Evergreen Community Spotlight: Ben Shum

The Evergreen Outreach Committee is pleased to announce that April’s Community Spotlight goes to Ben Shum, a longstanding community member and Core Committer for both Evergreen and OpenSRF.

Ben’s involvement with Evergreen dates back to 2009, when he attended the first Evergreen conference in Athens, Georgia. Over the years Ben has worked for a couple of Evergreen service providers, and while he no longer works in the library field he continues to be an active contributor to Evergreen. “I’ve made it my business to keep nosing around,” Ben tells us.

“My approach to using technology is that I want to make sure people have the right tools and the ability to use those tools to get their work done,” he says. Ben’s background is more closely related to systems than development, and he is often at the forefront of testing Evergreen’s compatibility with new operating systems and Postgres database versions. 

Ben also spends a lot of time reviewing code submitted by other community members. Between OpenSRF and Evergreen he has logged nearly 1100 commits of others’ work, in addition to authoring close to 400 patches on his own.

Another area that Ben has worked on extensively is improving the translation infrastructure in Evergreen. “Several years ago we did Google Summer of Code and I was invited to the mentor summit,” Ben says. “One session that really spoke to me was about translation – they talked about how to make our programming easier to translate, which would improve adoption and accessibility to non-English speakers.”

Ben enjoys attending events like the Hack-a-Way and Conference to have dedicated time and space to think about and work on Evergreen. “I’ve always enjoyed meeting new contributors and getting to know other people and other peoples’ work,” he says.

Ben encourages new community members to find an area of interest and use that as a springboard for community involvement. He recounts how he, too, was nervous about getting involved with the community at first – but his boss advised him to say something in IRC every day, “Even if it’s just hi.”

“It’s hard to get over that initial trepidation of dipping your toe into communication but you have to put yourself out there,” Ben says. “We don’t bite … much. Find something you’re passionate about, and get involved with that.”

Do you know someone in the community who deserves a bit of extra recognition? Please use this form to submit your nominations. We ask for your email in case we have any questions, but all nominations will be kept confidential.

Any questions can be directed to Andrea Buntz Neiman via abneiman@equinoxinitiative.org or abneiman in IRC.