Saturday, August 27, 2016



As I write this it is Friday night the 27 August and I have been travelling for nearly a week. I flew from Wellington to Sydney last Sunday morning 21st and was hosted by the lovely Bob and Irma Birchall from Calyx Australia.

I had a frantic fortnight before flying out; my kitchen and bathroom are being completely renovated while I am away so decisions, decisions, decisions. I also had the audit and final Annual Report to complete for the Trust. The upshot was that I arrived tired and a bit manic.

Bob and Irma fed me, pampered me, calmed me, gave me 2 nights of glorious sleep-filled bliss and - most importantly - filled me up with lots of Koha talk and helped me focus on the trip ahead. A highlight of my stay was being present when 'the bell' got rung to celebrate the signing of a new client! Anyway I left their little spot of paradise a completely different woman ready for the adventure ahead.

Cool Thing

The night before we left, at the Sydney User Group meeting, I met a lovely librarian called Lesley and she told me about her voluntary work with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders. She helps young adults get their drivers licences, The wins for this project are immense:

  • literacy aspect: learning the road code and sitting the test,
  • financial aspect; avoid incurring fines for driving without a licence,
  • criminal record avoided,
  • social interaction with driving mentors who help with driving practice,
  • public safety: less unlicensed drivers on the roads.

I really love the breadth of work that we librarians get involved in.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Koha-Oz Meetup Sydney Aug 22 2016

5.30pm tonight at the Madison Hotel (upstairs)

52 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills (opposite Central Station).

About me

I worked on the original release of Koha and it is a real pleasure to be touring the world as a Koha ambassador. I recently left Horowhenua Library Trust in New Zealand where I had been the boss for the last 6 years. After raising my 4 children I am ready for  fresh challenges starting with 3 months travelling the globe meeting the Koha community members and talking about Koha and Te Takere, Horowhenua's new library, culture and community centre.

About Koha

Koha, the world's first open source library management system, was developed in 1999 by Horowhenua Library Trust in 1999.“Releasing Koha under an open source licence made so much sense to us; we were a public library not a software development company and we needed a much wider pool of librarians to develop the software further”. Today Koha is one of the world’s most widely used library management systems with a strong development community that provides 24/7 support.

I will be attending the Koha-Oz meetup tonight as a guest of Bob and Irma Birchall of Calyx. 

In addition to my work on Koha, which won the 2000 3M Award for Innovation in Libraries, I was the first librarian outside of USA to be named an American Library Journal Mover and Shaker – Tech Leader, largely for my work developing Kete, another open source project that won the 2008 3M Award for Innovation in Libraries and a 2007 World Summit Awards : Special Mention (North America and Oceania) in the e-inclusion section.

The #kohaworldtour includes Sydney, Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Mumbai, Pune, London, Prague, Olumouc, Vienna, Berlin, Dublin, Norway, Sweden, Marseille, Washington, New York, Vermont, Montreal, Kansas, Oregon and San Francisco.

For further information about the Koha-Oz meetup tonight please contact Irma Birchall,

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Koha World Tour - FINAL Itinerary

The Koha World Tour is on!

The itinerary has been finalised and the flights paid so on the 21st August I will setting off on my trip to visit Koha community members around the world.

I will speaking at user group meetings, attending conferences, visiting a 'go live' Koha site and attending a hack fest - oh and talking with lots and lots of people!

Sadly though, I have not been able to accept all offers of hospitality. Once the draft itinerary had been prepared I realised that I just could not visit everyone and I had to trim the trip back to 3 months and a manageable budget. Reluctantly I had to end the tour at San Francisco which means that Nunavut, Ohio, Chicago, Utah, Texas and Argentina didn't make the final cut.

The final itinerary can be viewed here and it shows who the local hosts are coordinating each leg of the journey.  As details of Koha events come to hand the timeline will be updated.

I extend my sincere thanks to the generous vendors who have made this trip possible. These include the following but there are others whom I havn't picked up on yet as I don't have a good handle on the groups or organisations who are supporting this trip - just the individuals! (I'll add them to the list if someone can give me a poke)

  • Calyx - Australia
  • Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia
  • Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang
  • Open Sistem - Malaysia
  • First Ray Consulting - India
  • Libserve Solutions - India
  • Catalyst - London
  • PTFS Europe - London
  • Interleaf Technologies - Ireland
  • Libriotech - Norway
  • Stockholm University - Sweden
  • Biblibre - France
  • Bywater - USA

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Koha World Tour: Draft Itinerary

I have been overwhelmed by the generosity of the global Koha community and in the space of less than a week we have ourselves a Koha World Tour!

The draft itinerary can be seen online here and it while it does circumnavigate the world it misses out on huge chunks which will have to wait for another time. I can't, in all conscience, take more than 3 months away from the workforce and will have to get a real job at some point!

I have shown the local hosts or contacts for each leg in case people would like to help or host.

I will have 3 topics that I would love to talk about:

  1. The Origins of Koha: why we developed it, why Koha, how it has developed and why it is so jolly special;
  2. The Koha Community: this is why its so special :) Will talk about how the community works and how to get the best out of belonging;
  3. Te Takere: transforming a c1960s library service into a thriving community centre. As leader of this fantastic project it has been a career changing gig and one which has required a whole new approach. With visitor counts rising from 18k a  month to over 40k and reported youth crime down 60% after the first year of opening we were doing something right.

Once I have firmed up a few more leads and checked the feasibility of this from a booking flights point of view I'll post a firm itinerary.

Many thanks - and I can't wait to meet you!

