Koha 3.0 RC1 Released

It’s finally here! After tons of hard work, the Koha community has announced the release of Koha 3.0 RC1. This from the many Koha mailing lists:

You can download from the usual location:

http://download.koha.org/koha-3.00.00-stableRC1.tar.gz
http://download.koha.org/koha-3.00.00-stableRC1.tar.gz.sig

You can check the integrity of the package; either by verifying the provided GPG signature (.sig) or by comparing the MD5 checksum:

5cc0914c5e8250c2491f4dbcf27d4301 koha-3.00.00-stableRC1.tar.gz

I’ve also tagged this in Git as “version 3.00.00 stableRC1″ v3.00.00-stableRC1

This is the third packaged release of Koha 3. Prior to the official stable release of Koha 3.0, translations will be updated; additional issues and bugs may be be addressed. A list of these are documented on Koha’s Bugzilla:

http://bugs.koha.org

and organized on the 3.0 RM’s QA notes Wiki page:

http://wiki.koha.org/doku.php?id=en:development:qanotes3.0

The release notes for this RC1 version are pasted in below, and will also on the koha website sometime soon.

Cheers,


Joshua Ferraro
Koha 3.0 Release Manager

And as many of you know (well at least those of you on Twitter & Facebook) I have been working on the documentation for this new release and my working draft can be viewed online (hopefully to be moved to a more collaborative medium soon) via LibLime’s Google Sites at http://sites.google.com/a/liblime.com/koha-manual/Home. Feel free to notify me of any changes, suggestions, etc.

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50 Libraries using LibraryThing for Libraries

Awesome news from LibraryThing:

We’ve just hit our first major milestone: there are now 50 libraries using LibraryThing for Libraries. See the full list here. For a visual representation of what may be the opposite of LibraryThing for Libraries, but of the same number, look to the right.

We’re also pleased that number 50 is Portland Public Library, in LibraryThing’s hometown. We attended the implementation, and we’re happy to say that their bouncing baby catalog enhancements are doing just fine.

You gotta love LibraryThing and what other book cataloging site shares data with and uses data from libraries??

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CIL2008: Open Source Landscape

I love listening to Marshall Breeding present – it always makes me feel better to know that someone can talk faster than me ;) Marshall started his talk by showing us the lib-web-cats advanced search which allows you to search for libraries running specific systems. He did remind us to keep in mind that the systems shown are the ones that have made a commitment to a system (may not be live yet).

Broad Trends

Open source is highly used in the general IT arena with examples like Linux and Apache. If you believe the blogosphere, open source is going up up up – but it’s not necessarily true – Microsoft is also gaining a footing – showing that they are all good options. You need to make your decisions with all the facts in hand.

Open Source

Did you know that your general library infrastructure is open source? z39.50 is open source! And Index Data has been making tools based on this protocol for a long time (the Yaz toolkit is the main z39.50 tool being used).

Other open source options:

  • Federated search – LibraryFind and Masterkey
  • OCLC offers some stuff – typically older stuff that they want other people to take care of now
  • Digital repositories – Fedora, DSpace, and Keystone

Next Marshall listed some open source discovery products – AKA – next gen catalogs:

  • Vufind – based on Apache Solr search toolkit — toolkits make it accessible for relatively small development shops to create this stuff
  • Extensible catalog – University of Rochester and the Melon Foundation
  • fac-back-opac
  • Scriblio – based on WordPress

Open Source in the ILS Arena – Products and Trends

It used to be bold and risky to move to an open source ILS. This move however led to a bunch of projects that are now products. That said, Marshall wants to make sure that people have the best information available to them when they make these decisions – he’s not an open source evangelist he’s a technology evangelist.

3 of the 4 open source ILS that were around in 2002 are now defunct so when Marshall wrote that the open source ILS it was still a distant future – it was true.

… then the world changed

In March 2007 the world had changed, but open source is a minority player. In March 2008 open source is a real option out there, but you need to use the same criteria you use when choosing a closed source system.

