Play, Learn, Innovate

Online Symposium co-sponsored by OCLC and Library Journal | Play, Learn, Innovate | June 7, 2011 | Over 1,000 registered | Keynotes: Liz Danforth, Erica Rosenfeld Halverson, Kurt Squire | #playlearn | (Sketchy sound quality)

Innovation never comes without learning.


  • Playfulness, gaming and motivation: Liz Danforth
  • Augmented reality games in the library: Kurt Squire
  • Role of play in learning environments: Erica Rosenfeld Halverson
  • Open Discussion
  • Twitter discussion
Playfulness, gaming and motivation
  • Worked on Library literacy and gaming project | Artist
  • Big ideas inspire and create direction – ideas can catch fire – ideas spark creative innovation
  • “After all, what’s the worst that could happen?” – It can be dangerous and too easy to envision what can go wrong.  Look for the joy, engagement and Upside – avoid fear…What could go RIGHT?
    • Seattle Public’s Flashmob dancers | NYPL’s Ghostbusters – passion and joy celebrated, where HS kid’s light saber battle was reprimanded (boo)
  • Cognizant Dissonance (sp) – how to manage the Good and the Bad and recognize possibilities – we are traditional, but cutting edge.
  • Benefits of Playfulness: Hugh McLeod, Jane McGonigal, Daniel Pink, Brian Sutton-Smith
    • “The opposite of work isn’t play, it’s depression” – Brian
    • “Autonomy Mastery Purpose” – Daniel
    • Games address internal motivators
    • “Joy through making things happen” – Hugh
  • Internal v. External motivators – carrot or stick.
  • Social games – Braid (thought provoking game by Jonathan Blow) – says “social games are evil” b/c social games aren’t social – they depend on exploitation and are fundamentally selfish.
  • Form intrinsically supports substance – Bibliobouts, Foldit, Social Chocolate, Free Rice – science games, how to get around a library, improve vocabulary
  • Should Games Exist to Change the World? – Yes, it’s the best future we can hope for.  Games teach.  Science of positive emotion and social connection.
  • Learning and Play – educators have a better handle on games and gaming, fun and playfulness than librarians!  We need to look at Partnership for 21st Century skills, WoW in School, Games for educators, Family Games, etc.
  • “Don’t have to know you’re being taught in order to learn.”
  • Tolkein franchise (example) – fan fiction, fan art, original literature, Mythopoeic Society, multi-player games and social interactions.  Libraries need to understand the literature and the games surrounding it!
  • Think playfully. Act playfully. Dream magnificently.  “Let’s make a game of it.”
  • Literary games, games to make the mundane fund (chore wars), silly games (zombie fluxx), and physical games (Kinect joy ride)
  • Games teach resilience and optimism.  “We learn from our mistakes, but first we have to make them.”  Children learn by trial and error.  Games are designed to let you win – that’s important.
  • Play teaches critical thinking, problem solving, resource management, and adaptive decision making.
  • Nielsen Three Screen Report
  • Work: Play rock, paper, scissors | Pimp my bookcart | Predict the winners
  • Read article: Games, Gamers and Gaming: Gamification and Libraries by Liz in LJ p. 84, February 15, 2011 issue
  • Quote from twitter: “Use games to engage, make things fun, break through political lines & get folks up and moving. Use the power of games for good. ” – jenniferkoerber
  • Why are we talking about play? Just in libraries or in whole?  Play = flexibility = working with others
    • Seattle Theater Group – flashmob | Improve Everywhere – Ghost busters at NYPL
    • Partner with book stores – find the usual and unusual suspects (including game designers)
    • Kids can design their own games!
    • Get out of your box – E3, Games for change, Origins Game Fair, Toy fairs, SXSW Interactive (discounts for librarians and educators)
  • Lead – get the heck out of the way!
  • Google – innovation time (20%) – on what interests them!  Something that catches their attention – Don’t wait for someone else to say “Go!”
  • Brainstorm, record, go back to them – this is where innovation comes from.
  • Summer Reading = Game | What do we want the ‘point of the game’ to be?
    • Tension between innovation and tradition/conservatism –
    • Yes, there will be some feeding of the stereotypes of libraries and literacy…but take that opportunity to ALSO expose them to the non-traditional services offered by libraries (multi-media/transmedia) –
    • What is a library and how are we re-defining ourselves?
    • Balance old and new values of librarianship
  • Library staff creativity – game ideas?
    • What are you trying to be innovative about?
    • How do you approach something with a playful attitude?
    • Decide to make a game of [insert idea here]
    • Play can be just silly.  Humor in the workplace – clown nose while doing grunt work changes your attitude
    • Silly works
Local Games for Learning: Developing Next Generational Learning Experiences for Libraries
  • Video Games and Learning (book) – stimulation, transmedia, learning through design, participatory culture, aesthetics of experience
  • Generation Mobile – what happens when every student has with a personalized device.  (which schools ban…)
  • Digital Participatory Media: learning is interest-driven | info is ubiquitous | persistent access to social networks | overlapping co-presences | create and catalog data | produce knowledge collectively | design experiences for others | authentic participation
  • ARIS – iOS locative game/tour authoring tool | wifi/gps/qr codes/image matching
    • Dow Day event in Madison Wisconsin example – augmented reality – see the history of the place
    • Scavenger Hunt (Steel) – Overlay maps, make money, fantasy game, put it on top of reality
    • Bike Box – Locative Media Collection – NY, players use iPhone camera to upload pics and tips – virtual tour – built online, record video/audio and upload, work through
