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Archive for November, 2011


Today I attended the International Conference on Elearning Futures which was hosted by MPOW.

The conference opened with a keynote from Steve Wheeler (@timbuckteeth) who is well known in the elearning world.  His keynote did not disappoint, managing to be inspiring and amusing at the same time.  He had been asked to present on elearning futures – to do a bit of prophet-like horizon gazing for us.

I was interested to hear his reponse to the question of how to keep up with change?  As he points out, we’re (i.e. those of us in the education industry) trying to prepare young people for careers we don’t know exist using a model of education designed for homogenisation born out of the needs of the industrial revolution.

These days, it’s not about “what you know” but about the “how”.  It’s also about making connections, because if you don’t know, you need to ask “who do I connect with who does?”.  Which is where the importance of having a PLN comes into play and the value of distributed cognition.

Steve made some statements about the future of learning, namely that it is

  • social
  • personal
  • augmented
  • non-touch (think gesture based like Wii)

Unfortunately he didn’t quite complete all his slides, but I imagine they’ll be available via his blog shortly.

Other sound bites include:

  • technology is often resisted by people because of worries about threats to their future, because they have vested interests in maintaining the status quo or fear of more work
  • speaking about the importance of maintaining the “gift economy” on the internet and promoting open knowledge, creative commons and so on he made this statement “knowledge is like love, you can give it away and still keep it”

The keynote was followed by a number of parallel sessions in streams following the themes of strategy, pedagogy, technology, technology workshops and languages.

I presented a presentation on the library’s involvement in the institution’s elearning strategy:

http://prezi.com/bin/preziloader.swf

 

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It would be inaccurate for me to say I don’t get angry; it’s just takes a lot for me to really let rip. The following situation makes my blood boil so much that in writing this I am having to be very careful steps not to break a lot of my self imposed rules around rants. Please feel free to add appropriate swear words and angry gesticulations while reading.

Joann from Horowhenua has put out the following call:

Plea for help from Horowhenua Library Trust

Horowhenua Library Trust is the birth place of Koha and the longest serving member of the Koha community. Back in 1999 when we were working on Koha, the idea that 12 years later we would be having to write an email like this never crossed our minds. It is with tremendous sadness that we must write this plea for help to you, the other members of the Koha community.

The situation we find ourselves in, is that after over a year of battling against it, PTFS/Liblime have managed to have their application for a Trademark on Koha in New Zealand accepted. We now have 3 months to object, but to do so involves lawyers and money. We are a small semi rural Library in New Zealand and have no cash spare in our operational budget to afford this, but we do feel it is something we must fight.

For the library that invented Koha to now have to have a legal battle to prevent a US company trademarking the word in NZ seems bizarre, but it is at this point that we find ourselves.

So, we ask you, the users and developers of Koha, from the birth place of Koha, please if you can help in anyway, let us know.

For those of you who don’t know [which can’t be many] the background, in the late nineties the Horowhenua Library Trust decided not to go down the traditional path of changing their LMS and developed open-source product called Koha. This was given to the world and is now used widely internationally. A few years ago a company in the US called PTFS/Liblime attempted to hijack Koha and turn it into their proprietary LMS. They have also sort sought to claim ownership of the name Koha.

Sadly it looks like they are going to be successful. Now we have the ridiculous situation that they will deny the very people who originally developed Koha the right to use that name. What is even more stupid is that the Maori Advisory Board to the Trademarks people has approved this. Yep, they are happy to give a Te Reo term to a US company as a trademark.

UPDATE: Your can donate to HLT’s legal funds here. Link removed as no longer seeking funds.

UPDATE 2: You can also send cheques to Horowhenua Library Trust, 10 Bath St, Levin. re: Koha Trademark Fund..  See above.

UPDATE 3: This will be featured on Radio NZ tomorrow.

UPDATE 4: Liblime response;

PTFS/LibLime Granted Provisional Use of Koha Trademark in New Zealand

News

Bethesda, MD – November 23, 2011 PTFS/LibLime, a provider of software and service solution to libraries, has been granted provisional use of a trademark for the use of the term Koha as it applies to Integrated Library Software (ILS) in New Zealand.

