Meet the Open Source Team: Spotlight on Ben Shum

Ben Shum is Bibliomation’s Open Source Software Coordinator.

Question: You began working at Bibliomation this past summer. How were you found for this position? What have been your job responsibilities since you joined the Bibliomation staff?

Answer: The company, PTFS, placed an ad on behalf of Bibliomation. They were looking for someone with computer/open source software development experience and I had three of the twelve skills listed – Java script, HTML, and Linux experience. I submitted my application on a Thursday, I was called by PTFS on the following Friday, and by that Monday I was being interviewed by Bibliomation. It all happened rather fast. I should also tell you that I was very excited at the prospect of working at Bibliomation. In one of my MLS classes, Foundations in Librarianship, my professor, Dr. Lisa Forman, spoke of Bibliomation’s recent investigation of open source library systems. Immediately after I was hired, PTFS sent me to the Evergreen conference in Georgia.

I’ve been doing all things open source-related since I was hired by Bibliomation.

Question: What kind of work have you been collaborating with Melissa on with regard to the Bibliomation Evergreen test server?

Answer: I put together the test server — I installed the operating system and the Evergreen software by the second day on the job. I then concentrated on learning the in’s and out’s of the system. The bugs that I found in version 1.4, I reported to the Evergreen community through the Evergreen IRC chat, and that was my entree into the community itself. They would let me know that the bug was already reported. I also became acquainted with the Evergreen email lists, their dokuwiki pages, and the change logs.

Question: What is your educational background?

Answer: I received my Bachelors of Science in Computer Systems Administration from Andrews University in Michigan in 2008. I’m now in my second year of Southern CT State University’s MLS program.

Question: How did you select Library Science?

Answer: It was a lunch with a librarian when I was still an undergrad. It sounded like something I’d want to do – I’ve always liked the information aspects of computers, always liked documentation. In high school, I worked in the registrar’s office and helped with records management. I’m good at most of the steps in the software development cycle – planning, designing, documenting, coding, testing, and maintenance.

Question: What do you like most about Evergreen?

Answer: I like that it’s open source, that you can see what you can change. An open-source ILS is not free in the sense of price or efforts. It still requires tremendous thought and preparation. In the end, the product of hard work will belong to us, not a vendor or others. But “us” is not merely the few of “us” here, but the whole community. It is a contribution for the whole, enriching us all.

Question: What do you like to do in your free time?

Answer: I like spending time with my family and friends. Work and school make up my life these days. I enjoy listening to music, especially movie and television soundtracks. Jerry Goldsmith is one of my favorite composers. He did the scores for Star Trek and Air Force One. I also like to play with Ubuntu Linux when I have a free moment.

Ben Shum can be reached at bshumATbiblioDOTorg.
Amy Terlaga, Assistant Director, User Services, and Open Source Team interviewer, can be reached at terlagaATbiblioDOTorg.

Open Source — Growing Interest among CT Libraries

This morning I attended the University of Hartford‘s presentation on their July 14th migration to LibLime‘s Enterprise Koha. Ben Ide, Tech Services Librarian for their library, explained why they made the move to open source and how their migration went – what went well, what didn’t, and what still needs to happen to make Koha function well for them. (They’re still waiting on course reserves, the importing of authorities, the acquisitions module called GetIt, browsing, and music searches so that their music librarians are able to pull up all records in their collection related to their search.) The University of Hartford had partnered with WALDO so that they could pool their financial and staff resources in a cooperative arrangement that will help them finance further software enhancements.

There were a number of librarians from stand-alone systems at this University of Hartford presentation. When I explained to the group Bibliomation’s plans to migrate to Evergreen within the next two years and that we’d be open to hosting other libraries on our servers, this seemed to pique the interest of at least a few members of the group. Nate Curulla, Director of Marketing for the open source support vendor, ByWater Solutions, was there to answer anyone’s questions about the kind of training and support models they can provide interested libraries. Chris Bradley, from the CT Library Consortium, was also there; she would like to explore some kind of an open source support partnership with Bibliomation somewhere down the road.

