Open values at VALA2018

5 February 2018 by Kathryn Tyree

Around about now I should start emailing you to say, “come and talk to Catalyst about your library technology plans! Visit me at Stand 44 at #Vala2018!” right? Well, yes, but I thought I’d tell you about why the discussions at Vala2018 are interesting and important to us as well.

For a company supporting open source software products like Koha and Islandora it’s exciting (and relieving!) to see open values being acknowledged and discussed as fundamental to the way libraries operate... and I think we must be on to the “doing” part now. We’re interested in being part of the next steps in how libraries explore ways to take those open values, and make them real, in every decision throughout the library – so we want to support open values in the use of technology. The VALA2018 programme is filled with sessions discussing this theme.

I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Deb Verhoeven’s angle on openness and how far she takes it in the closing keynote The Library is Open. Or is it? Other people’s conference talks can be a nice time to reflect on things that have been brewing away in the back of your mind for a while. I’m always secretly hoping people more articulate than me will find words that better express my nebulous ponderings and might help me get to the point faster in future (case in point). I find separating the personal, professional and political is painful (and counterproductive?) so I’m eager to hear what provocations she has for us all.

Naturally, we will plan to catch David Cook’s talk on Koha and Open Data and are especially interested to hear the discussions that bubble out of it. Let's talk about Oslo Public Library, which also serves prisons and hospitals: rather than wait for Bibframe they started using linked open data right away when they implemented Koha Library Management System.

In my library conference dreams, Deborah Galvan’s talk The Revolution Will Not Be Standardized will intersect both David and Deb’s talks. Like Librarianship, being part of a global open source project like Koha involves advocacy, and sometimes activism, in order to respect the requirements of the wider community, and get code into a software release, even for seemingly mundane decisions. So, Deborah’s discussion of the role of library technology and technologists in the minefield of ethics, advocacy and community engagement is exciting to me. I look forward to hearing what she suggests we should resist. Also, if your name does not start with D, apparently I won’t be attending your talk!

All the best with deciding how to spend your time at VALA2018, and I look forward to seeing many of you next week!

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