  • Open Source – museums work to build their own apps, too.
  • Upcoming Directions: WeBird, Horticulture (Distributed data collection) – birding application – identify and catalog species
  • Game design studios – Lof C and Smithsonian
  • Strong Augmented Reality – “Forget Layer” – too cool!  See overlay of historic buildings on top of modern spaces
  • ARIS Global Game Jam – 127 games in 50 hours at dozens of locations in 4 countries – teachers, kids, students.  Online help 24 hours and face to face interaction.  Bring people together
  • Collaborative work spaces
  • Neighborhood Game Design project with Jim Mathews and Mark Wagler (60 year old Amish guy) – 12 kids from an alt high school built a game about their community.  Lo Fi Game – roles included geographers, photographers, demographers (will need to review the archive to get more about this – going TOO fast)
  • ARIS in Libraries – leverage local presence | Interesting data and archival issues and opportunities | connections to the community and existing groups | You can start simply with a tour!
  • Collaborations/partnerships – environmental groups, local history, schools
The Role of Play in Learning Environments
  • Artistic production in digital spaces – creativity and production – Fun Art Play
  • The Myth about play – idea that play is something that ‘just happens’ – we are stopping people from playing  – have staff take an improv class (we had improv troupe come to the Montana Library Association conference)
  • Rules from Tina Fey’s Bossypants – “There are no mistakes, only opportunities.”  “Agree and always say “Yes”.” Say “Yes, and” – don’t be afraid to contribute.  Accept the world created by the improv artists and add to it! Then “Make statements” – don’t sit around raising questions and point out obstacles, but be part of the solution.
  • Slip of the tongue – poem/youth film (poem by adriel luis/film by karen lum) – example of youth-produced art – Listen Up – production as learning
  • “Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture” by Henry Jenkins – Move from consumption to production.  Learn to be literate = Learn to think | Interest-driven networks (Ito et al., 2010) | Passion communities (Collins, Joseph  Bielaczyc, 2004) | Affinity groups (Gee, 2000, 2003)
  • Examples:
    • Artistic Production –
      • Involves conceiving, representing, and sharing a piece of art 
      • Literacy as production = new learning process.
      • Start with an idea (hardest part is idea crafting)
      • Representation = art making and the translation of the idea to a representation
      • Sharing and having legitimate spaces for sharing the work in ‘real ways’ – need an audience (libraries = good space and a bigger audience)
      • Assessment is intentionally embedded into process and product
      • Digital technologies can play an integral role in the production cycle.
      • Production is mainstream with Web 2.0 technologies
      • Tech is the lag not the lead – make the art first, then learn the technologies to accomplish the goal of making the art!
      • Software and hardware – how do they fit into the landscape?  (Lag, not lead)
      • “Francisco’s project is a graphic design piece dealing with him being a Mexican American, crossing borders each day going to different places with his art work and gathering all of his names.”
    • Fantasy Sports (gaming niche)
      • Statistical tracking games – player ‘drafts’ real players in sports (baseball) and use stats to compete with other players in the fantasy sports world.
      • Parallel processes – fan culture activity (actual stats of actual players) and competitive gaming (you want to win) = Competitive fandom
      • Model for structuring learning in data-rich environments
      • Involves data reduction heuristics, analogical reasoning, and adaptive expertise
      • Get to know other people in your team, learn to leverage
        – Fantasy activity | Fan activity | Primary Activity
  • Spaces for Play matter
    • “Romanticizing creativity and play has stopped us from theorizing the depth and complexity of learning to create and share a piece of art or to manage a game-based simulation.”
    • An emerging focus on literacy as fundamentally production-oriented practice is rich, but design poor
    • Shift from meritocratic to democratic participation in new literacies practices, we need to attend to “understanding and communicating principles for design.”
  • Learn from Museums – they are doing great things with production-learning
  • Literacy = creative / white collar future
  • Library involvement means thinking OUTSIDE of our building – advice for libraries who want to use play to animate space either inside or outside the library?  Erica says – think about conceptual spaces  – internet, physical, emotional spaces
Our Internal discussion – Heather, Brenda, Diana, Jenne and Cindi
To read: New Culture of Learning (it’s in NExpress)
Localization – Use the library resources to highlight the local resources. Leave the world to Google.
Foster Production – be the place to support creativity and the community to MAKE art or history or projects.
Historical information, digital mapping, local focus.
Project with the superimposed historical building.  Collaboration with city / chamber / etc.
What are people asking us about?
Trails project – map LV online – use the game piece to highlight the trails
Make a game of “now and then” – side by side until you can do the superimposition (technology)
From the Porch (reaction to the paper) – innovation based on failures
Geek the Library – it’s about your passions and what libraries do to support it.  Starts conversations with YOUR PATRONS.  Go where the people are – use the Geek ideas as a way to get into new communities (chess club).  And take advantage of the atmosphere of the library (yoga at the library is less threatening).
Idea of cataloging people in your community – what about businesses?  Have a catalog record for what used be contained in a vertical file.

