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Remembering Rosalie Blake


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Three members of the original Koha project team presenting at KohaCon 2020. Rachel Hamilton-Williams, Chris Cormack, Rosalie Blake

It is with great sadness that Catalyst acknowledges the passing of Rosalie Blake.

Rosalie was the Head of Libraries for Horowhenua Trust in 1999 when the Trust realised it needed a new library system. Investigations found systems that were too expensive, or not suitable for the technology available at the libraries. Bravely, Rosalie decided the libraries would commission existing technology partner, Katipo Communications, to write a new system for them. Then she convinced the Trust that when the system was ‘finished’ they should give it away as free/open source software. The Koha library management system exists today in over 18,000 libraries worldwide, largely due to her tenacity and advocacy.

At Kohacon 2020, Rosalie, Rachel Hamilton-Williams (Katipo Communications) and one of the original developers Chris Cormack, came together to present the Koha origin story. There, Rosalie acknowledged that Koha was “rolling along nicely” so gave librarians a new challenge to think about climate action and sustainability.  She also said “What do you do in a library? You should think of the library as the living room of your town...Keep your libraries friendly. Keep friendly yourselves. Do good to each other.”

The Koha Library Management System is only one part of her legacy. She is described as innovative, knowledgeable, bold, enthusiastic, a people-person, a gifted artist and someone who wanted the best for the people both in her local community and in the wider library community.

Rosalie was awarded a LIANZA (Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa) Fellowship in 2008. This is the highest level of professional attainment and is given for outstanding leadership and significant contribution. She received a Queen's Service Medal for her services to the library profession in 2010. This is awarded by the New Zealand Government to recognise outstanding contribution to the community.

Catalyst, in particular the Catalyst Koha team, send their condolences to Rosalie's family and friends.

Tiwhatiwha te pō, tiwhatiwha te ao.

  1. Kohacon20: Keynote - The 1999 Koha Project Team