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KohaCon 2023 Day One Highlights


Catalyst Koha team attend KohaCon 2023 in Helsinki

This year, KohaCon is being hosted in Helsinki, Finland. And, the event is off to a great start! KohaCon 2023 is a combined showcase of Koha and Perl. The reason being that Koha is primarily written in the Perl programming language. Additionally, Koha is now one of the world’s largest Perl systems. Our expert Catalyst Koha team are joining this year and sharing the highlights each day. So, if you didn’t manage to make it to Helsinki, keep tuned for daily coverage from our team Chris Cormack and Alex Buckley.

Meet Alex and Chris

Chris Cormack and I, Alex Buckley, have been supporting our partner libraries to get the most out of Koha for a number of years. In fact, whilst my role is a Developer in the Catalyst Koha team, Chris is one of the original developers of the Koha project. And, one of the things we enjoy the most is seeing how Koha has evolved, and is still evolving for libraries globally. It’s equally fantastic to meet Koha users and our clients at the conference.

And, given the conference is in Helsinki....I obviously had to squeezer in a bit of sight-seeing ahead of the event. So, after arriving mid-day on Sunday I went on a 5-hour bike, BBQ and sauna tour. Helsinki really is a beautiful, very green and definitely a park-filled city.

Old buildings in Helsinki

Some highlights from today that stand out to me are:

KohaCon 2023: Day One Highlights

Here are my highlights from KohaCon 2023, day one:

1. Katrin Fischer - Gifting Back

Katrin Fischer, long standing QA manager for Koha, hosted a talk detailing ‘how to bring your Koha to Koha’. In other words, how anyone, not just developers, can give back to the Koha community. After all, Koha means a reciprocal gift in Te Reo Māori.

Katrin discussed how gifting can be done via working through:

  • Koha documentation: For example, writing and reviewing content for the Koha manual, or fixing typos and grammar.
  • Translations: A big job given the size of Koha! But, as Katrin said as you do your bit in translating, it also becomes easier for everyone after you.

A real stand-out from this talk was that Katrin could only recommend being part of the community: You give something back. and the community gives you something much more in return. So true.

Katrin also reminded the attendees to be unafraid of using Bugzilla, the Koha bug tracking platform. Essentially, Bugzilla is a system where anyone can:

  • Create an account.
  • File bug reports (a page describing a problem that needs fixing, or requesting a new feature).
  • Submit code.

But, there might be hesitation for users – “what if someone has already submitted the bug?” But, basically, nothing can go wrong. For example, if you do report a bug that is already logged, a member of the friendly Koha community will let you know. Then, you would be able to switch to using the existing bug report instead.

2. National Library Of Finland Take The Koha Stage

The second highlight for me were the two talks from staff at National Library of Finland. Sometimes, there is a false misconception that Koha isn’t suitable for a large library. So, these two talks set the record straight.

Inkeri Hakulinen, Information Specialist at the National Library of Finland, covered how the National Library has one of the largest known Koha collections. It includes a staggering 3.78 million bibliographic records, 2.3 million holdings records, and 2.3 million item records!

And, even though they are held in one physical building they use Koha in a unique way. Essentially they create different library branches for each room in the library. In contrast, it’s more typical for Koha libraries to create a different branch for each separate physical building in their library. For example a different branch for each town or suburb.

But, the rationale for separate branches for each room was to enable easier rule definition for managing how resources within those rooms would be made available - a super innovative approach.

Inkeri Hakulinen from the National Library of Finland speaking on the huge Koha database that their Koha instance has.

The day concluded with a reception at the main hall of National Library of Finland - a beautiful 1830’s library with very nice Finnish accordion music and singing. Plus, I got to the chance to meet other members in the Koha community that I have communicated with over email and chat for years. Stay tuned for the highlights from day two!