or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


NELA-ITS Spring Program 2007 – Joshua Ferraro

   June 6th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Joshua Ferraro speakingJoshua Ferraro, LibLime
Although representing a support service company, Joshua was really here to talk about the Koha ILS. I didn't know much about Koha before this, but during Josh's sixty-minute talk, it became my favorite library tool.

It originated in New Zealand, but has since been implemented in American libraries, too. The beauty of its open sourceness is that libraries are not tied to a single vendor for support and developments - we can do things ourselves, or benefit from the contributions of others in the community, or pay companies like LibLime to do the development for us.

And of course, this is all to our specifications and on our timetable, rather than that of a vendor who is more interested in profiting off of us than in serving our patrons.

Here's a few things I really liked about Koha (using the Nelsonville (OH) Public Library's catalog as an example):

  • Intelligent ("field-weighted") searching works like patrons expect: searching for "it" returns relevant matches, rather than junk. Also, searching for "Stephen King" returns different matches than "King, Stephen," because the catalog presumes the latter is a search for books by King, rather than information about and by him
  • Facetted search results show on the left, to let patrons easily and quickly refine their search
  • Native rss feeds available for every search (allows people to keep up to date with new acquisitions)
  • Multiple sort options, including currently available items only (and that's live data, not based off an indexed file)
  • Extensive and powerful advanced search options
  • Records and editions grouped via FRBR and xisbn
  • Book jacket images, reviews, description, and more right where patron can find it, from Amazon (for free) or companies like Syndetics (for a fee)
  • "Virtual Shelves" for both award winners, best sellers, staff-generated lists, etc., and patron-generated lists (once they've logged into their account)
  • Patrons can also submit purchase suggestions
  • Supports multiple data formats, not just MARC - even websites
  • Offers built-in federated searching with something LibLime calls MasterKey

Obviously, I took good notes on this section. My library has been reviewing another open source ILS, Evergreen PINES, and since LibLime supports both, it was interesting to hear Josh's comparison of them. It basically broke down like this:

  • Evergreen: 1.5 years old, used by 1 library system, and is designed for top-down control (a single decision is made by the administrators for the entire system)
  • Koha: 8 years old, used by 500+ libraries, and is designed for local control (each libraries can make custom interface changes independent of the others in the consortium, while still sharing data)

Koha also offered some other cool features, like a page translation option, varied interfaces for adults, kids, etc., and much more.

Speakers

evergreen, ils, joshua ferraro, koha, liblime, libraries, library, nela, nela-its, open source



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Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Open Source

   May 17th, 2007 Brian Herzog

Looking for a way to learn more about using open source tools in your library? Sure, we all are. Have I got a program for you...

One committees I'm on is the Information Technology Section of the New England Library Association. In addition to going to the meetings and sponsoring sessions at NELA's annual conference, we're also planning the NELA-ITS Spring Program, called "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Open Source."

This program is being held Wednesday, June 6, 2007, at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden, in Boylston, MA. I'm looking forward to going, both for the program itself and because I've heard Tower Hill is a great place to spend a nice day outside.

More about the program:

Program Schedule:
9:30 Registration and Breakfast
10:00 Opening Session - Elizabeth Thomsen, North of Boston Library Exchange
11:00 Break
11:15 Koha Open Source ILS - Joshua Ferraro, Liblime
12:15 Lunch
1:00 Running Linux Applications in a Public Library - Randy Robertshaw, Tyngsboro Public Library
1:55 Flavors of Linux (Ubuntu and more!) - Wes Hamilton, Technology Coordinator, Western MA Regional Library System
2:40 Q & A with our panel of speakers
3:30 Program ends

Cost: NELA Members - $40 Non-members - $50

More details and online registration is available, but feel free to ask me any questions you might have, too.

Going to various committee meetings is okay, but I really enjoy getting off the desk and out of the library to find out what other librarians are doing and how they handle the same issues I see in my own library. This program will be great for that - maybe I'll see you there.

Elizabeth Thomsen, ils, information technology section, Joshua Ferraro, Koha, koha, Liblime, libraries, library, linux, Linux in a Public Library, nela, nela-ite, nela-its, new england, new england library association, open source, Open Source ILS, public libraries, public library, Randy Robertshaw, spring program, tower hill, Tower Hill Botanic Garden, tower hill botanical gardens, Ubuntu, Wes Hamilton



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