by Aleisha Amohia
Kohacon is the annual international conference of the Koha software community, and in 2020, is being hosted in Wellington, New Zealand. Kohacon20 kicked off bright and early on 19 October 2020, at Tiakiwai Conference Centre of National Library of New Zealand.
Chris Cormack, one of the original Koha developers, welcomed our attendees and presenters with a mihi whakatau, assisted by the Kohacon20 Organising Committee.
The Conference began with two keynote speakers. Our first keynote speaker was Te Kahu Rolleston, who describes himself as a wordsmith and jester. Te Kahu was followed by Anahera Morehu, President of the Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa (LIANZA). We purposefully put Te Kahu and Anahera at the start of the Conference to give visitors to New Zealand (and our international friends watching online) a taste of Māori history, culture, and language. Māori are the Indigenous peoples of Aotearoa New Zealand, and the name 'Koha' is a Māori word, meaning 'gift'.
After a quick break for morning tea and indulging in some delicious Scrummy Scrolls, we moved into the middle section of Kohacon20 Day 1. Our three speakers in this section all come from organisations that have had amazing achievements with Koha.
The first was Lisette Scheer, sharing some great jQuery tips and tricks that the Valnet consortium uses to customise a variety of Koha pages to fit customer needs. The Valnet consortium consists of 46 individual libraries, across 15 hierarchical groups!
Second up, we had William Tuttiet, the Digital Library Coordinator at Horowhenua District Council. It was wonderful to hear about William's journey with Koha, and see how the very first Koha library EVER is continuing to innovate and do cool things, 21 years later.
The third talk was by Mengü Yazıcıoğlu, CEO of Devinim, which runs the single largest Koha installation in the world, made up of 1,126 libraries in Turkey! Having already achieved that incredible milestone, Mengü talked about his next project of expanding even bigger.
After a long lunch break to give in-person attendees a chance to venture into the capital city and explore the local bar, restaurants, and cafés, we began our afternoon session of talks.
David Nind, known for his huge contribution to Koha as a co-leader of the documentation team, told us about his vision for the future of documentation within Koha and how we can all participate.
Then, Jessie Zairo and Adam Brooks put forward some ideas on how a sales perspective of Koha, or an understanding of a library's requirements when they're looking at changing systems, can help to market Koha to the wider library sector.
Finally, after one last break for scrolls and coffee, we heard from Joy Nelson, who talked about creative problem solving. We really enjoyed how Joy emphasised that we can all bring different strengths and skills to a team.
A huge thank you to our speakers for Day 1. This year's pandemic meant formatting Kohacon a bit differently, so we hugely appreciate everyone's patience and enthusiasm for getting involved.
There were some technical timing difficulties in the livestream to start but we believe we smoothed these out in the second half of the day. If you weren't able to follow us live, the full Day 1 livestream is available now on YouTube, with timestamps in the description to easily skip to your favourite presentations.
Official photos from Day 1 are available on Flickr.
There is still time to register and participate in the rest of this week-long conference.
The programme and livestream link for Day 2 are available on the conference website. We hope you can join us!