When PTFS/LibLime purchased LibLime in March, 2010, one of the assets acquired was the trademark on the term Koha as it applies to ILS software in the United States. PTFS/LibLime has held that trademark in trust, purposefully choosing not to enforce it in order to insure that no individual, organization, or company would be prohibited from promoting their services around Koha in the United States.

Another one of the assets acquired in the purchase of LibLime was an application for the trademark of the term Koha as it applies to ILS software in New Zealand. That application has now been accepted. PTFS/LibLime will hold that trademark in trust as well, and will not enforce it in order to insure that no individual, organization, or company will be prohibited from promoting their services around Koha in New Zealand.

PTFS/LibLime is prepared to transfer the trademark to a non-profit Koha Foundation with the provision that the Foundation hold the trademark in trust and not enforce it against any individual, organization, or company who chooses to promote services around Koha in New Zealand. PTFS/LibLime encourages a direct dialog with Koha stakeholders to determine an equitable solution for the disposition of the trademark that serves the best interests of the libraries who use Koha.

About Koha Koha is an open development ILS application first conceived in the late 1990’s in New Zealand. In the twelve years that the source code has been available, the application has been enhanced by hundreds of individuals, organizations, libraries, and companies around the world. With all of this enhancement, much of it in the last five years, the application has evolved into a fully-functional ILS capable of supporting most of the workflow needs of a library. The Koha software is owned by no company and various versions of the application are freely available to libraries throughout the world.

About PTFS/LibLime PTFS is an industry leader in content and knowledge management solutions, deploying its ArchivalWare digital content management system to institutions throughout the commercial and government sectors. Founded in 1995, PTFS provides software and service solutions to libraries through the LibLime Division, and offers complete content conversion solutions from analog to digital. PTFS also specializes in meeting library personnel staffing requirements and metadata keying services. For more information, contact us at http://liblime.com or http://ptfs.com or http://archivalware.net

UPDATE 5: Joann posted this update;

Update on NZ Koha trademark.

Who would have thought that one little blog post on a Tuesday morning would have generated so much interest and debate and support.

Horowhenua Library Trust have been bowled over by the generosity of a global community who are as concerned as we are at the PTFS New Zealand trade application to register the mark Koha in relation to software.

We have received hundreds of emails offering support for fighting the ‘good fight’. I haven’t quite replied to them all yet – but I am trying . The press have provided balanced coverage with Radio NZ, TV1 and TV3 all reporting the story pretty accurately here, generating much discussion in Maori and mainstream media forums.

We have accumulated donations of about $12k, mostly through $20 and $50 donations from individuals around the globe (including many Americans) and the generosity of the legal profession offering free representation is amazing.

We have accepted the services of Sacha Judd, Andrew Matangi & John Glengarry from Buddle Findlay, assisted by Rochelle Furneaux, who have agreed to work pro-bono for us (bless them all I say). They have been guiding us for the last few days and are busy preparing a objection to the PTFS / Liblime application should one be necessary.

We believe we are well placed now to mount a strong legal challenge and we think we have enough in donations to cover filing fees, document costs and other disbursements. While It goes completely against my nature to turn down donations to Horowhenua Library Trust, in all conscience we should stop the fundraising drive at this stage. Rest assured if is necessary to challenge the PTFS application all the way to the High Court then we may well be coming back cap in hand!

PTFS have issued a press release saying they are willing to hand the NZ Koha trademark over to a non-profit representing the Koha community. That organisation is the Horowhenua Library Trust, elected by the Koha global community, and we would be delighted to accept that offer and add the NZ Koha trademark to the store of other Koha community property we currently hold in trust ie domain names and trademarks. It would be a very simple matter for PTFS to assign the existing application to Horowhenua Library Trust and we invite PTFS to do so. The Library Trust has never stopped any Koha user or developer or vendor from carrying out their business. Our track record over the last 12 years of releasing the Koha code and supporting the Koha community to go about its business unimpeded is exemplary and we have no intention of ever changing that approach.

