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Nelsonville Public Library Chooses Open Source

19 Sep 02

The Open Source movement is ideal for the library environment where co-operation is a strong culture and costs are pressing. The future could see many of the smaller less demanding library systems move to Open Source once the fear of the unknown has been overcome by successful pioneers.

contacts: KOHA ,

The Nelsonville Public Library will migrate its existing server - currently running the Civica or "Spydus" system from Sanderson - to the open source Koha library system next summer and will contribute to the further development of the Koha project. "We're going to move our library services onto Open Source platforms, culminating with the conversion of our existing server system to Koha." says Stephen Hedges of the Nelsonville Public Library (NPL). We want to use the Internet to offer some cutting edge information services to our library patrons, but we realized that this would require us to have control of our automation and database software. We needed the freedom to change things, to change the code if necessary, because the types of things we want to do are not going to appear in commercial library software for years." Koha, being open source, provided the access that NPL required and the level of stability and functionality that they needed. NPL has committed to help support the development of Koha by funding some of the work on three specific projects. This support is seen as a wise investment, NPL expects to save as much money per year as they initially invest in Koha. More importantly, they will be able to offer what they consider to be "the best online services available anywhere in the world." "NPL's involvement is a real validation of our model." says Pat Eyler, Kaitiaki (manager) of the Koha project. "We've got a solid base system. As people want to add onto it, they can make a small investment to fund the work (far less than they would for a comparable closed source solution) and everyone will benefit. I hope that we'll see other libraries pitching in too."

About Koha:

The Koha project started in 1999 in New Zealand when the Horowhenua Library Trust commissioned Katipo Communications to write a new library system for them. The system went live in 2000, and was released as Free Software during that year. Since then it has been installed in numerous libraries and has sprouted an active developer community that encompasses more than nine countries on four continents.

Future of Koha

Since the orignial story in Biblio Tech Review, Koha has implemented more search methods, a better interface, and many more improvements (including automated installation tools). The backend is being rewritten to be fully MARC 21 compliant. An integrated Z39.50 server and NCIP support are on the drawing board.

About the Nelsonville Public Library:

NPL provides services to approximately 36,000 active borrowers through seven branches. Their collection includes over 250,000 items.