments and financial resources toward Koha's growth. And though Koha is free to everyone, it comes to us at a cost of millions of dollars (when was the last time you got anything worth millions for free?) in developments over its 19 years. Continued developments and library community interests have leveraged Koha's incredible growth and acceptance raising it to the status of the worlds most downloaded and implemented Integrated Library Management System (ILMS).

What propels Koha forward?

Community interest in seeing Koha succeed to be the best mixed with your donations and contributions. Bear-in-mind that all open-source software (eg Linux, LibreOffice, Firefox, MariaDB, Apache, Koha, etc) require financial support from its community of users as well as entities with like interests. Each of us realizes that financial support is a part of the bedrock and foundation of all open-source software. To fully accomplish the missions and objectives of any open source, mission-critical software, you must have financial support in its many forms.

Financial support is a critical component in the advancement of Koha though I like to refer to it as, “the happenstance of development financing.” Koha could be further along if there was a dedicated fundraising component to the Koha-Community. Currently, Koha volunteer developers and support vendors bear the lions share of most development costs which have limitations. The Koha-Community and Koha users groups, need to develop and grow the ability to garner financial assistance from not only it's community of users but also with those whose interests align including applicable grants.

Currently, Koha-Community and koha-US are two organizations positioned to pursue, promote, and solicit Fundraising. Koha-Community has mechanisms in place to begin conducting fundraising but is limited in that it is neither a registered non-profit nor currently, actively, seeking donations and/or contributions. koha-US is a registered non-profit (EIN–81-4092735) and is fully positioned to begin accepting and seeking financial contributions and donations through a variety of fundraising promotions. koha-US has an established Board of Directors, registered members, and well-developed committees that include Finance, Fundraising, Development, Education, and Conference Committees. koha-US BoD and Committees are comprised solely of volunteers, and they have monthly BoD, General and Committee meetings, with dates and times that can be found on the Events Calendar.

How to help – Developments happen with your support

It's great when a library moves to Koha and understands the necessity of maintaining or having plans for adding a budget line item for Koha developments. Libraries switching to Koha normally experience incredible savings so a budget line item to support in-house developments or to support other community developments is a savvy consideration. Having this in your budget and using it annually can be incredibly supportive for any upcoming or ongoing Koha developments. Koha needs and excels on the financial support of its libraries and as Koha’s complexity evolves so does the need for this form of support.

Here are a few ideas to help guide you with development support.

1.) Start your own in-house development committee. Meet once a month, once a quarter or semi-annually to gather development ideas that your library(s) is interested in or needs and use your budget as a means to guide you.

2.) Speak to your support vendor. Ask about current developments, crowdfunding efforts, to see if there is an existing development you can assist with funding.

3.) Check Koha's Bugzilla and/or with the Koha-Community developers and current release manager through IRC. The developer's feedback can be invaluable in discovering the best developments to place your support.

4.) My final suggestion, speak with and join your local user group and participate in their development committee. In the US, Canada, MX, and Central/South America you can connect with koha-US.