I was able to chat with David Schuster, Library Technology Coordinator for Plano Independent Schools District (ISD) in Texas. Plano ISD has 68 schools, ranging from pre-school to high school.
David plans to cut over to Koha on January 1, 2009. He’s been working with LibLime and plans to sign a three-year contract with them to provide migration support and maintenance to their Koha installation. His libraries will be set up as independent branches. They will not share holds.
David and his team chose Koha because it provided the promise of continuous changes to the look and functionality of the ILS. It also has a web-based staff client, very easy to roll out new changes to all of his schools. Customization is very important to Plano ISD.
David thinks that he might sponsor some development work for the inventory control module that comes with Koha. Right now, the only thing the inventory control feature does is flag the item on the shelf. It does not provide detailed information regarding misshelved items or incorrect code information (wrong collection, etc.). He’d also like to see improvements made in spine label printing. Right now, Koha can only print spine labels in batches, not for an individual item.
Another possibility for sponsored work — David is considering working with LibLime somewhere down the line to produce an icon-driven kid’s catalog.
Other enhancements David would like to see with Koha:
- Annual circ history information for each item
- Batch creation of items
- Batch editing of items
- Off-line circulation module
- Item barcode lookup for editing purposes
- Reports are fabulous, but there needs to be a set of standard reports that can be easily shared among all libraries (maybe this exists now, but David hasn’t seen it yet)
David has been told that there is work being sponsored right now to provide the ability for Koha users to perform batch item deletes.
LibLime will be providing custom style sheets for his elementary, middle and high school libraries.
I will touch base again with David sometime after January 1st.
LibLime Press Release:
LibLime to Acquire CARE Affiliates
ATHENS, OH and BLACKSBURG, VA–July 29, 2008 -– LibLime, the leader in open source solutions for libraries and CARE Affiliates™ announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement to sell select assets of CARE Affiliates to LibLime. The sale will include select products, related services and domain names along with associated service contracts. Final closing is scheduled for August 2008.
Carl Grant, President of CARE Affiliates will be taking a new position as president of Ex Libris, North America, effective immediately. “I’m delighted that LibLime has decided to acquire these assets,” said Carl. “This will ensure the continuation of these products/services well into the future. I look forward to seeing how LibLime grows these ideas. I also feel it’s important to say that this sale and my move is based primarily on personal reasons and is in no way a reflection on the open-source community or service providers serving libraries. Open source has a vibrant future in libraries and I’m pleased to say that Ex Libris is one of the proprietary vendors listening to this community as evidenced by their recent announcement about their new Open Platform strategy. I will continue to stay engaged with the library open-source community, albeit in a different role.”
“We’ve been proud to list CARE Affiliates as one of our strategic partners since they started supporting open source in 2007,” says Joshua Ferraro, CEO of LibLime. “This arrangement gives us increased capacity to deliver open-source and open architecture solutions for libraries in the strategic area of metasearching.”
LibLime’s acquisition of CARE again highlights one strength of open-source solutions — no vendor lock-in. CARE’s customers don’t need to worry about switching to new solutions. With open source, switching vendors doesn’t mean switching software.
This is LibLime’s third acquisition since the company’s inception in 2005. Earlier acquisitions include Ohio-based Skemotah Solutions and Katipo Communications’ Koha division in New Zealand.
For the past couple of weeks, Bibliomation staff has been learning what we can about the Koha ILS. As I’ve written before, we have been testing version 3.0, but what we learned from LibLime while at ALA has us convinced that we won’t really be able to configure the system to our consortial needs until a future release, due out sometime this fall. This future release will have something called system groups which will allow us to create specific profiles for our libraries and schools, and cluster certain locations together. (Think school systems and libraries with branches here.) We also want to be able to have each library bring up their own catalog without forcing patrons to choose from a LONG list of 70+ library locations. Some of this functionality is being developed for the INCOLSA network in Indiana.
In the meantime, Mary has completed the Horizon-to-Koha MARC mapping table and she plans to take a look at Koha’s various indexes as soon as Brendan has brought up our permanent test server. We are also going through the functional specifications we developed back in 2003-2004 for our last migration to see what needs to be added/changed/removed. We have picked up quite a bit of functionality over these past few years so all of that has to be added to our testing checklists! We are using a private, in-house wiki to keep track of our Koha testing progress and that is working out quite well to keep us all informed of each staff person’s work.
Just back from California and the ALA conference in Anaheim had plenty of open source programs from which to choose.
Mike and I attended “Planning for Open Source in Consortia” on June 29th. The panelists were Monica Shultz, IT Director of the Peninsula Library System in San Mateo, CA and Randy Dykhuis, Executive Director of the Michigan Library Consortium.
The Peninsula Library System is currently testing the functionality of the Evergreen system. They have not yet committed to migrating to the system, but so far their testing is showing it to be very flexible for their needs.
The Michigan Library Consortium has already begun their migration process to Evergreen and have selected a group of pilot libraries to move over to the open source system this summer. The Grand Rapids Public Library will be included in a later migration phase.
OPEN SOURCE INTEREST GROUPS AT ALA
Brendan attended the very first organizational meeting of KUDOS, the user group for the Koha open source system. They plan on setting up a 501c3 non-profit to support their efforts.
And Brendan and I attended the Koha interest group meeting in which those interested in Koha and those actually using Koha (in test and production) could share information and ask questions of each other and LibLime staff. who organized this interest group meeting.
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.