ROSE Blog Interviews: Sharon Moreland, Technology Consultant at the Northeast Kansas Library System
ROSE Blog: Rikki's Open Source Exchange
In this interview, Sharon Moreland explains a few ways libraries in Kansas are using open source.
Q: Who are you?
A: Sharon Moreland. Technology Consultant at the Northeast Kansas Library System. I work closely with the NExpress Shared Catalog team to migrate public libraries into the Koha automated catalog, as well as to troubleshoot and maintain the catalog. Prior to coming to the Library System, I was a small town public library director.
Q: What do you currently do in open source? What do you love about it?
A: At NEKLS, we administer a statewide project, My Kansas Library on the Web, that uses WordPress to provide small- and medium-sized libraries with professional-looking websites. I also serve as chair for the statewide Kanguard Internet filtering program that uses the open source SquidGuard program. Finally, we migrated the NExpress Shared Catalog from the Sirsi Integrated Library System to Koha in August 2008 and by early 2010 we will have more than 30 libraries participating.
WordPress has a very robust community, with extensive documentation and training materials available, as well as an aggressive upgrade cycle that responds almost immediately to any problems or bugs found in the software. Everything in open source is created by members of the community, for other members of the community. Some projects, like Mozilla Firefox, are huge, while others are quite small, as with Koha. Given its small size, we are able to be more active in the Koha community, thanks in part to meeting many of the key players at the 2009 KohaCon in Plano, Texas.
Here at NEKLS, we can thank our System Administrator, Liz Rea, for slowly introducing us to most of these open source solutions and since we met everyone at KohaCon, she has gone on to become a Koha Committer, providing code to the project. The sense of community and cooperation has been affirming, especially as the open source philosophy fits so well with the librarianship.
Q: You're speaking to a group of women from other fields who are considering switching careers. Why should they consider moving into an open source-related career? What should they know about the open source environment to prepare them for the transition from a different field?
A: As a creative problem solver, I love the challenge of making an open source solution better by suggesting ideas to the community, pin-pointing issues with the program, or better yet – learning to write the code needed to create the change you want to see. Koha is a smaller community, so we see a great impact. WordPress is a much larger community, but the product is excellent and people are able to create consulting businesses around supporting and training on the project. With any open source project, change is the only constant. If the community is doing its job, the project is in a continuous state of flux, improvement, enhancement, and redesign. Anyone working with an open source project will need to be flexible and willing to embrace rapid change.
Q: You're speaking to a group of high school students (male and female). Why should they consider exploring career options in open source?
A: Many new business have sprung up around open source projects, such as Koha. There are several vendors that grew from the need to support and develop new code for libraries using Koha, such as LibLime and ByWater Solutions. A career in open source would be a carer with unlimited potential. Learn a few programming languages, like PERL, and the sky's the limit.
If you are a woman in open source, I'd love it if you'd take a moment to answer these interview questions and send your responses to me at rkite AT linuxpromagazine DOT com. If you'd like me to interview a particular woman in open source, drop me a line and let me know who she is and where to find her.
yay, liberries!More and more libraries are seeing their budgets slashed or worse (Philly, as a horrific example). Moves to open source software can save lots of money and help show the city funders that there's a commitment to reducing cost as much as possible.
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