Chris Burton of Niagara Falls Public Library (NFPL) made a splash last year when he wrote an entire Bootstrap-based version of Evergreen’s OPAC. Most new contributors start small, but the Bootstrap OPAC – nicknamed BOOPAC by the community – was not only Chris’s first contribution to Evergreen, it was the first rewrite of the OPAC in a decade.
Chris is the Technology Coordinator at NFPL, which is part of the Libraries in Niagara Consortium, and he is the Evergreen Outreach Community Spotlight for the second quarter of 2021. Chris has also served as a member of The Evergreen Project Board since 2019 and was elected as Board Vice-President for the 2021-2022 Board term.
Chris’s work on the BOOPAC grew out of a desire to make the OPAC more accessible for both mobile and assistive devices. The 2018 Evergreen Conference included the community brainstorming conversation Future of Evergreen, which started Chris thinking about how to improve the OPAC. Ontario’s strict accessibility guidelines via the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) also pushed Chris in the direction of thinking about accessibility.
There were more basic OPAC usability concerns, as well. “One of my first interactions was when a manager told me how hard it was to place a hold on her phone from the OPAC – ‘can you fix this?’ And then it spiraled from there,” Chris tells us. “I learned by fire.”
Chris’s background is in computer programming but he also does system administration work for NFPL, and he appreciates being able to dive into the code to change things if needed. “Knowing command line has saved me loads of time – looking for logs, knowing how to restart things, debug,” he states. “It’s so powerful but overlooked because it’s not pretty.” NFPL’s migration to Evergreen in 2017 was the first step in an ongoing process for NFPL of changing all of their proprietary products to open source products.
Chris encourages new community members to join the community IRC channel. “Don’t be afraid to ask questions – even if it is a stupid question; all the experts are on there pretty much all day,” he says. Chris also recommends looking at the community documentation as well as newer resources like the YouTube channel. “Having that stuff available is a gamechanger,” Chris says “When I started none of that was available.”
He remarked how great it was to see a wide variety of community members attending the online conference. “It was amazing having Czechia there, to see how large the community is. Effortless collaboration,” he noted.
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