ByWater Solutions and SWAN Library Services Announce Sessions for ALA Preconference on Open Source Software Success for Libraries

ByWater Solutions and SWAN Library Services announce session descriptions for the Open Source Software Success for Libraries pre-conference they are hosting in advance the American Library Association Annual Conference on Friday, June 23, 2023 from 9:00 am to 3:45 pm at DePaul University. Attendees will hear from libraries of all sizes about the rewards and challenges of implementing Open Source software including Koha, Aspen Discovery, Evergreen, and the Palace Project. Whether you use Open Source now, want to use Open Source in the future, or just want to hear more about what other institutions are doing, this is a great opportunity to hear first hand about the experiences and successes of various libraries.

If you are interested in attending, please register here:


The Value of Open Source

Presented by Aaron Skog Executive Director at SWAN Library Services

For libraries to accomplish their missions, serve their users, and effectively steward limited resources, libraries of all types must be able to select the services, platforms, and technology providers that match organizational values and meet both long and short-term needs. This session will call upon libraries to empower themselves by reestablishing agency and reasserting control over the business software applications and technical infrastructure critical to libraries' success. Library created solutions under the open source arrangement align with the cultural values of libraries writ-large, while the predominant model of corporate-controlled, proprietary are increasingly at odds with the immediate and long-term needs of libraries.

Leaving the Door Open to Flexibility

Presented by Bob Bennhoff AspenCat Services Manager at Colorado Library Consortium

Open source offers a unique flexibility to change vendors, without changing your software. Since open source software isn't owned, there are a lot more options to finding a vendor that fits library needs. AspenCat was able to find the right fit for its ILS (Koha) and Discovery Layer (Aspen). This session will cover that experience and the options available to libraries using open source.

The Birth and Development of Open Source Projects

Presented by James English Director of Business Development at The Palace Project | Lyrasis

and Jordan Fields Aspen Product Librarian at ByWater Solutions

How does an idea that starts with one library grow to not only become a reality, but a successful product used by hundreds of libraries? What lessons can be gleaned by open source projects that have made that transition? How does working with an open source project provide advantages to libraries and their users? In this session James English with The Palace Project and Jordan Fields with Aspen Discovery will share stories of how two open source projects started and the journey of how they got to where they are today.

What Else is Out There? How to Lead a Successful Search for a New ILS and Discovery Layer

Presented by Daniel Barden Technical Services Division Director at Cuyahoga County Public Library

Cuyahoga County Public Library had been customers of Innovative Interfaces for 18 years. We used Millennium then Sierra for our ILS and used Encore as our discovery layer. Our director said it was time to see what else was out there in the library marketplace that might help make our staff member's jobs easier and our customers happier. How do you successfully organize and lead this project to get buy-in from staff at all levels in a Unionized environment?

Open Source in Action: Implementing and Running Open Source

A panel discussion featuring:

Scott Brandwein, Assistant Director at SWAN Library Services

Bob Bennhoff, AspenCat Services Manager at Colorado Library Consortium and koha-US Vice President

Maddie Hines, Digital Strategies Manager at Montgomery County Public Libraries

Keisha Poole, Cataloging and Metadata Librarian at Arlington Public Library

In this panel presentation staff from libraries and consortia of various sizes will answer questions about what working with open source software is really like from implementation through support and day to day management. There will be questions on the benefits and challenges of the open source model as well as a conversation around how development works without a proprietary vendor.

The Open-Source Difference

Presented by Kathy Lussier - Executive Director at the SAILS Library Network

Libraries are showing renewed interest in open-source solutions as they more fully understand the level of ownership they have over these systems. Open-source software not only allows organizations to maintain control over costs, but also provides them with a voice in the direction of their software and ensures the solution reflects the fundamental values of the library profession. When participating in open-source communities, libraries and consortia become equal partners with their service providers as they move their solution forward. In this talk, Kathy will highlight the reasons why open source is a great fit for libraries/consortia and share her thoughts on how to best work in an open-source community.