Friday, June 24, 2016

Round the World Koha Speaking Tour

I have found myself with a couple of months on my hands. Now while I could sink into my couch by the fire and read books I am going to try and do something exciting instead: a round the world Koha trip! 

I would love to visit as many countries as I can with strong Koha presences and meet with the people whose names I have seen on mailing lists and who make up the great Koha community. (I have also popped in a few places on  my bucket list: Prague, Vienna and Ireland).

Now what I need are local partners to help make this a viable proposition. I would love to hear from libraries, vendors or individuals who would be willing to ‘host’ me ie accommodation, domestic travel, a bit of hospitality. I don’t need posh – happy to home-stay.
In exchange I would love to speak on Koha origins, Koha community or Te Takere (which is a truly awesome public library / community centre I have developed over the last 4 years) and / or mix and mingle in gatherings. I’m basically happy to sing for my supper in any way that is required!

My draft itinerary is set out below and if anyone is able to help make this happen personally or by passing this email on to someone who can help that would be awesome. I’m so excited at the thought of meeting many of you in this great global Koha family that we have created.

Draft itinerary:

Philippines, Malaysia, India, Saudi Arabia.Turkey, Greece, France, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Sweden, Norway, UK, Ireland, USA, Colombia, Chile, Argentina.  

Friday, October 23, 2015

Clever Fiction

Summer 2013 Rowing Regatta, Clive River.

I looked along the row of parents supporting their offspring and counted 9 of us all reading ‘The Luminaries’ by Eleanor Catton which had recently won the 2013 Man Booker Prize.  A few weeks later, I was discovering that while many people had bought or borrowed the book I knew very few who had finished it – let alone understood or enjoyed it.

The Bone People’ by Keri Hulme, a Booker Prize winner in 1984, suffered the same fate and as a young library assistant I remember dozens of library members returning it unfinished. I read it myself and while I found it ‘so so’ it has always sat in the back of my mind. I reread it a few months ago and wow. I will no doubt read ‘The Luminaries’ again too – because I have to figure out the zodiac references and I completely missed that each chapter was half the length of the previous ones and that’s why I felt ‘rushed’ the closer to the end I got; so interesting!

Good fiction can sometimes feel a bit too ‘clever’ on first reading, making us feel incompetent or dull for not ‘getting it’. I remember reading Mrs Dalloway’ by Virginia Woolf. I struggled through it the first time feeling completely confused because the entire book is written as internal monologues but it skips from one person to another – without telling you whose head you are in! By the time I reached the last page I vividly remember starting straight over again from the front because I’d finally figured out how to read it!

‘The Matriach’ by Witi Ihimaera, Wattie Book of the Year 1986, was another astounding book. It contained huge blocks of text in Italian. I remember feeling so disconcerted and disoriented because I really wanted to know what was happening but I just didn’t understand the language. Well guess what: welcome to the struggles of Maori in the land alienation shenanigans by European settlers and Land Courts. This was such a powerful way to force the reader to empathise with the main characters and their struggle comprehending the whole new ‘language’ of land ownership.

Award winning literature is a funny business. Literary prizes have been awarded since the days of the Greek playwrights and for millennia there have been arguments about what constitutes an award winner. We want awards to be clear markers of excellence but there are no absolute standards for judging aesthetic matters. The criteria for excellence in literature are entirely subjective; It all comes down to personal taste.

The Library has just launched a collection of award winning books for readers to get their teeth into so pop on down to your local library or view online: List: “Award Winners” on

Jo’s pick of interesting ‘new’ Award Winners

Friday, March 15, 2013

Kete Redevelopment Proposal

So pleased to be working with Josh and crew at Rabid on the Kete Redevelopment proposal:

"Today we are very pleased to announce a proposal to rally the community of Kete users to assure the future and walk down a path of improving the usability of Kete, and again make it attractive to the community serviced by our libraries.

The Redevelopment Proposal is the result of discussions with many of the community, and we are now publishing this for discussion. The funding goals seem large, but we believe moderate funding contributions can kick-start a major upgrade. When we deliver Phase One, we will have a modern, well-tested software base to start rolling out features to get you excited about using Kete again.

We have some introductions to make. I am Josh Forde, co-founder of Rabid in Wellington. I have been talking with Joann and Walter since early 2012 about the prospect of working with Kete. We love the values of the project and really see the opportunity to realise the potential of the software. Breccan McLeod-Lundy, technical lead at Rabid has experience developing on the Kete project in previous iterations.

There is one quick request we have to make. Our proposal references research from the UK presented at a recent NDF event. It states that approximately 90% of the archives of value in our communities are actually in private hands, which is a major underpinning value of giving community access to store their repositories in a digital form. We think improving the storage capabilities will be a major driver for users increasingly using Kete, and that they can be placing these assets in trustworthy hands in the libraries. We would love your assistance in sourcing this research, as librarians are not going to abide my lack of citation! The closest discussion I can locate online is here : - but it's not quite the clarity that would help put the value of Kete into perspective.

Aside from that, we need your input and dialogue. I have spent many hours over the past 4 months talking to supporters of Kete and planning out a path for the software's future. But you are the users who understand where you would like this project to go. A successful outcome for us involves us modernising the software, but also activating local software developers in new territories to contribute to an improving system. Ruby on Rails has widespread adoption and significant interest from developers. Again having a robust open source offering is certainly achievable and would reflect well on the New Zealand contributors.

So, over to you... looking forward to your comments.

Cheers Josh

Josh Forde on the Cuba Street Project and Kete from Rabid Technologies on Vimeo.