Get Down and Digital

Have you seen this month’s Computers in Libraries? – it’s all about digitization.  While I have not yet read it cover-to-cover, I will.  Especially Jane Monson’s article, “What to Expect When You’re Digitizing: A primer for the solo digital librarian.”

  • Lesson 1: Accept Your Limitations
  • Lesson 2: Free Software Isn’t Really Free
  • Lesson 3: Seek Outside Funding Sources
  • Lesson 4: Start Small and Simple
  • Lesson 5: Learn to Juggle, and Establish a Backlog
  • Lesson 6: Get Creative About Collaboration
  • Lesson 7: Realize That Progress Will Be Slower Than You Expect

We are still discussing the best possible solution for our libraries – some who want a database of cemetery headstones (genealogy), others who want a no-frills database (to scan copies AND original photos), and some who are most interested in the user interface and having a local brand.  I’m toying with the idea of a parallel approach.  Work with the Kansas Historical Society and to preserve ‘unique’ and ‘fragile’ artifacts and also use one our spare servers to host a ‘knowledge basket’ like Joanne’s kete.  I envision everything and the dog photos going into a regional (or local or county-wide?) kete, with the really cool stuff going into  There are more hoops to jump with kansasmemory, but if a library has some artifacts of interest to a state-wide audience, I think the hassle would be justified.  Plus, Liz would get to learn about installing kete, an open source software developed by our friends at <katipo> over in New Zealand.  Have a look at Orlando Public’s “Orlando Memory” project.

Adrienne at the Rossville Community Library spent some time with me on Friday digging through her storage room, where we found the perfect set of original photos to use for a pilot.  She even has an HP scanner that has high enough resolution to work with either solution we end up using.  I’m also working with Tonganoxie, Lyndon and Atchison to get something going.  The hope/goal is to apply for a 2011 Heritage Grant from the Kansas Humanities Council.

Kete and Digital content

That’s Joann Ransom, Head of Libraries, Horowhenua Library Trust (read her blog).  I found her 7 minute interview with Kathryn Greenhill Inspiring AND right on track with what I heard from the IL keynote and Joan Frye Williams.  I love the part about the quilts and quilters and the story of the gentleman who knew all about farm equipment, but not computers, but still sat down and added detailed descriptions to Kete Horowhenua.

