CIL 2009: Open Source Library Implementations

Speakers: Karen Kohn and Eric McCloy

Preparing for moving from a traditional ILS to Koha.

They were frustrated with not being able to get at the data in their system, and it was cost-prohibitive to gain access. The user interface was locked into a particular design that was difficult to modify or make ADA-compliant. Staff clients had to be updated on each computer, which was a time-consuming process.

They have a strong IT-library partnership, which meant they knew they could work with a system that needs that kind of support.

How they did it (Fall 2008): dropped "discovery layer" product from their ILS, use the savings to get their federated search working, started doing nightly dumps of records from ILS to Koha (using ILS as back-end, Koha as the user interface), designed web interface (Drupal), and set up a Z39.50 interface to search Koha. Eventually they will be putting Koha out for native searching. Currently, they are testing and de-bugging, and have plans to roll out the migration this summer (2009).

Every once in a while, librarians need to be reminded that [insert tech glitch] is only temporary and everything will be corrected eventually, so don’t fret over the details to the point of getting distracted from the goal.

[Commentary: My library looked at Koha last year, but we need something that can handle acquisitions and serials, and Koha wasn’t at that point yet. It did not occur to me, and I don’t think it occurred to anyone else, that we could use our current ILS for staff and administrative things and make Koha our user interface, which is where it currently excels.]


I’m taking a class next fall on PHP.

The computer science department is offering a new course next fall called Web Programming with PHP. I’m signing up for it (if I can get the necessary over-rides) because I’ve wanted to learn PHP, but I don’t have enough discipline or programming experience to do it on my own from books. I have these ideas of things I want to do to enhance the user interface with our electronic resources, and I think that PHP will be a good first step towards gaining the knowledge I need to do implement those ideas.