Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Meet the Open Source Team: Spotlight on Ben Shum

Ben Shum is Bibliomation's Open Source Software Coordinator.

Question: You began working at Bibliomation this past summer. How were you found for this position? What have been your job responsibilities since you joined the Bibliomation staff?

Answer: The company, PTFS, placed an ad on behalf of Bibliomation. They were looking for someone with computer/open source software development experience and I had three of the twelve skills listed - Java script, HTML, and Linux experience. I submitted my application on a Thursday, I was called by PTFS on the following Friday, and by that Monday I was being interviewed by Bibliomation. It all happened rather fast. I should also tell you that I was very excited at the prospect of working at Bibliomation. In one of my MLS classes, Foundations in Librarianship, my professor, Dr. Lisa Forman, spoke of Bibliomation's recent investigation of open source library systems. Immediately after I was hired, PTFS sent me to the Evergreen conference in Georgia.

I've been doing all things open source-related since I was hired by Bibliomation.

Question: What kind of work have you been collaborating with Melissa on with regard to the Bibliomation Evergreen test server?

Answer: I put together the test server -- I installed the operating system and the Evergreen software by the second day on the job. I then concentrated on learning the in's and out's of the system. The bugs that I found in version 1.4, I reported to the Evergreen community through the Evergreen IRC chat, and that was my entree into the community itself. They would let me know that the bug was already reported. I also became acquainted with the Evergreen email lists, their dokuwiki pages, and the change logs.

Question: What is your educational background?

Answer: I received my Bachelors of Science in Computer Systems Administration from Andrews University in Michigan in 2008. I'm now in my second year of Southern CT State University's MLS program.

Question: How did you select Library Science?

Answer: It was a lunch with a librarian when I was still an undergrad. It sounded like something I'd want to do - I've always liked the information aspects of computers, always liked documentation. In high school, I worked in the registrar's office and helped with records management. I'm good at most of the steps in the software development cycle - planning, designing, documenting, coding, testing, and maintenance.

Question: What do you like most about Evergreen?

Answer: I like that it's open source, that you can see what you can change. An open-source ILS is not free in the sense of price or efforts. It still requires tremendous thought and preparation. In the end, the product of hard work will belong to us, not a vendor or others. But "us" is not merely the few of "us" here, but the whole community. It is a contribution for the whole, enriching us all.

Question: What do you like to do in your free time?

Answer: I like spending time with my family and friends. Work and school make up my life these days. I enjoy listening to music, especially movie and television soundtracks. Jerry Goldsmith is one of my favorite composers. He did the scores for Star Trek and Air Force One. I also like to play with Ubuntu Linux when I have a free moment.

Ben Shum can be reached at bshumATbiblioDOTorg.
Amy Terlaga, Assistant Director, User Services, and Open Source Team interviewer, can be reached at terlagaATbiblioDOTorg.

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