Life with Koha

The NExpress shared catalog has been on Koha for a little over three months now and we just added the Ottawa Library to the family over Thanksgiving. A perk of working with LibLime is that they have staff in both the US and Canada. The Canadian migration team worked away while we ate turkey and stuffing!

The migration went very well and we spent yesterday in Ottawa training staff and helping as they pulled and processed their first EVER Holds Pick List (aka Holds Queue). The pent up demand for books from their collection for the other 14 NExpress libraries and for their own patrons who wanted materials set aside from the collection made for a lot of work! We pulled almost 200 books from the shelves. That exercise turned out to be a very good way to demonstrate the value of a shared catalog to the staff!

Robin Flory, the new Director of Ottawa Library, spent most of October and November weeding the collection with her staff. They removed almost 10,000 items! We have promised her that the newly-weeded collection combined with the shared catalog will raise her circulation by double digits.

Prep work has started with the next five libraries that plan to join in February 2009. We’re still working on a way to remember (and maybe even document) all of the lessons from these first two migrations, making the process a little less painful each time. Build up some migration calluses, so to speak.

One lesson we’ve learned is that we prefer monthly, instead of weekly, patches and system upgrades for the sake of stability and sanity. Looking at the catalog after a patch has been applied is a little like having déjà vu--you find yourself scratching your head and asking, "Was that there yesterday?" and "Didn’t this look different last week?"

We joke in-house about the 'perks' and 'quirks' of Koha. For the program to improve, new code has to be written to do new and exciting things... and occasionally that new code introduces a new little mistake or bug. We’re human, we understand. Sometimes I think those quirks bother me more than the patrons or the member libraries, at least that’s my hope! Overall, I’m still jazzed about the potential of Koha and after spending some time looking at the Developers Wiki and the enhancements slated for the 3.2 upgrade, I think our libraries are only going to benefit from this leap to open source.

Sharon Moreland
Technology Consultant, Northeast Kansas Library System


--> For more information on open source--including ideas straight from Sharon Moreland--tune in to the archive of a recent MaintainIT webinar, "Free and Open Source Software in Libraries."