Now, April 2008 the open source ILS has launched into the mainstream – there is a lot of room for optimism and there is going to more and more of this over time.

The ILS market is an industry in turmoil with mergers and acquisitions left and right causing disruptions and business decisions to narrow options. This has fueled the open source movement by providing libraries with additional options.

Open Source v. Traditional Licensing

So what side is Marshal on? He says both sides! He wouldn’t want to see a world where one or the other is the only option and thinks they complement the each other. Each library has it’s own personality and can use that in choosing their systems.

Recommendations for making a choice:

  • avoid philosophical preference – make choices as business decisions instead
  • which best supports the missions of libraries
  • which approach helps libraries become better libraries?

Specifics

Koha

  • first open source ILS
  • Koha + Index Data Zebra = Koha Zoom
  • 300+ libraries
  • while there are a lot of small libraries – there are also some biggies signing up now
  • the system has grown up to a level where it can handle these big libraries
  • has the interface we want – facets, clean, book jackets

Evergreen

  • developed by the GA public library system
  • small dev team
  • June 2004 – dev begins
  • September 2005 live production
  • streamlined environment – single shared implementation, all libraries, follow the same policies,
  • one library card
  • by far the most people using it are the GA PINES consortia
  • it’s a big difference between supporting 250+ small libraries and supporting a big library system (so it will make a difference when the Atlanta area switched)
  • has interface we want – facets, clean, book jackets

OPALS

  • going gangbusters in the public school system
  • created by Media Flex
  • south central org of (school) libraries

NextGenLib

  • ILS designed for the developing world
  • originally traditionally licensed, introduced in 2003
  • transition to open source in January 2008
  • 122 installations (India, Syria, Sudan, Cambodia)

Learning Access ILS

  • turnkey open source ILS
  • designed for under-served rural public and tribal libraries
  • defunct?? – has been trying to get in touch with these people – but can’t (email bounces)

There is also lot of commercial involvement these days:

  • Index Data (founded 1994)
  • LibLime (founded 2005)
    • small but growing
    • total of 20 FTP – hiring industry veterans exiting from traditional ILS companies
  • Equinox (founded 2007)
    • contracts to GA PINES library system
  • Care Affiliates (founded 2007)
    • recently formed founded by Carl Grant
  • Media Flex (longstanding company)
  • Duke is working on a proposal to create an open source ILS
  • …there are others afoot

Issues

Explosive interest in open source is being driven by the disillusionment with current vendors. Given this, Marshall makes the point that the open source ILS would be where it is if it wasn’t for what was happening on the other end of things. Open source allows for more flexible systems and lower costs (however, Marshall still feels that total cost of ownership is the same between the two over the long haul). With open source libraries are less vulnerable to the mergers and acquisitions that are happening in the proprietary world.

Cost Issues

  • cost shifted – no license fee
  • hardware
  • vendor support
  • hosting
  • conversion
  • local technical support
  • development costs
  • open source vendors should come up with a total cost of ownership report to show us that open source is really cheaper

Open source risk factors

Marshall still thinks that open source is a risky alternative because of a dependency on community organizations and commercial companies to provide development and support services. I’d argue that this is a reason that open source is less risky – with a community of developers and support services you’re more likely to find someone to help you out if your vendor goes under. That said, Marshall admits that the other side is risky too!

All that said the interest in open source (and the market share) is relatively low.

Conclusions

What he’s looking for is a new system (aren’t we all) – built for how libraries are today. This is not an open source system that does what our systems already do today. In short, we have a long way to go on both fronts – both open and closed source.

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CIL2008: WoePac to WowPac

Karen Schneider moderated this very interesting two part session on WoePac to WowPac – a look at OPACs as we know them and would like them to be. As a librarian who has often torn her hair out over the sad state – “or should I say sucky state” of our OPACs she’s the perfect person to be introducing the speakers for this session.

First off, Roy Tennant. Roy started off by saying “I’ve spent the last 10 years trying to kill off the the word OPAC – you can see how successful I’ve been.”