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One of the really good things of my job is when we get to push new collections onto the NZETC. So here is a little plug promoting some of our new resources.

Three new collections on Elsdon Best, student media and Antarctic research

We are very pleased to announce three new collections:

Elsdon Best is widely known for his work as an ethnographer writing about Māori life and culture. This collection contains 15 of his works ranging from Māori Agriculture to Religion and the Māori concept of time. Some of Best’s works were originally published by the Dominion Museum, where Best was employed, as a part of the Dominion Museum Bulletin series.

The Hilltop Literary Paper is the first publication in our student magazine collection. Hilltop contains works from some well known New Zealand authors such as James K. Baxter and Charles Brasch. We also plan to make available:

  • The Spike
  • Arachne
  • SMAD

These magazines discuss student life from 1902 through to the 1950’s and cover important events and activities throughout each trimester, for example: capping ceremonies and social and sports events. Student reaction to world wide events, such as the world wars, is also discussed.

For over 50 years Victoria University of Wellington has been sending research expeditions to the Antarctic. The outcomes of these expeditions form the Victoria University of Wellington Antarctic Expedition (VUWAE) Reports collection. The aims of the expeditions were to research many aspects of the Antarctic environment including geology, glaciology, meteorology and biology.

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Currently I am in Melbourne at eResearch Australasia which has been really interesting. I am hearing a lot about data and data management.

One of the things that I have been thinking, and please excuse the brain dump, is that rather than having an IR (Institutional repository) we should have complete DDMS (document data management system) that informs and guides the whole research process.

I see it helping the researcher tracking their research through the whole process and then enabling them to “publish” not only the end result but the research and data at various stages.

It’s something I need to think more on.

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Day three began with a great keynote from Michael Houlihan, CEO of Te Papa.  I was looking forward to this one because I do love what Te Papa do with their social media presence and engaging with their public.  Houlihan suggests that now Te Papa is a “spotty adolescent” there are questions that should be addressed to move the institution forward in the next 10 years to maturity.  These are good questions to ask ourselves too.

  1. Who are you here for? Why are you here? Where to invest? What to invest in that will help the place run as a business so people’s visits are comfortable (Te Papa has to keep the toilet rolls coming in)!
  2. Are we transformational? The impact we have on our audience is really important.  This was a theme that came through in this conference and is a good one to look at although, in some places can be difficult to measure and report on.
  3. Are we being a forum for the future –  how do we interact with events and public interests?
  4. Have you got an issue to focus on? E.g. Te Papa are looking at sustainability, environmental issues
  5. Treasuring the treasures? For example, where do we go for the history of science and technology in New Zealand?  It’s not just about arts.
  6. Connecting with people? Are we doing this and focusing on the learning outcomes?  Museum collections are becoming more about individual’s stories and less impersonal.  Houlihan illustrated this in an effective way by passing around “a piece of rubbish”.  At the end of the presentation he expanded on this item which turned out to be a part of a boot heel from a Welsh soldier he had picked up from the field of battle at Mametz Wood.  He showed a photo of the memorial at the battle field and described the carnage that occurred.  (As it happened, I was holding the boot heel at the time it was so poignant).  As Houlihan said, we were touching history.
  7. Are we sharing authority? With iwi, with our clients, online and IRL.
  8. Going digital? There are always a lot of ideas on how and what to do with this, but not so much input about the how.
  9. Are we keeping fit? Are we a learning organisation?
  10. Are we staying touch? Are we keeping people involved?
  11. Getting down to business and providing value for money?
  12. Telling your story? There are people and venues where our voice needs to be heard.  Are we actually doing that?  Where is our political voice?
  13. Are we building sustainable leadership? Where are the leaders of tomorrow for our institutions?  Houlihan sees this as a real issue in New Zealand and others at conference agree.

Houlihan says libraries and museums unlock a world of information and provide context – we should never loose sight of that.

