Notes from the KohaLa symposium 2024

8th July 2024 | Aude Charillon

Last month, I attended the KohaLa symposium 2024 in France.

A bit about KohaLa

KohaLa is the French Koha user group. It was founded back in 2007 as a not-for-profit association – evidently by a group of people who couldn’t resist a pun! 🐨

Its members are mainly library services, with the addition of a few individual members and a support supplier. On top of organising training sessions and working groups, KohaLa members manage the translation of Koha and the Koha manual in French (fr-FR), take part in the wider Koha community and fund developments.

If you want to know more about the group, look out for Sonia Bouis’s presentation at KohaCon24.

KohaLa symposium 2024

This year’s symposium took place at the Maison méditerranéenne des sciences de l’homme (MMSH) in Aix-en-Provence. The MMSH, or Mediterranean Foundation for the Human Sciences, is part of the University of Aix Marseille and is host to research labs and two libraries.

I was at the symposium to present on the latest evolutions of the Koha manual [my slides in French] – but also to keep my ears open and learn from fellow Koha community members.

The programme was packed with a day and half of presentations plus one day of workshops. There were tales of Koha implementations, tips on using notices, talks of the transition to a linked data format, tutorials for Koha HTML customizations, tidbits from the wider Koha community, testing of bugs and time to visit a library.

Fountain surrounded by bronze lions. Standing on a pillar in the centre of the fountain are three sculptures of female figures.
Fontaine de la Rotonde, Aix-en-Provence

 

I don’t have the space (and you probably don’t have the time!) for me to report on everything I heard; so I will focus on one presentation: the findings of a survey of libraries using Koha in France.

Who are the Koha libraries in France?

Claude Demeure, from the community-run library of Bohars in Brittany, was originally interested in knowing how many other small libraries like his were self-hosting Koha. His interest turned into a much wider survey of Koha libraries, which was undertaken in early 2024. His questionnaire received answers from 119 library services – representing 1,321 branches.

Here are some highlights from the findings.

Which library sectors use Koha?

Pie chart. Public libraries 36%, Higher education 29%, Research 7%, Religious 7%, Corporate 3%, Associations 7%, Other 11%
Diagram created from Claude Demeure and KohaLa’s survey results. (Click to view full size.)

 

All sizes of libraries (in terms of members and number of items) were present in most sectors.

How many library services self-host Koha? Only 8% of those surveyed do; everyone else uses a supplier. The main reasons cited for using a supplier were the security of infrastructure and the lack of in-house skills.

Why did the librarians answering the survey choose Koha? (Multiple responses possible)

  • 81% said because Koha is free software (in the open source meaning of the phrase).
  • 44% because it’s community-led.
  • 28% because it’s free (as in: there’s no fee).
  • 14% indicated they didn’t really choose it; it was imposed either by their hierarchy or by the consortium they belong to.

 

How happy are all these librarians with Koha? 96% are satisfied or very satisfied with it. The reasons quoted by the remaining 4% for being “not so satisfied” included: many bugs missing a solution, complex to manage.

In his conclusion, Claude highlighted that we don’t know how many Koha libraries did not take survey. There is also no point of comparison, as there is no previous survey of this kind in France!

You can read the full results on Claude’s slides [in French].

 

Feature image: entrance of the Maison méditerranéenne des sciences de l’homme

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