Kete Horowhenua – “A knowledge basket of images, audio, video and documents which are collected and catalogued by the community.”

Kete – Open Source software developed by Katipo, Communications

DigitalNZ – “DigitalNZ is an initiative that aims to make New Zealand digital content easy to find, share and use.”

Horowhenua Library Trust developed Koha and their shiny, new 3.2 Catalog is beautiful AND they have seamlessly integrated their Koha OPAC with the the Library’s Web page.  We’ll have to ask Chris Cormack more about that, he’s the developer at Catalyst IT (formerly with <katipo>).

Linux Minty Goodness

OK, so I’m dating a techie-in-training and he set up a re-purposed PC with the open-source Linux Mint operating system (and a cool picture-frame monitor) for me to use.  We took the suggestion to look at Mint from Liz, who put it on one of the office laptops.  (One of the many office laptops stolen last week by some gutless low-life punk.)

Anyway, the ‘new computer’ looks lovely in my office and I’m really happy with the OS.  Mint behaves intuitively and comes pre-loaded with Firefox and OpenOffice…and really, what do I need besides that?  Nothing.

I want to see if this is a viable option and possible substitute for Microsoft at our libraries, especially the smaller ones that have better things to spend their money on besides Microsoft Office licenses.

Post Tech Day

Agenda from Tech Day 2009.  As a Director, I celebrated the end of Summer Reading but here, I celebrate the end of Tech Day.  Last week was spent catching up, but also processing the information Amy shared with us.  I’m happy to report that the feedback on Tech Day was overwhelmingly positive, with David’s program on Digitization and the lightning rounds as highlights.  The ‘feel’ of Tech Day was definitely more relaxed this year, partly because of Amy, partly because of the chaotic nature of lightning rounds and partly because I wasn’t new to the job.  I hope people enjoyed themselves, along with learning a few things.

We’ve compiled a list of electronic resources mentioned throughout the day at the NEKLS Tech Blog.  Heather, the academic of the Tech Team, also put together some great articles and such about Open Source Resources that are well worth a read, also at the NEKLS Tech Blog.

It was a treat to meet Amy and talk to her on Wednesday about how Howard County Library (HCL) has implemented their open source solutions via Groovix and how that has positively impacted the customer service and ‘soft’ tech support she and her team are able to give staff now.  With so few broken computers, she has time to help people improve workflows and use of the technology, most of which they taught themselves to use in the first place.

Amy inherited the HCL open source experiment during “Phase 1: Let’s explore open source” when two of the technicians wanted to explore an alternative to upgrading every computer from NT to XP, so they played with loomix back in 2001.  They were able to use ‘bad’ machines successfully with loomix and eventually hooked up with Mike Pardee at Open Sense Solutions, who developed and supports the Groovix product.

“Phase 2: Outsource” – Howard County contracted with Mike to use Groovix.

Groovix is a web-based ‘solution’ (software) that combines an ubuntu operating system, web browsing, word processing, multi-media, web-based applications and security.  The software is deployed, supported, updated and monitored remotely by Groovix.  According to the project site, “Groovix was designed from the ground up to provide a secure public access computing environment. Groovix gives you functionality, customizability, security, and support.”  As anyone who’s thumbed through a browser history or looked at cookies and temp files on a public machine (that hasn’t been rebooted to clear all of that) knows, there is a ton of private information out on public machines.  In Sept. 2007, Groovix was deployed system wide.  Amy shared that HCL bought used PCs (GX150s), but now deploys GX270s at $170 a piece.  The extra money is used for monitors and 3 year maintenance for those monitors.  They keep hard drives and fans in stock and replace these parts when they break.

They went with the “internet cafe” model for public computing, with games for kids that can be accessed on ANY PC, not just the ones in the children’s area (a plus when the parent wants to go find a book and have the child nearby).   With the staff, all went well except for about a dozen folks who needed to keep their Windows clients.  Not everyone is comfortable going from operating system to operating system (from Mac to PC to Linux), but that is definitely a goal.  For email and file sharing, they use DeskNow or Zimbra.

With less time spent troubleshooting hardware and software because of Groovix, HCL tech staff were able to spend time on site at various branches, including Administration where a majority of the Windows clients were located.  Through observation and being available for one-on-one training, many software/workflow issues were resolved and much good will has been built.