After morning tea I attended Cherie Tautolo’s session “Tai Tokerau taniwha rau: empowering students to achieve” where she illustrated what she has been doing in in Whangarei to support the students there.  The student population there is almost an even split between Māori and non-Māori. Cherie has made physical changes to her space to improve the wairua of the library so students feel more comfortable there.  She advocates creating a sense of familiarity and providing a mix of spaces within a library.  For example, areas that allow discussion and noise are appreciated by Māori who find the idea of a “silent” space off putting.  I would comment that we find many students of all kinds of cultures are the same – group work and discussion areas are heavily used at MPOW.  Much of what Cherie passed on is good customer relations practice – make connections (personal as well) with your students, know their names and so on.  This is easier to do at smaller campuses, but it is possible to do this also at larger places.  As with all populations, building relationships with users is always fruitful.  Cherie also participates in campus events which facilitates relationships too. Cherie referred to a survey that found one of the major reasons Māori feel uncomfortable is the lack of Māori staff and students there.  Normalising the presence of Māori in the library will assist to make the place more inviting.

I also attended a workshop on Empowering users, empowering libraries: interactive user interaction, activities and games that work and a research session More than a quiz.  Both these sessions were more affirming than informative for me, but I am still glad of the affirmation!  Sometimes it helps to know that we’re doing stuff the same as other libraries.

Andrew Booth’s presentation pimped the importance of evidence-based library and information practice (EBLIP).  This is something I’ve heard before but I appreciated his highlighting some of the biases and myths we perpetuate in the profession.  For example, myth number 2: the librarian always knows best or The Divine Right of Librarians. This is something I’m always saying – we have to be very careful about thinking we know what our users want.  Booth says librarians have two primary cognitive bias:

1) status quo – the tendency to like things to stay relatively the same

2) deformation professionalle – a tendency to look at things from the point of view of one’s own profession rather than from a broader perspective

Booth posits (somewhat tongue in cheek) that if we’re not practicing EBLIP we may be performing some of these alternative practices (Isaacs & Fitzgerald, 1999)

  • Eminence based library and information practice
  • Vehemence based library and information practice
  • Eloquence based library and information practice
  • Providence based library and information practice
  • Diffidence based library and information practice

The conference dinner was a blast – pictures here.

Day Four began with Jenica Rogers presenting a motivational keynote advocating project managing your dreams.  She had many good things to say – but Deborah has ably summarized it better than I, so I’m going to defer to her on this one.  One thing that did resonate with me was her final commentary pointing out that farmers everywhere in the world always say “it hasn’t been a good year”, but they still keep farming anyway.  It’s easy to look at all the obstacles and difficulties that we face and feel daunted by it all.  But it’s never been a good year for libraries so we should just suck it up, get over it and get on with it.

As Lianza11 ends, the conference convenors for Lianza12 take over the reins for next in Palmerston North, 23rd-26 Sept with the overarching theme of Ipukarea (which refers to our ancestral homeland, a place that representing our history and a place to go for rejuvenation) plus additional themes of celebrate, sustain, and transform.

Overall, for me the conference was more about affirmation than anything new and exciting.  I’m glad I went because it has given me an opportunity to present a couple of posters and reflect a little on where I am and where I want to go.

Isaacs, D. & Fitzgerald, D. (1999). Seven alternatives to evidence based medicine. British Medical Journal. 319 (1618). Retrieved from http://www.bmj.com

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LIANZA11 Day Two


Day two of LIANZA11 started off well with Bill MacNaught’s address (available here now).  Much what he said was uplifting and it was good to hear of the plans of the National Library.

Keynote speaker Aroha Mead gave a useful overview of the WAI-262 Taonga Claim, something that I knew very little about but which I was interested to hear.  I was particularly interested in hearing about the potential recommendations from the tribunal with respect to kaitiaki and digital taonga.  I recently attended a presentation by my colleague Michelle Lee at MPOW who has been part of launching a Virtual Pā for her tribe who spoke about the rational behind her use of Ning and how the layers of access visitors have to parts of the Virtual Pā reflects the tikanga of face to face interactions.

Other sessions I attended this day weren’t what I expected them to be I’m afraid.  I was tossing up between several sessions and always seemed to pick the one that wasn’t so interesting (for me)!  But you get that with conferences. 🙂

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