Saturday, August 27, 2016


Well I just don't know how the hospitality going forward can possibly beat Malaysia.

Esmael Wan has driven a million miles this week, and been a great host. Can't imagine he has had a lot of sleep and I've barely been left to eat alone - which is really nice. Eaten at local cafes that a tourist would never find and the food has been spectacular. I'm very grateful to his lovely wife Yati who has been so gracious in sharing him this week and for such a lovely day driving down from Kuala Lumpur to Penang.

I attended two very well attended meetings very generously sponsored by Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang, Open Sistem - Malaysia and the Penang Public Library.

Koha Community

Irma and Bob and I discussed in Sydney how many truly lovely people there are in the Koha Community; I'm not going to name names but there are many; genuinely kind, friendly, giving. This trip has been extraordinary. People like Esmael - whom I had never met before - meeting me at the airport in the middle of the night holding a sign up with my name on it. Then 3 days driving me from pillar to post, introducing me to librarians and developers from the Koha world, taking me to fabulous local restaurants, and capped off with a great day sightseeing and a scrumptious dinner with the staff from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang (and yes - he drove all day again).

One of the conversations I had with some librarians was observing how brave I must be to travel abroad alone. Well you know, it is very easy to be brave when everyone is so kind. I feel blessed and so grateful for this opportunity to meet people who love Koha as much as I do.

Cool thing

Mr Pisol showed me around the Penang Public Library which is so bright and welcoming and modern. One project they are working on blew my socks off in its simplicity but potential to be life changing. A blind staff member translates books into braille and prints out clear sticky tape of the braille text which is then stuck into the books. This enables a blind person to 'read along' with their fingers and also to hear the sound of the words as someone reads beside them. So simple but brilliant.


The Islamic Art Museum in Kuala Lumpor is a must see with a breathtaking collection of illuminated manuscripts and prayer books, weapons and architectural models of mosques around the world.

The thing I noticed too was how accessible the entire complex was. So friendly and accommodating with kids darting about and tourists reading the exhibit signage. It was such an inviting way to find out about Islamic religion and culture.

I also visited a batik factory and watched the staff lay down the wax outlines and hand colour the fabric. We had to buy - of course :)

I also tried breadfruit, durian and rambutan at a street stall (all delicious).

Next stop India!



As I write this it is Friday night the 27 August and I have been travelling for nearly a week. I flew from Wellington to Sydney last Sunday morning 21st and was hosted by the lovely Bob and Irma Birchall from Calyx Australia.

I had a frantic fortnight before flying out; my kitchen and bathroom are being completely renovated while I am away so decisions, decisions, decisions. I also had the audit and final Annual Report to complete for the Trust. The upshot was that I arrived tired and a bit manic.

Bob and Irma fed me, pampered me, calmed me, gave me 2 nights of glorious sleep-filled bliss and - most importantly - filled me up with lots of Koha talk and helped me focus on the trip ahead. A highlight of my stay was being present when 'the bell' got rung to celebrate the signing of a new client! Anyway I left their little spot of paradise a completely different woman ready for the adventure ahead.

Cool Thing

The night before we left, at the Sydney User Group meeting, I met a lovely librarian called Lesley and she told me about her voluntary work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. She helps young adults get their drivers licences, The wins for this project are immense:

  • literacy aspect: learning the road code and sitting the test,
  • financial aspect; avoid incurring fines for driving without a licence,
  • criminal record avoided,
  • social interaction with driving mentors who help with driving practice,
  • public safety: less unlicensed drivers on the roads.

I really love the breadth of work that we librarians get involved in.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Koha-Oz Meetup Sydney Aug 22 2016

5.30pm tonight at the Madison Hotel (upstairs)

52 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills (opposite Central Station).

About me

I worked on the original release of Koha and it is a real pleasure to be touring the world as a Koha ambassador. I recently left Horowhenua Library Trust in New Zealand where I had been the boss for the last 6 years. After raising my 4 children I am ready for  fresh challenges starting with 3 months travelling the globe meeting the Koha community members and talking about Koha and Te Takere, Horowhenua's new library, culture and community centre.

About Koha

Koha, the world's first open source library management system, was developed in 1999 by Horowhenua Library Trust in 1999.“Releasing Koha under an open source licence made so much sense to us; we were a public library not a software development company and we needed a much wider pool of librarians to develop the software further”. Today Koha is one of the world’s most widely used library management systems with a strong development community that provides 24/7 support.

I will be attending the Koha-Oz meetup tonight as a guest of Bob and Irma Birchall of Calyx. 

In addition to my work on Koha, which won the 2000 3M Award for Innovation in Libraries, I was the first librarian outside of USA to be named an American Library Journal Mover and Shaker – Tech Leader, largely for my work developing Kete, another open source project that won the 2008 3M Award for Innovation in Libraries and a 2007 World Summit Awards : Special Mention (North America and Oceania) in the e-inclusion section.

The #kohaworldtour includes Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Mumbai, Pune, London, Prague, Olumouc, Vienna, Berlin, Dublin, Norway, Sweden, Marseille, Washington, New York, Vermont, Montreal, Kansas, Oregon and San Francisco.

For further information about the Koha-Oz meetup tonight please contact Irma Birchall,