We are living in interesting times!

Amy Terlaga
Assistant Director, User Services

Conversation with Catherine Lemmer of the Indiana State Library

Earlier today I had a chance to talk with Catherine Lemmer, the Project Manager of the Indiana State Library’s Evergreen migration.

By the end of November, Indiana, with the help of Equinox, will have migrated 48 of their libraries over to Evergreen. Twelve of these libraries had non-standard item barcodes. Indiana used ITG’s Scan & Print system to generate 14 digit barcodes from these non-standard ones. They did this with a software program written by ITG that pads each item barcode with a five-digit unique prefix for each library and additional zeroes for padding to get to those 14 digits.

Indiana used 20 printers that generated these new item barcodes when scanned. Catherine claims that it is so easy to use ITG’s Scan & Print system that everyone from high school volunteers to the octogenarian set can do it. They’ve barcoded items from 30,000 to as many as 160,000 in a library collection. They even barcoded as many as 35,000 items in one weekend with 7 printers going simultaneously.

Towards the end of our conversation, Catherine suggested that I talk to the folks at the North Texas Library Consortium who have also migrated to Evergreen. They also used ITG’s Scan & Print System and might have additional insights and suggestions for me.

I’ll close by saying that it was a real pleasure talking with Catherine. She and I agreed to stay in touch as Indiana may be migrating 4 schools to Evergreen as a pilot project. Bibliomation has 20 K-12 schools and we would be interested in their findings.

Amy Terlaga
Assistant Director, User Services

BibliOak – A Bibliomation Open Source Project

We have come up with a name for our developmental partner project — BibliOak. It’s very catchy, isn’t it? (The oak is the state tree of Connecticut.) We have a graphic designer working on the logo for us and it should be ready for prime time very soon.

We also had a “planning to plan” conference call with the folks at Equinox last Friday. We might be able to bring all four developmental partner libraries up at the same time with a possible target date of mid-February 2010. Melissa Lefebvre, our Open Source Project Manager, will develop the time line to see if we can make ends meet.

During the phone call with Equinox, we learned of a good way for our developmental partner libraries to re-barcode their collections. (Currently, the three automated libraries have non-standard barcodes and the potential for duplication is too great for them to go into the system as is.) Shae Tetterton, of Equinox, explained to us Indiana’s use of ITG’s Scan & Print system, a device that adds a unique library identifier to the existing item barcode upon checkout. The Scan & Print system then prints out an item barcode label, ready to slap right over the old item barcode onto the book itself! I hope to talk to someone at Indiana shortly to learn more about their use of this ITG Scan & Print system.

More information to follow ….

Amy Terlaga
Assistant Director, User Services

Evergreen Demonstration, Massachusetts Network Meeting

The following is excerpted from a Connecticut Library Consortium (CLC) email listserv posting, made earlier this afternoon:

Friday, December 11, 2009
How’s It Going?: An Inside Look at Bibliomation’s Migration to Evergreen 9:30 coffee, 10:00-noon meeting Middlebury PL
Online Registration coming soon at

Just 18 months ago Bibliomation’s Planning Committee, Board of Directors, and User Council made the decision to move in the direction of Open Source. Now they have decided to establish Evergreen as the preferred migration path of the network’s Integrated Library System, supported by Equinox.

Bibliomation’s staff will discuss their impending migration with CT colleagues. In addition, staff from the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium in Massachusetts will be coming down to Connecticut to see the presentation and discuss what kinds of enhancements they could co-sponsor. (The three large networks in Massachusetts–NOBLE, C.W. MARS and Merrimack Valley–have been working on an Open Source solution that could be shared between their organizations. The Tri-Network Committee has just recommended Evergreen as the platform of choice. That decision has to be ratified by the three network boards, but they have already been awarded a joint $412,000 LSTA Grant specifically to develop an Open Source alternative for the state!) As Bibliomation’s CEO Mike Simonds says, “Needless to say, it will be very beneficial for us to have a large cooperative Evergreen project in our neighbor to the north.”