Another decision made at HCL, due to the money saved from going to open source, was to provide the marketing department with Macs.  Rather than convert every file sent to the vendor, the library staff just used the same OS.

We asked a lot of questions of Amy, here are some random answers:

  • What’s the replacement cycle? “Just when they die, not every 3 years.”
  • Budget issues?  “It’s hard to budget for this kind of PC replacement.”  Her budget has stayed flat since she’s been there ($75,000).  She buys new PCs with free DOS, spends evenly across the year, buys big hardware at the end of the budget year and uses high school students to deploy.  Groovix comes out of the software budget, along with the ILS and Koha developments budgeted for completion prior to migration.  Groovix support is paid for annually and Mike manages all imaging for new PCs.
  • How do you sell this to a Board? “Put OpenOffice and FireFox along side Word and IE.”  Why do we pick Microsoft? For the support?  How often do we use that support?  How often do we instead go to Google and the community of users for support?  The numbers speak for themselves and Groovix proves itself.  She recommends keeping one retired machine, put it in as an OPAC machine or as a staff email machine for people to play with.

When changes come, Amy says, “I see nothing but opportunity.”  I think I’ll leave it at that!

Sponsorship Discussion

Unrecorded sponsorship discussion

  • Wiki and Koha Users list
  • Even the small projects should be posted somewhere so we can see all the projects – share among ourselves before we tell the vendor.
  • Use IRC to get status reports on where a development is in the process
  • Libraries, as sponsors, should add their sponsorships to a joint list, along with wishes and dreams and hopes – independent of vendors and developers (one line descriptions – RFC? wiki?
  • Ability to contact, collaborate – just need more communication and openness (different need)
  • From librarians for librarians (then link to the the developers wiki for the programmers)
  • Prior to sponsorship, get a more robust and thought-out feature and gauge need/demand (ranking feature) –
    • bugzilla enhancements (
    • Encourage use of bugzilla
    • 234 enhancements in bugzilla at this time (clean them out and add new)
    • French ticket system – some copy/paste between the 2
    • Existing tool, allows CC, searchable > Give sample instructions ‘best practices’
  • Users group participation, be careful of not recreating the traditional ILS voting mechanism/model
  • How do we handle a situation where a library wants to get an enhancement from one vendor when they already have a contract with a 2nd vendor due to time constraints?  Galen’s not sure how it would be handled and would have to be looked at ‘case by case’ and eventually vendors may have unique areas of expertise.

