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Koha from a Newbie Perspective

My previous work experience in libraries and with databases has been with proprietary automation systems. I have been working at ByWater Solutions for two months now, and this is my first time witnessing the process of open-source software support and development. I never imagined software development or support would ever appeal to my personal value system, but it has.

The first time I had that tingly feeling was during a library training I attended given by Nicole Engard. She explained that Koha meant loosely “a gift with responsibilities” in MƒÅori. It so effectively sums up open-source development through my rose-colored, newbie glasses. I regularly witness the push to contribute to the Koha community and the encouragement to be a part of the larger Koha community beyond ByWater.

I have also learned how libraries can work together to get features they want developed, and how they are not at the mercy of software vendors. You want a feature? All a library has to do is find other libraries who might want it also to pool together to get it developed! Power to the [library] people! It is brings libraries together to solve problems and encourages sharing of knowledge, something this librarian values. I like the dynamic of the larger library community coming together, rather than the isolated vendor/client dynamic, with the library at the mercy of the vendors.

With Koha, it seems that the development or maintenance issues that rise to the top of importance, are ones that the community, as a whole, values most. Sure, that means that not everyone has every need meet. There is no one size fits all library automation system, but the beauty of open-source is that should the need arise to develop the system further on their own, a library can.

I am a strong believe in the value of being a community member, and I love the idea of the collective knowledge of the Koha community, which is greater than can be contained in one software company. Not only that, but what seems to drive most developers and community members is a keen interest in making the system better and a sense of ownership over something so integral to their libraries.

As a librarian and as a community member, I am really proud to be working with Koha and ByWater Solutions, as I take my responsibilities seriously.

Read more by Danielle Elder

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