Howard County Library System (MD)

I talked with Amy DeGroff, the head of Library Technology Services, at the Howard County Library system, in Maryland. They have six public libraries and about 1 million items. They circulate about 5 millions items each year. Howard County is a SirsiDynix Horizon library and they are in the process of migrating to Koha. Their go-live date is scheduled for December 2008.

Their original go-live date was supposed to be this fall, but they are now waiting for the new Koha acquisitions module, Get It, to be finished. They are co-sponsoring development of this with WALDO. It will be released in November, at a conference in North Carolina.

They chose Koha over Evergreen because they did not need the consortial features present in Evergreen. Howard County libraries function as branches in one system, with the same circulation rules and little need for individual autonomy. Although Koha does allow for this flexibility, Howard County is shutting that flexibility down.

Amy is really impressed with Koha’s patron catalog. There is much innovation to be excited about. It is very easy to create public lists, pathfinders that bring up specific search results for patrons. Faceted searching works very well, too. To see their library catalog (in development), go to koha.hclibrary.org.

Howard County is working with LibLime as they work toward their migration over to Koha. LibLime imported their data. They have both a test server and production server.

Howard County has a web designer who is interested in contributing to the open source development. This staff person will receive computer programming training (Perl, etc.).

Amy was receptive to the idea of a visit from Bibliomation once they have gone live to see Koha in action.