KohaCon09 and Koha 3.2 and Beyond

Koha 3.2 – What’s in it? – Galen and Paul

  • New acquisitions module
  • Holdings support
  • Circ improvements – configure policy to nth degree!  Woo hoo.
  • Improve stability
  • RFCs – Request for Comments – proposals, ideas, statement saying what we want in terms of functionality
    • programmers, libraries, groups, etc.
    • “Wouldn’t it be nice if Koha had a module to dispatch the library policy to get rid of really obnoxious patrons”
    • Grand cattle call – Interested parties submit proposals, posted to wiki, evaluated and discussed, from chaos comes a list of goals for next release of Koha
    • Need to communicate what you are planning to do and then Do It.
      • We need to share our own list of RFCs on bugzilla or IRC or KUDOS or just on our site!
    • Not all RFCs are implemented – just proposals, not sponsored, tempis fugit
  • New Acquisitions module
    • developed by BibLibre for a customer, working to submit patches, review and testing prior to live
  • Holdings structure – WALDO/LibLime
    • Introduces ‘summary’ records to Koha – bib records and item records (OK for monographs, but bad for serials not so good) – bound volumes – add a layer in between bib and item
    • Support MARC format for holdings display – MFHD – from “holding” to “summary” > not MARC format not necessary, can pretend 842 doesn’t exist.  Optional.
    • How will koha serials subsystem work with auto checkin? Links to update summary statements – doesn’t tie into serials – have a summary record separate from the serial check in/prediction pattern
  • Proxy patrons, fines thresholds, callslips, recalls, hourly loans, email checkout slips – more WALDO circ enhancements
  • Circulate fines in days debarred, Alloy computing ( – Stephen Edwards committer), place hold on multiple items (already up and running!)
  • No Fines – you are debarred a certain number of days, instead! (FRENCH IDEA WE SHOULD STEAL)
  • Hold policy and request improvements (NEKLS)
    • Architectural changes – less complex than imagined – biblio table and items table, adding summaries table that will be weakly linked to bib and items.  Indexing will be extended to include item and holds for zebra to index.
  • ReservsDirect integration with Koha (course reserves for academics)
  • OPAC Enhancements – the ‘pretty stuff’
    • Support enhanced content providers :: Syndetics, LibraryThing, Babeltheque and Tag multiple items
  • Cataloging
    • integration – service and embed biblios editor into Koha
    • improve browse indexes – browsing name, title and subject headings.  Current not a ‘complete headings’ browse
    • ISBN 13 normalization – for searching, indexing and matching – index 10 and 13 digit numbers
    • Item bulk status change (GOOD!!!) – BibLibre and LibLime both working on this
    • Brief records, record maintenance and deleted records – WALDO :: attach workflow statuses to bib records (ILL and on the fly cataloging)
  • Serials
    • improved display and prediction pattern management
    • more control over display of recently checked in issues – WALDO
  • Administration
    • Jesse rocks – he fixed the sys pref editor (he’s young and brilliant and in a few years when he can drink, I’ll buy him one)
  • Reporting – improvements to guided reports – add placeholders and template variables (edit statements???)
    • Integer parameter – specify how many days you want to run
    • Save time of library staff, too.  “Makes for happier librarians”
    • We need to get the CKLS report specs in the works! (hope, pray, push at KEGGER)
  • Misc
    • Granular permissions (more) – ex. Tools
    • IE compatibility (WALDO)
    • Overdue report improvement (PISD)
    • OAI-PMH server improvement (Tamil) – metadata farming improvements, protocols, etc.
    • URL checker cron job (Tamil – France)
  • Time Line – not finalized – 3.1 release for testing in early summer :: 3.2 most likely to be late summer or early autumn (future rolls, not freezes > ?)
  • Version numbering system – odd numbers = bleeding edge (3.1), more complete = even (3.2)

Koha Unconference for the Developers – Holiday Inn Board Room this weekend at 8 am

Where are Sys Groups? – Proposed as mechanism to cleanly seperate branches, working with a customer to implement more functionality, but doing more.  Part of it will be in 3.2, some will be available by late summer per commitment to that customer – will it go to 3.3?  Governed by the calendar.

Beyond 3.2

See twitter Search for Kohacon09

People –

  • RM, QA, Docs – ability to take on the task, endorsement, IRC election – “Usually only one person is crazy enough to volunteer” – Chris
  • Being a Manager, requires neutrality – reject patches, etc. if they break things – observe neutrality in respects to the source (commercial v. independent)
  • Koha developed by its users from the creation in NZ in 1999!  Exploded in India, China, North America, Europe and South America – will this lead to more formalized management??  Users Groups (France & US) – lots of interests to balance.

Specs and RFCs –

  • What bugs squashed? What enhancements made? OUR QUESTION – If we’ve contracted with LibLime to write code and there is independent development happening at the same time, do we pay for that or get a refund??
  • In-between projects
  • Galen recommends that KUDOS NOT work on the proprietary vendor model of user groups.  I would say, know that with Koha we can get an independent contractor/programmer to give us what we want!  Whoever contributes the code, has the most say!  Ask for something or find someone to Do it!  Band together to sponsor.
  • Avoid a split between the developers and the users/librarians.  Nag with money…and impress with contributions (and American Peanut butter not found in New Zealand grocery stores.)

Koha Project Time Line

  • RFCs – schedule developed by RM
  • Wheeling/dealing – input of users groups, vendor clients, developers, funding arrangements
  • RM elected – roles filled
  • Other roles
  • Proposed timeline: interim :: alpha :; beta :: translations :: production :: still more translations
  • Story of a new Feature: Specifications/requirements :: testing :: Contributed to project :: warm fuzzies
  • Head v. Maintenance version – 3.0 will be maintained for about a year after 3.2 is released and many libraries will continue to use ‘old’ versions.  Then a ‘tapering down’ process.

What’s next? 3.4 / 4.0?

