Koha Newsletter: Volume 1/Issue 1: January 2010
Table of Contents
- News from Koha Libraries
- Tips & Tricks
So we now have a venue (The Wellington Townhall) and we have dates:
October 25 – November 2 2010
- 3 day conference
- followed by 4 day hackfest
The conference has a website http://kohacon.appspot.com/ which is pretty sparse at the moment but will be filled with more information as we get it.
If you blog, use twitter, identica or flickr … please use the #kohacon10 hashtag to tag you posts/pictures/tweets.
And as always any help offered, or suggestions gratefully received – this includes sponsorship offers.
At the Code4Lib annual conference in Asheville, North Carolina, Brendan Gallagher of ByWater Solutions and Ian Walls of the NYU Health Sciences Libraries will be hosting an all-day Koha preconference session. The session will take place on Monday, February 22nd, from 9AM to 4:30PM Eastern Time. The session will include updates of the latest goings-on in the community, roadmaps for Koha 3.2 and 3.4, and an afternoon hackfest. More information about Code4Lib 2010 sessions can be found at http://code4lib.org/conference/2010/schedule.
Just a quick note to let you know that there will be a KUDOS (Koha Users and Developers, US) meeting at ALA midwinter in Boston. It will be held on Saturday, January 16 at 3 PM at the Boston Public Library. The room is not known at this time, but please get it on your calendars if you will be at ALA. We will send further information to the lists. You can also check the KUDOS web site (http://kudos.koha.org) for updates.
News from Koha Libraries
Here at the Crawford County Federated Library System we are nearly finished with our switchover from Koha dev_week to Koha 3.x. The large number of changes between the two has meant more time spent on the transition than anticipated, but the effort will certainly have paid off. I have been porting many of has dev_week additions to Koha, including the “Fines on Return” and “Clubs & Services” features to Koha 3. To allow others the ability to access my work, I has created a Sourceforge project named Koha Plus ( as in “Koha, Plus some more features” (http://sourceforge.net/projects/koha-plus/). The CCFLS staff has also begun offering their knowledge and expertise with Koha to others as Mill Run Technology Solutions ( http://millruntech.com/ ).
The New York University Health Sciences Libraries migrated from their previous Millennium ILS to Koha on Sept. 1st, 2009. The installation, setup and migration were all done in-house, and staff training was purchased from ByWater Solutions. The NYUHSL look forward to developing Koha to further meet the needs of medical and academic libraries.
In mid-October, the Middletown Township Public Library in NJ went live with Koha. The library, which circulates over 900,000 items per year and serves a community of 68,000 from a main library and three branches is the third public library in New Jersey to migrate to Koha. Middletown partnered with the East Brunswick Public Library and PTFS on a substantial development list of twenty-eight items, which are being submitted to the Koha community as we sign off on them. Among these are batch editing of items, creation of a shelving cart status, a bestsellers club, an OPAC “Did you mean?” function, and many report templates. We also integrated our self checkout and RFID services from our vendor, TechLogic, computer management services with Comprise Technologies, and a phone notification system [itiva] with TalkingTech. This route to our new ILS was necessary because we did not have the IT talent in-house to do the development ourselves, and PTFS presented us with a hosting and migration services proposal that was highly competitive. Our team is building skills in writing reports and strategic problem solving, but someday, and hopefully not too many years in the future, we’ll have the skills to be as independent as many of our Koha colleagues are today. Our library’s web address is : http://mtpl.org
In the autumn of 2009, the six libraries comprising the Saugeen Library Consortium in Southwestern Ontario went live with Koha. We were all Spectrum orphans – cut off from support and upgrades for our old ILS when Follett bought out Spectrum – and got together as a group of small-town and rural public libraries to consider our options in 2007. We chose Koha in part so that we would never again be forced into a similar situation by another proprietary database company. Moreover, small public libraries are continually cash-strapped, and an ILS that costs more than our entire annual collections budget was certainly not in the cards!
