by Tosca Waerea
In October 2019, Tonga opened its first-ever public library in the village of Kolovai. When Catalyst representatives met the woman behind this project, they were very happy to sponsor Kolovai Library Tonga through a hosted Koha installation free of charge for the next five years.
When Tonga experienced its worst storm in years due to Cyclone Gita, Kahoa and Brendon Corbett saw that schools were in need of books. This inspired their effort to source, collect and ship books across to Kolovai.
On one of their trips home to Tonga, Kahoa noticed an unused fale in the village and took the opportunity to ask about using it for a library. They were able to send their first shipment to Tonga in May 2018 thanks to the assistance of their local New Zealand library. Since then, the library collection has grown to include over 20,000 items and has received donations in the form of laptops, bikes for hire, paint, and hands-on help from members of the local community.
Kahoa notes, “It was a tough job collecting books in the last 19 months, juggling with helping babysit our six mokopuna, and working full time, but I was so determined to make it happen - to have the library started and up and running for the community.”
With plans to meet with government officials, Kahoa is already looking to extend library services to Nuku’alofa next year with a second branch. “We already have enough books shipped over and they are currently stored in our family home.”
Kathryn Tyree, Project and Account Manager at Catalyst, met Kahoa Corbett at the 2019 LIANZA conference in Manukau. Inspired by Kahoa’s drive, they discussed the suitability of Koha as the library management system to support the volunteer-led effort to bring public library services to Tonga. Kathryn notes, “I am so thrilled we could do this for their project. I have so much admiration for what they have achieved.”
Kolovai Library Tonga is accepting donations. All received funds will contribute to the ongoing development and maintenance of collections and building.
Bank account name: Kolovai Community Public Library
Bank account number: 38-9020-074059-00
Kolovai, population of approximately 4,267 people, is a village on the Tongan island of Tongatapu. Situated approximately 18km west of Nuku’alofa, Kolovai is home to a colony of flying foxes, the traditional lakalaka dance of Tonga, and the koka tree which is said to be where Tu’i Kanokupolu title (recognised ruler) would be conferred.
The Koha community supports free and open source library management software for approximately 15,000 libraries worldwide and has been translated to more than 40 languages, including, te reo Māori. Catalyst IT have a dedicated Koha team who implement and support Koha for libraries in Aotearoa, and contribute their expertise to the global Koha community project and development team.
Catalyst is a New Zealand owned and operated company where openness, long term relationships, community and diversity are essential characteristics of how we do business. Since 1997, Catalyst has been enabling success with expert open source solutions, and clients all over the world trust us with their mission-critical systems.