Keeping up with Kohacon20 - Episode 5: Days 3 and 4 Recap

by Aleisha Amohia and Tosca Waerea

Kohacon is the annual international conference of the Koha software community, and in 2020, is being hosted in Wellington, New Zealand. Day 3 is the final day of the ‘conference’ portion of Kohacon20, followed by Day 4, Cultural Day. We were excited to get into Day 3 on 20 October 2020 at the Tiakiwai Conference Centre of National Library of New Zealand.

We started the day with Julius Serrano, whose presentation about accessibility was delivered in a very approachable and understandable way. He demonstrated how libraries can make their websites more inclusive and easier to use with very practical examples and a range of resources that will be helpful for anyone in the tech industry designing products and services for people. Julius’ outstanding keynote is a recommended watch for librarians everywhere.

Next, we heard from Rebekka Pilppula from Turku City Library in Finland. Her inspiring presentation provided a more detailed look at why Finland’s public libraries, with approximately 5,000 visitors a day and an exceptionally high customer satisfaction rate, are so important to their communities.

Just before morning tea, Jacinta Osman and Lee Rowe donned superlibrarian Koha capes and spoke compellingly about their Koha migration, an early part of which included having students evaluate different library management systems. Jacinta and Lee shared what had been their overall vision, and their framework for planning a project successfully to help them stay on track with what was truly important.

Jacinta, Lee, and Chris posing wearing capes

Next, we moved into a presentation from Ian Beardslee discussing the Catalyst Academy, an initiative designed to provide training and work experience for young technologists. We are so thrilled that Ian was able to deliver this talk, every year we have a Koha project that the community knows about. We hope that the community gets inspired by this story and that we see Koha academies popping up all over the world!

Lisette Scheer provided an update on Koha-US activities since Portland Kohacon 218. They’re up to some amazing things such as holding summits, running special interest groups (https://koha-us.org/special-interest-groups/), holding conferences, and providing a range of learning resources.

Before breaking for lunch, Fred King (and the Avenging Chicken) provided a fun, engaging, and pragmatic talk demonstrating how to install and run Koha on a Raspberry Pi. Fred showed how implementing Koha does not need to be challenging, and that anyone can do it regardless of tech experience.

Next, David Nind spoke briefly about Wikidata, including how this can be useful for libraries. David also added a very fun live demonstration of adding a public library to Wikidata.

Then we heard from Kelly McElligott and Jessie Zairo who shared the origin story of Monday Minutes, a successful video tutorial series which was created as a way of continuing to educate Koha users and to show them how to give back to the community.

Our last speaker for the day, Farasat Shafi Ullah, discussed the factors, challenges, and opportunities of Pakistan librarians faced during their Koha implementation experience. This presentation provided a fascinating insight into their journey.

For the first time ever, Kohacon held its inaugural award ceremony and acknowledged some of the amazing work of its community:

  • Outstanding effort to share knowledge about Koha with a global audience – North-Eastern Hill University, Shillong
  • Longest tenure as an elected release team member – Katrin Fischer
  • Greatest overall community contribution by a volunteer - David Nind
  • Greatest number of patches by an individual for 2020 – Jonathan Druart
  • Greatest number of sign-offs by an individual for 2020 – Martin Renvoize
  • Outstanding commitment to free and inclusive library practices – IHC New Zealand
  • Outstanding contribution to Koha education and documentation – ByWater Solutions
  • In recognition of the long-lasting impact of your contribution to the Koha project – JoAnn Ransom, Rosalie Blake, Rachel Hamilton-Williams, and Chris Cormack
  • Lifetime community membership – Irma Birchall and Bob Birchall

Day 3 was full of inspirational, educational, and thought-provoking talks. We are constantly finding ways to make the experience better for all of our attendees, both national and international. We hope you’re enjoying the conference as much as we are!

If you weren't able to follow us live, the full Day 3 livestream is available on YouTube, with timestamps in the description to easily skip to your favourite presentations.

Official photos from Day 3 are available on Flickr.

Cultural Day

For the Kohacon20 Culture Day, Parliamentary Library staff organised a private tour of Parliament for Kohacon attendees. This highly informative field trip included visiting an interesting selection of rooms, fun facts about former prime ministers and politicians, a historical overview of the various buildings, and the most beautiful artwork. So beautiful that they require another separate visit of their own.

Afterwards, Parliamentary Library staff Bridgit Siddall and Gaby O’Meara gave us an in-depth behind the scenes look at their beautiful workspace and incredible collections.

It was a great way to spend the day together.

Official photos from Day 4 are available on Flickr.

Rachel, Alex, Filip, and Hayley at Parliament

There is still time to register and participate in the rest of this week-long conference.

The programme for the Friday workshops is available on the conference website. We hope you can join us!