Four years in the past, I interviewed Nathan Currulla, co-founder of ByWater Solutions, a significant providers and options supplier for Koha, a well-liked open supply built-in library system (ILS). Since then, I’ve benefitted instantly from his firm’s work, as my native Chautauqua–Cattaraugus Library System in western New York migrated from a proprietary software program system to a ByWater Systems‘ Koha implementation.
When I realized that ByWater is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2019, I made a decision to achieve out to Nathan to learn the way the corporate has grown during the last decade. (Our remarks have been edited barely for grammar and readability.)
Don Watkins: How has ByWater grown within the final 10 years?
Nathan Currulla: Over the final 10 years, ByWater has grown by leaps and bounds. By the top of 2009, we supported 5 libraries with 5 contracts. That quantity shot as much as 117 libraries made up of 46 contracts by the top of 2010. We now assist over 1,500 libraries and 450+ contracts. We additionally went from having two workforce members to 25 up to now 10 years. The service-focused processes now we have developed for migrating new libraries have been adopted by different library corporations, and now we have turn into an actual market disruptor, placing stress on different corporations to supply higher assist and decrease software program subscription charges for libraries utilizing their merchandise. This was our purpose from the outset, to vary the best way libraries work with the know-how corporations who assist them, whomever they could be.
Since the start, now we have been rooted sooner or later, whereas legacy techniques are nonetheless rooted up to now. Ten years in the past, it was an actual battle for us to beat the obstacles introduced by the concern of change in libraries and the outdated perceptions of open supply basically. Now, though we nonetheless must cope with change aversion, there are sufficient customers to disprove any misinformation that exists concerning Koha and open supply. The dialog is less complicated now than it ever was. That stated, even if the beliefs and morals held by open supply are instantly aligned with these of libraries, we nonetheless have an extended strategy to go till open supply applied sciences are the norm on this market.
DW: What sorts of libraries do you assist?
NC: Our companions are made up of a various set of library sorts. About 35% of our companions are public libraries, 35% are educational, and the remaining 30% are made up of museum, company, regulation, faculty, and different particular library sorts. Because of Koha’s flexibility and various characteristic set, we will efficiently present providers to quite a lot of library sorts regardless of the present pattern of consolidation within the library know-how market.
DW: How does ByWater work with and assist the Koha neighborhood?
NC: We are working with the remainder of the Koha neighborhood to streamline workflows and additional enhance the method of submitting and accepting new options into Koha. The overwhelming majority of the neighborhood is made up of volunteers; by offering paid positions throughout the neighborhood, we will dedicate extra time to the standard assurance and sign-off processes wanted to remain aggressive with different techniques, each open supply and proprietary. The variety of new options submitted to the Koha neighborhood for every launch is staggering. The extra sources now we have to get these options out to our customers, the quicker Koha can evolve and additional form the library-technology market.
DW: When we talked in 2015, ByWater had just lately partnered with library options supplier EBSCO. What initiatives are you engaged on now with EBSCO?
NC: Originally, Catalyst IT of New Zealand labored with EBSCO to create the EBSCO Discovery Service (EDS) plugin that’s utilized by lots of our prospects. Unlike most discovery techniques that sit on high of a library’s on-line public entry catalog (OPAC), Koha’s integration with EDS makes use of the Koha OPAC because the frontend, with EDS feeding knowledge into the Koha interface. This permits libraries to decide on which interface they like (EDS or Koha because the frontend) and supplies a unified library service platform (LSP). EBSCO has at all times been an important companion and has at all times proven a robust willingness to contribute to the open supply initiative. They perceive the significance of getting fewer obstacles between the ILS and the libraries’ different content material to supply a seamless interface to the top person.
Outside of Koha, ByWater is working carefully with EBSCO to supply implementation, coaching, and assist providers for its Folio LSP. Folio is an open supply LSP for tutorial libraries with the intent to supply much more seamless integration with different content material suppliers utilizing an extensible, open app market. ByWater is growing a separate division for the implementation and ongoing assist of Folio, with EBSCO offering internet hosting providers to our mutual prospects. The undeniable fact that EBSCO is investing tens of millions within the creation of an open supply platform lends additional credence to the significance and validity of open supply applied sciences within the library market.
DW: What different initiatives are you supporting? How do they complement Koha?
NC: ByWater additionally helps Libki, an open supply, web-based kiosk and print administration answer; Coral, an open supply digital useful resource administration (ERM) answer; and Folio. Libki and Coral seamlessly combine with Koha to supply a unified LSP. Folio may fit in cooperation with Koha on some performance, however it’s too early to inform what that may particularly appear to be.
ByWater additionally provides Koha Klassmates, a program that gives free installations of Koha to over 40 library faculties within the US to familiarize the subsequent era of librarians with open supply and the instruments they are going to use each day within the workforce. We are additionally rolling out a program referred to as Koha University, which is able to mentor laptop science college students in writing and submitting code to Koha, one of many largest open supply initiatives on this planet. This will give them expertise in working in such an atmosphere and supply the chance for his or her names to be listed as official Koha contributors.
DW: What is ByWater’s strategic focus over the subsequent 5 years?
NC: ByWater will proceed providing top-rated assist to our ever-growing buyer base whereas leveraging new open supply alternatives to disprove misinformation surrounding using open supply options in libraries. We will concentrate on making open supply the norm and educating libraries that may very well be making the most of these applied sciences however don’t due to outdated info and perceptions.
Additionally, our analysis and growth efforts will probably be centered on analyzing machine studying for superior schooling and assist providers. We additionally wish to work carefully with our companions on advancing the advertising and marketing efforts (via software program) for small and enormous libraries to assist cement their roles as neighborhood facilities by advertising and marketing stock, applications, and library occasions. We wish to be neighborhood builders on totally different ranges, each for our companion libraries and with the open supply communities that we’re concerned in.