Meet Koha, the first open source Integrated Library System. Marc Roberson of LibLime demonstrates Koha’s extensive feature set and outlines the advantages of the open-source development model.
LibLime was founded by Josh Ferraro, and he worked at the first library in the nation to use open source. That software is now known as Koha.
But the biggest problem with open source is: who will support it?
Open source is supported by the use community, and everyone gives back for what they get (that’s what “koha” means).
Because of this, the users are the developers, so needed features are ready in days to weeks instead of years to never with traditional vendors.
Free? that’s just not good enough anymore – it’s often not tailored.
The library’s goal should be to minimize the cost of delivering a useful product to patrons. So even Koha/LibLime does cost money, the value of what is delivered is a fraction of what traditional ILSs deliver.
For more information on LibLime, visit the LibLime website.
Any software that the base source code is made public. It is popular because
- it has reliability through peer review (“with hundreds of eyes on a problem, all bugs are shallow” – The Cathedral and the Bizarre)
- There is no vendor lock-in
- It’s all user-centric development – users do the innovation
- The software is free – no license fees – only cost is in maintenance contracts, which you can contract anyone to do (just like you can hire any plumber to work on your pipes at home)
Take a look at Koha
Areas to look at:
- Patron account interface – patrons have lots of control over their account information
- Tagging – support for this is built in
- Reading history – patrons can track their history on an opt-in basis
- Messaging – patrons can sign up to be notified of reserves, due dates, etc. – this can replace patrons using LibraryElf
- Spelling suggestions when searching
- Search results – function display, and can be customized; results are available as rss feed, can be limited to just currently available items; faceted search is available on the left, to show all the extras catalogers have been adding to records for years – subjects, series, etc.
- Athens County Public Libraries
- Near East University (Cypress) – allows switching between English and Turkish – also has a “where in the library is it?” map link for every item in the catalog
- Howard Country Library – this is where the look of the default Koha catalog comes from; also includes a “cart” feature, which is a session-based list, that can be exported for citations or sent via email; also has “list” feature – this is an alternative to the system-generated reading history, and people can use multiple lists to keep track of books in different subjects
- Extra content (reviews, summaries, etc) come from B&T Content Café, Amazon, Google Books and Syndetics
- Patron Comments
- Browse the shelf – patrons see a virtual shelf list (which engineers serendipity)
- Title/editions grouping – all versions of a single title (format, print, etc) can all be linked to in a single record
The staff client
It’s all web-based, so no more software being installed. And it works well with all browsers. It can be hosted either at the library or at LibLime (usually about 20% cheaper to host with LibLime because they have such large server capacity and don’t have to go through library hardware and staff to maintain the system).
Has a “news” feed, to let staff know of staff meetings, announcement, etc.
Patron searches can be done by almost any field in their record; shows what they have checked out; lets staff change due dates (based on permissions); also includes a modification log to see who makes changes to a patron’s record; can also link family records to prevent parents from checking things out if their kids have items overdue
Has a built-in module, and also uses biblios.net for information – subscription will be $1/day
Has several ways to add new records – import, z39.50 searching, original catalog (and supports multiple frameworks for different formats); checks for duplicate records on import/creation; as soon as it is saved, it’s available in the catalog – it doesn’t require an end-of-day process
Has templates to print spine labels and more.
Written in SQL, so they can either be written by hand or use the built-in reports wizard. Reports can be scheduled to run and have results emailed, and they can be saved to run at any time (don’t have to be built every time)
Easy to search within System Preferences to find out where settings need to be made.
Can control default actions – for instance, for overdue notices, the first is a mild reminder, the second is a bill, etc.