We were fortunate to receive a grant from the Ministry of Citizenship and Culture’s Library Strategic Development Fund to cover most of the costs incurred by our programmer, Petrus Van Bork of Virtual Libraries Corporation, who prepared the new system and migrated our data to it. There were some major challenges along the way – like the fact that several of the libraries had been using a number of different kinds of barcodes, necessitating the creation of a ‘healer code’ so that the new system could read all the barcodes – but we’re very happy with Koha. It works beautifully for our small public libraries, and both staff members and library users are thrilled with the features it offers.
The Grey Highlands Public Library, for example, is a three-branch system that has never before had a union database. If one branch wanted to know if a book was at another branch, they would have to place a phonecall! Now a few keystrokes accesses all the information needed.
Our users are really pleased – and surprised – when staff inform them that they can now browse the collections of all branches, place their own holds, renew material themselves, and even make suggestions for new additions to the collection and browse the libraries’ shelves!
There have been some adjustments to make for staff, especially dealing with holds and with the cataloguing interface. In small libraries, not many staff members have the training to create MARC records from scratch, and using Z39.50, though very slick, isn’t always fruitful. And in multi-branch systems, holds cannot be placed for specific copies (even though it appears to be a function available in Koha). We are hopeful that the specific-copy holds function will become usable in the next iteration of Koha.
Tips & Tricks
BibLibre has been maintaining a community branch of the upcoming Koha 3.2 release. If you’d like to check out some of the new awesome features and get a first hand look at what’s coming, you can easily set up a new branch on your Koha development installation for this branch.
Once in your Koha git directory you want to use the following commands:
git branch biblibre_branch
# creates a new branch from your current branch
git checkout biblibre_branch # change your current branch to biblibre_branch
git remote add biblibre git://git.biblibre.com/koha_biblibre.git # adds a remote repository
git remote update # gets data from remotes repositories
git rebase biblibre/3.2_community
This will create a community branch that you can test on your own local development installation.
Since taking the role of Documentation Manager for Koha I have had several suggestions, compliments and complaints. Among the suggestions and complaints were the issues people had with translating and printing the manual. For this reason I have started all over for Koha 3.2! I am now writing the Koha manual using DocBook. This format will allow for easy printing to PDF and HTML, easier translation, and easier sharing via Git. BibLibre has set up a git repository for me to share my work with you all. You can keep up with my work here: http://git.biblibre.com/cgi-bin/gitweb.cgi?p=kohadocs;a=summary and in the near future you’ll be able to read the manual in plain HTML on the official Koha site.
I have been testing Z39.50 searching from time to time.
- Response times:I have found that most systems respond very quickly, say 5 seconds. However, if there is one system that takes a while to respond, you get to wait until all the systems have sent their response before any hits are displayed.This said, it makes sense to check the response time of each database that you use, and to search only the fast ones in your initial search (that is, turn on ‘Checked (searched by default)’ in your Z39.50 target settings).
For example, I found that I can search 14 libraries in under 6 seconds, but if I include Amicus in the list, the same search takes about 60 seconds.
- ISBN searching:Not all systems can search by ISBN. Strange, I know. Unfortunately, many of the libraries that have Z39.50 access to their data, are using Horizon, which does not do ISBN searches. This is why you may often do a search by ISBN, no hits, so you do it again with Author/title, and the libraries you searched before pop up showing the ISBN that you searched before.To identify these, I searched for a few really popular books by ISBN, and for those sites that did to respond, I checked whether they had a Horizon system (lib-web-cats is really useful for this). If they were not Horizon systems, I found their online catalogue, picked a few titles, then searched for those ISBNs through Z39.50. If those failed I knew the system did not support ISBN searching.
So, my suggestion is that cataloguers go through the Z39.50 settings in your systems, and set any really slow responders so that they are not checked by default. Also if you usually search by ISBN first, set any libraries that do not support ISBN search not to be checked.
Then, if your first search by ISBN fails, do the search again by author/title, and select all except the slow ones. Lastly search the slow systems only, if no other sources have hits.
This should improve the time taken to search for each MARC record dramatically.
Newsletter edited by Nicole C. Engard, Koha Documentation Manager.
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