The Evergreen Outreach Committee is pleased to announce that December’s Contributor of the Month is Jeff Klapes, who is Head of Reference Services at Lucius Beebe Memorial Library, a part of the North of Boston Library Exchange (NOBLE) Consortium. Jeff is also the Chair of the Development Committee with the Evergreen Community Development Initiative, which is the successor to MassLNC.
Jeff emphasizes the importance of non-developers in the open source world. “I can’t code my way out of a paper bag with a map, but I don’t need to – I can be a cheerleader; I can make things come to fruition.” NOBLE has participated in the Evergreen community since before their go-live in 2012. Jeff cites NOBLE leadership as being very involved with real-world library issues, since they have all been front line librarians.
In his role as a reference librarian, Jeff views his involvement with Evergreen through a lens of patron service and improving the end-user experience. “I love working with our patrons. When we can do things with the software that we couldn’t do before, I can tell them ‘That thing you hated? It’s fixed!’”
Jeff told us a great story about patron-focused development. One of his patrons loves the Jessica Fletcher mysteries, and she reads them in Large Print. Jeff searched for all of the Large Print Jessica Fletcher mysteries in his consortium and, using the tools created in the Batch Actions From Search Results project, he put them in a basket for the patron. He placed suspended holds on all of the titles, and now activates one or two at a time – keeping his patron happily reading a steady stream of her favorite books in her preferred format.
Jeff echoes what many others have said about the positive value of ownership in an open source community. “We’ve spent too much of our professional lives waiting for wishlists that they haven’t made happen. THEY are US.” Jeff likes knowing that when his own staff have suggestions to improve Evergreen, they feel comfortable sharing those ideas because, “As often as not, it will eventually turn into something.”
The small size of the community and conference are its strengths, Jeff thinks, and he encourages new people to take advantage of that. “The community is small enough that you can get to know a lot of people,” he says. “I love the conference because it gives me an opportunity at least once a year to see people in person who I normally only interact with over the phone or email.”
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