UMinho hosts discussion on free software and artificial intelligence for libraries

Community using open-source library management programme meets at Gualtar campus

On 28 and 29 November, the University of Minho (UMinho) hosted the 2nd Meeting of the Koha Portugal Community. The B1 auditorium, in CP 2 of the Gualtar campus, brought together a wide range of information professionals to discuss the possibilities of free software and artificial intelligence for libraries, based on “Koha” – an open-source programme for library management used worldwide. Organised by the Koha Community Working Group in Portugal, the aim of this meeting was to allow reflection on the challenges faced by its community today and to understand how it can strengthen itself and collaborate in the development of user skills.

On the first day, starting at 11am and moderated by the director of the Documentation and Library Services Unit, the first speech of the meeting was given by Dalila Durães, an assistant professor in the Computer Science Department of UMinho’s School of Engineering. The UMinho lecturer – who is also president of the IEEE in Computational Intelligence Society, Portugal Chapter and a member of the governing bodies of the Portuguese Artificial Intelligence Association – spoke about “Intelligent Libraries: Challenges and Opportunities”. This was followed by a speech by Elena Sanches-Muñoz, a librarian from the Xunta de Galicia’s Library System Department, who spoke about “Implementing the Koha library management system in a network. El caso de la Red de Bibliotecas Públicas de Galicia”, as well as a talk by the president of the KOHA France users’ association, Sonia Bouis, on “The KohaLa story: how an association can encourage and sustain the use of Koha”. The first day’s programme also included presentations of Pecha Kuchas until 6pm, when guided tours of the Lúcio Craveiro da Silva Library, Braga Public Library and D. Diogo Sousa Archaeological Museum began. Diogo de Sousa Archaeological Museum, activities supported by Braga City Council.

On the second day, nine workshops were held on Koha’s functionalities. The work culminated in a discussion on how to strengthen the Koha Community in Portugal. This session, moderated by Eloy Rodrigues, included Bruno Eiras (DGLAB), Catarina Viana (BMTF/RBAV), Cristina Cortês (SBIDM-UA), Paula Carvalho (FCT), Rafael António (GT Koha PT). The meeting was closed at 5pm by the rector of UMinho, Rui Vieira de Castro.

Koha is Open-Source software for the integrated management of library services, made available in open access worldwide in 2000 and adopted in Portugal since 2007. The Koha Community Working Group in Portugal was created in 2017 by the desire for co-operation between various higher education institutions and currently also includes municipal libraries.