Community Conversation and Next Steps

In this group discussion, we will take time to reflect on all the presentations and talk as a group about successes and challenges from attending institutions. Together, we’ll brainstorm next steps on what it will take for both individual libraries and the open source community as a whole to thrive.

Speaker Bios

Aaron Skog

Aaron Skog is a technology librarian with 25 years experience with public library operations and networks, and is the Executive Director of SWAN, a library consortium of 101 libraries. SWAN adopted Aspen Discovery as its platform for library users, and has created the open source tool OHM (OCLC Holdings Manager) for managing library collection holdings in

Bob Bennhoff

Bob Bennhoff has been in libraries for nearly 20 years, managing a consortia for the past 11 years that currently uses Koha and Aspen Discovery. The consortium consists of more than 150 small, rural libraries of all types. It is Bob's passion to use the open source model, to bring quality software to these libraries, at a price they can afford.

James English

James English currently works as Director of Business Development at The Palace Project | Lyrasis where he conducts business development activities, partnership development, and new market entry as part of The Palace Project division team. He also works across other company open source programs to help build scalable and sustainable services and drive innovation. Prior to LYRASIS James worked at The New York Public Library to create the Library Simplified Program and SimplyE platform. Before coming to work in the non-profit sector, James was Chief Product and Executive Officer of Telemetry Labs and as Chief Product and Operations Officer for Guardian Networks, both web and mobile product development service providers specializing in machine-to-machine technology development, R&D and managed services for utilities, municipalities and fortune 500 companies.

Jordan Fields

Jordan Fields is currently the Aspen Product Librarian for ByWater Solutions. She spent the first phase of her career working in technology management for public libraries from a large urban public library to a smaller rural library system and even a mixed-type library consortium. Frustrated by the lack of good software options for libraries, she turned her attention to software product management where she has spent the past eight years working on open source and proprietary products including library discovery, archives, and marketing platforms. There’s nothing she enjoys more than talking to librarians and dreaming up the future for their communities.

Daniel Barden

Daniel Barden has worked in public libraries for 28 years. He started in public services working reference, spent time as a trainer, and managed a large adult services department before transitioning to technical services. He has been in technical services for 17 years. At the Alachua County Library District (FL) he was part of a team that led a successful ILS migration. Daniel is currently leading the committee charged with migrating Cuyahoga County Public Library from Sierra/Encore to Koha/Aspen.

Maddie Hines

Maddie Hines is a senior digital strategist working in public libraries with a passion for centering library users at every online touchpoint. Dynamic, inclusive, and accessible public libraries are essential to thriving communities and her role focuses on ushering the customer through online services, resources, and applications that improve lives, create joy and generate equity.

About SWAN Library Services

SWAN Library Services is dedicated to bringing 100 libraries in the Chicagoland areas for the purposes of resource sharing and collaboration. They connect a 1.9 million service population with their community library. To this end, SWAN built a shared online public catalog with nearly 8 million items available to library users. This is a unique collection of materials, e-content, and library events. SWAN’s strength is founded on providing a common platform of services and promoting collaboration among libraries. Over the past 5 years, the membership of SWAN has grown by 25 libraries.


About ByWater Solutions

ByWater Solutions is a full service, high-quality Open Source support and implementation company dedicated to providing libraries with a lower cost, more advanced level of support for their systems than a traditional proprietary solution can offer. ByWater Solutions has a proven track record in the first-rate implementation and support services with library systems of all sizes for the Koha ILS, Aspen Discovery, Folio LSP, Coral ERM, and Libki PC Management.

Our highly ranked, comprehensive support is what sets our company apart from any other vendor in the industry. Partnering with ByWater Solutions not only lowers the cost of implementation and maintenance of OSS but more importantly empowers libraries by giving them the flexibility and freedom they deserve. For more information please visit

For More Information

Elise Aiello
Partner Engagement Specialist
ByWater Solutions