  • More features? New architectural revisions? major new features? Still up in the air and debated during developers session over the weekend
  • Users are always dissatisfied (as are good programmers).  New workflows, new features, new interfaces…
  • fashion and impetus
  • RDA (maybe yes, maybe no) (RDA is?? Please fill in for me) ::Linked data :: dismodulation :: OLE :: Web Services
  • Swiss army chain saw (aka PERL) – aquabrowser, viewfind > have libraries put together systems that talk amongst self.
  • Needs:
    • Electronic Resource Management (for academics)
    • Consortia – Koha supports, but many models to accommodate – databases talking together and single database with various types of libraries
    • Resource sharing – trend and economic reality
    • 4.0 – architeture :; mod_perl :: memcached :: moose (up and coming PERL thing)
    • Interfaces:  SIP2, RFID, EDI for Acquisitions, Jangle project interaction (glue together different ILS for resource sharing – ILS talks to Jangle, Jangle translates and talks back to different ILS – research project at this time)

KohaCon09 Day 2

Poor Chris is voice-less.  Be kind to him and use sign language.

Under the Hood with MySQL with Joe Atzberger

  • Keeping kohasructure.sql in synch with mysql/ defines your Koha version (version number)
  • We need read only access (command line) to our database – so we can see ALL 125 tables and how they relate!
  • Tools – phpMyAdmin, MySQL Admin or Query Browser (free), or OSS
  • Design principles: limit dup values, put related data together, proper data typing, keys and indexes
  • Bib Data Problems – MARC not a relational design, has limits on record dimensions and performance implications
      • Legacy code and data – UNIMARC v. MARC21 issues
      • FRBR, holdings, bindings, serials (bound periodicals) – when / where will FRBR be implemented?
  • Core Tables: SysPref (key) :: Branches (most referenced by other tables & hard to delete) :: Borrowers (staff & patrons) :: Biblio (title level) > Biblioitems (marc & marcxml going away soon / historical & query speed – in future avoid “*” queries) :: Items (barcodes)
  • Parallel tables: deletedxxx or old_xxx: old_issues, old_reservese etc.  Inactive transactions are copied off to the old_issues table (b/c high volume)  Joe says we need more for high volumne transactions – same structure, but different constraints.  Need an “old_fines” – Ryan working on the fines issue – pending as active, historical as “old” –
    • Look at deleted borrowers table for ‘missing’ patrons
  • Black Magicks – marc_subfield_structure and marc_tag_structure – allows for MARC21 & UNIMARC (on the fly)
  • Paul covered Structure, Nicole handled queries – what’s left?  Pretty DB Scheme Picture

Looking at the Circ Wizard generated SQL statements and there are multiple!  I have no idea if this can be transferred to the SQL report builder.


Having spent time with the ‘godfathers’ of Koha – Paul and Chris – I feel this strong desire to protect and preserve and promote the community they helped build over the last 10 years.  I’m excited that adds to the community in a way and think we should probably be posting our materials to, as well.  Like I tweeted, I feel this urge to learn PERL and be the 82nd person to Commit (not likely to happen, but the cult-like feel here is getting to me).  Our libraries and librarians are in a position to not just ‘tweak’ the system to make it better, but to really come up with new and innovative solutions to everyday ILS challenges…say managing pre-pub holds or quickly cataloging weekly magazines?  Just ideas.

Tomorrow we get to hear about 3.2 and other future developments in Koha – that’s exciting and I will definitely go to those sessions.  Hearing David talk about Texas tonight was scary – glad I live in Kansas.  Also, talking with Paul and Nahuel makes me *really* want to travel back to Europe.  Time to get off my duff and turn in the passport application so I can get to Ireland.

KohaCon09 Day 1

As this is my blog and I can do what I want with it, I’m using it for note taking.

Also follow the action at: (or search Twitter for kohacon09)


Having met Chris and Paul last night, I’m excited to hear them talk about the history of Koha, born 1999.  Famous words, “It’s just a database, how hard can it be?”  It’s the insane rules and exceptions that stole all his sleep.  By 2002, BibLibre entered the scene.  I wish we still had the IRC town hall meetings, those would be interesting to see (on IRC).  The issue of ‘standards’ was an issue, so the French, English and others could use it.  This is great – I love hearing the history.  The English major in me is interested in the role press and FAQ writing played in promoting and supporting Koha.    Kaitiaki – means? (Maori for ‘guardianship’)  I’ll have to look it up. and more press articles – all written by users and contributed to the project.

