Thursday, September 24, 2009

Public Library Service in Horowhenua : now and in 2030

I have a small task to do .. nothing too challenging for a wet Thursday... I need to prepare 'something' to communicate to Council Officers what the library service delivered by Horowhenua Library Trust in 2030 might look like. Yes - I can hear you laughing - and now that I have stopped weeping, I am actually starting to feel excited by this.

The Background.
Very briefly: we have a new library building planned for Levin, we have been messed around for about 5 years, change of staff at Council, new chap thinks we have no vision, no plan, no idea what we want to achieve (obviously case studies, building briefs etc etc have been "lost" in the bowels of Council) . Moving along ...

The Good News
And this really is good news:
  • Council are not disputing that we need a new building - they just want to know what we want to 'put' in it,
  • Fundraising is going splendidly well - we have almost $2m already.
Refresh our Vision
We now have this golden opportunity:
  • take back control of the project and drive it ourselves,
  • think about changing societal trends in general and Levin in particular in 2030,
  • refresh and define the role of HLT library service in the community both now and in 2030,
  • consult with our community about what they want,
  • recommunicate our vision.
I put out a wee cry for help on Twitter yesterday and the lovely Brenda Chawner and Alison Wallbutton sent me through some really useful links that I am including here for future reference.

Current Library Thinking
The last link above is a visioning project currently being undertaken in Australia. While the report isn't out yet, but due any day, what I have found on the net so far is quite inspiring. The exercise is based around a scenario matrix, from which 4 possible scenarios are derived.

The good folk doing the work have shared their slides as well (I love librarians:)

Societal TrendsLocal Context
What next
So the plan from here is to read through the future trends stuff about society in general, take a look at the Statistics NZ stuff for Levin demographics, then the Horowhenua Development Plan to see how Council see our local community developing over the next 20 years. We need then to think about that all in relation to the Future of Libraries scenarios, and from there come up with a vision of the role of the public library in Levin,now and moving forward, and the services we will be offering and the functions we will fulfil.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Liblime forks Koha

Horowhenua Library Trust developed Koha, the world’s first open source library management system back in 2000. We gave it to the world in the spirit of community. We are very happy, delighted in fact, for any organisation or individual to take it, improve it and then give their improvements back.

Recipricocity is the keystone which gives strength to the Koha Community.

We do not begrudge vendors taking our gift and building a commercial enterprise out of it, as Liblime, Biblibre and any number of others have done, but the deal is that you give back. This has worked well for a decade and Liblime has been a strong, valued and much appreciated member of the Koha international community over that time.

So it is incredibly sad and disappointing that Liblime has decided to breach the spirit of the Koha project and offer a ‘Liblime clients only’ version of Koha. Let's call it what it is: vendor lockin and a fork.

Technically, because Liblime offers hosted Koha what it is doing does not breach the GNU GPL licence conditions of Koha. Liblime has said it will continue to push new developments – but its actions show it is not contributing code or participating in the community anymore. Other developers are sharing their public Git repositories but there is no sign of Liblime's yet. An important principle of FOSS is that you release early and often allowing the community to share in the development and benefit.

Long serving, reputable staff with a proven track record of commitment to open source have, I assume, chosen to not work in the new Liblime culture. They have moved to other vendors committed to the FOSS ethos - people like Nicole Engard who late last week accepted an employment offer from Bywater Solutions and Biblibre.

The other thing that us Kiwis don’t understand is how Liblime could have trademarked the word ‘Koha’. It’s a simple and common word in New Zealand; it would be like trademarking the word ‘thanks’ or ‘gift’ or ‘hello’ in America. Liblime has also registered a Koha Foundation which strikes at the very soul of the Koha community. Liblime has taken the name, the domain and the foundation away from us all. The company has said publicly that it is just holding them in safe keeping for the community and will hand them back to the Koha community.

The real loser in all this is the WALDO consortium who seem to be bearing much of the fallout for Liblime's divisive decision to fork the code. Much of the new development work that Liblime is going to be withholding from the community is being funded by WALDO - $USD600k worth:

* Acquisitions: Purchase Orders, Budget Hierarchies
* Serials: Serials Binding, Improved Prediction Patterns
* Cataloging: Holdings Structure (3-tiered), Authorities Control
* Circulation: Offline Circulation, Proxy Patrons
* System Administration: Granular Permissions, Enhanced Reporting

This could be a great contribution by WALDO to the Koha open source project, and a splendid reciprocal payment for being given Koha in the first place… except that Liblime is taking it, keeping it and robbing WALDO of the kudos and goodwill that they should be earning by sponsoring this development. Why WALDO are letting this happen is anyone’s guess but I sincerely hope that other Liblime clients don’t let this happen to them too.