Community organization – Kaitiaki as the guardian, Release Manager to deal with new features of next stable version and Release Maintainer to deal with current version and patches (validate and commit) and Document Manager for  Tried and failed to get QA Managers (hard and thankless)…needed, but have to handle rejection and conflict well, but not too well.

2005 – LibLime for local US support.  Paul and Henri went into partnership.  Koha 2.2 released. Fulltext searching and new

It’s all about the community…boy wouldn’t kohacon2006 have been FUN!

Now onto 2007 and 3.0 (enter NExpress) with LibLime.  Koha Days – one day a month, you work on features that no one is paying to fix.  What a good idea!  Also fix back-end problems and messes.  Now too busy with paid work (so can NExpress ‘sponsor’ more Koha Days?).

2008 – koha 3.0, Dehli public library, Nichole worked on the Koha Manual, LibLime and BibLibre grew.  Mason and Chris left LibLime, but Chris has been on sabatical for about a year.  3.0 a BIG change and 3.2 will be even BIGGER.

2009 – The present – Video!  K’s helping Hand, Koha & SOPAC (BibLibre development) and today 🙂

Koha – a gift with strings – bring koha when you go to a friend’s house for dinner.  Take, but expect to give back in the future.

More notes: – Danny’s blog and LibLime’s blog.  Chris picked PERL b/c his open source business already used it and there was a PERL library and MANY programmers.  Programmers are a good kind of lazy – efficient!

SQL Structure and Koha Data Tables – Paul Poulain

  • Parameters of Tables –
    • Authorized values – use it freely to define lists that can be available in the program
    • Branches – single locations, pieces of the overall Library
    • Item Types – Circ rules go here (I love this, CE in French)
    • Categories – the patron categories – we prefer Library City and Library Other and then Juvenile categories for both of those – very simple
  • Biblios and Items Data – can be updated to fit needs or use API for more complex needs. Joe Theolen recommends we look at MarcEdit to analyze bib data – I will follow up!
  • UNIMARC v. MARC21 flavours – Koha has to deal with both efficiently.  So:
    • Koha stores raw MARC in a field (biblioitems.marcxml)
    • Stores info in clearly named field (biblio.title,, etc. and biblioitem.itemtype, etc.)
    • Koha takes care of translating the MARC datas into biblio.* or biblioitems.* information
    • The biblioitems table contains ALL representations of the title! (FRBR) – so Lord of the Rings are all stored in a single table, regardless of edition (I think is what he’s saying).  1 biblio, 1 biblioitem and multiple items (barcodes)
    • biblioitems actually biblioedition – will this be reintroduced?  FRBRizing stuff – complicated to not have 1 to 1 bib to edition relationship
    • biblioitem table just a duplicate of the biblio table (could be merged, but noone has bothered)
    • Which field is used:
      • result lists and MARC detail – marcxml
      • Standard bib detail result – marcxml if you have XSLT (and use marc 21) (unimarc libraries use bib/bibitems tables)
      • Everywhere else (reserve list, issuing list) – biblio and biblioitems tables are used
    • Items Data (all data stored in MYSQL) – biblioitems.marcxml and items table duplicate data
    • When editing an item, you update 2 tables – items and biblioitems.marcxml
      • Homebranch (owning library) v. holdingbranch (current location)
      • itemcallnumber field  – physical location = call number, home branch and shelving location
      • Table/field names – borrower v. patron and issue v. checkout and our confusion with ITypes and their descriptions!
      • onloan field – only filled when an item is checked out (used for z39.50 status info with Agent ILL)
    • Primary Key – biblionumber and biblioitemnumber (in 3.0 – same number and the one in the URL)
    • Primary Key in Items table – Item Number, not barcode table
    • SQL Patrons – single table (called ‘borrowers’)  – some say there is TOO much information in this single table.
      • Fields change depending on the category chosen (no DOB on Institution category form).
      • Borrowernumber – Koha primary key, so lost card = just update the record with a new barcode
      • No ‘clear’ passwords – **** instead
      • Only 1 barcode per user
  • Check Out/Issues tables – borrowernumber, itemnumber, date_due and issuedate

Interested to hear what Diana found out in the | for Catalogers session – Kathryn did a good job twittering the Square Peg/Round Hole OSS v. Proprietary ILS session.  Lunch. hunger. food.