Roy wanted to clarify for us that when he talked about the “OPAC” he’s just talking about the discovery part of our systems – the public interface – not the entire ILS. He introduced us to a few tools that add a new discovery level to our systems that harvests data out of the ILS.

When you’re ready for a change in your library you have a few questions to consider before looking at today’s tools.

  • do you want to replace your ILS or just your public interface?
  • can you consider open source options? (some can’t)
  • do you have the technical expertise to set it up and maintain it locally?
  • are you willing to regularly harvest data from your catalog to power a separate user interface?

Some examples of options available to today’s libraries are:

Koha (example from Athens County Public Library)

  • faceted browse
  • highlighted search words
  • availability information
  • no harvesting of information required – because it’s an ILS

Evergreen (example from Georgia Pines)

  • faceted browse

    • some issues with them – strange terms coming up in the facets
  • no harvesting of information required – because it’s an ILS

VuFind

  • discovery layer only
  • in development (they haven’t started using it themselves yet)
  • the interface looks really good
  • faceted browse
  • availability info shown (it’s being extracted out of the ILS)

LibraryFind (example from Oregon State University Library)

  • MetaSearch system
  • faceted browse
  • clean interface
  • you’ll see articles interfiled among the books in results
  • you can see databases searched

WorldCat Local (example from University of Washington)

  • local branding
  • local version of worldcat.org
  • articles included from some databases
  • real benefit is that you can search the world – so first it searches the local library and then the consortium and then the rest of the world

Next up Kate Sheehan who was part of the first library to use LibraryThing for Libraries. I like Kate’s definition as a bibliophile/social networking mashup (hope the credit for that doesn’t belong with someone else – if so – I’m sorry).

LibraryThing has a ton of data about books and readers and the readers are not afraid to use it. While LibraryThing is all about users (they want to search and catalog their own way) – LibraryThing for Libraries is all about the masses of data.

Kate showed us the search results for “OPAC sucks” in Google and there were 3 pages of results (I got 10 pages).

To improve a woepac, LibraryThing for Libraries takes all the neat stuff that LibraryThing knows and dumps it into your OPAC – any OPAC because this tool is platform agnostic.

Kate gave us a preview of what this tool does:

  • it shows other editions of the title that the library has
  • shows similar books and it’s really good (once again only based on things in the library)
  • can even add reviews with a Greasemonkey script

Computers in Libraries
Originally uploaded by nengard

So how hard is it to implement? Kate says it’s so easy a monkey could do it – really! It’s just a simple javascript that you copy and paste into your template and you’re done.

LibraryThing bases this stuff on what people have actually read (not what they’ve bought – like Amazon). If there is anything wrong with LibraryThing for Libraries, it’s that it doesn’t work as well with non-isbn books – all of these features are based on comparing ISBNs.

So why do libraries want LibraryThing? Basically, data doesn’t grow on trees and LibraryThing has this wealth of information to share with libraries. This is a pretty simple concept.

This is a great tool – especially for libraries with a lot of ISBN materials.

Next up was, Cindy Trainor with a talk titled: “Are we there yet? Next generation library catalog enhancements: an assessment.” Cindi agree with Marshall Breeding (a summary I haven’t written yet) when he says that these next gene systems aren’t really there yet – there is still a long way to go. For that reason Cindi introduced us to her 4 very best websites using her own totally arbitrary system of rating.

Great websites need to have a combination of these 4 characteristics:

  • content – print, video, audio, etc
  • community – communication – power lies in it’s collectiveness – content created by a community in a community for a community
  • interactivity – a single website that people visit and interact with – searchability included in this
  • interoperability – APIs – things that let us pull data from multiple systems and merge them into one (Z39.50, RSS)

The more of these elements a site has the better it is – in Cindi’s opinion. Of her four best websites, Cindi went into detail about Flickr which scored a 26 on her scale (which had a max of 32 points). Flickr made it onto her top 4 because it met all of the criteria:

  • content (photos)
  • community (giant group of users)
  • interactivity (search, browse, never run into a dead end)
  • interoperability (interface into flickr that lets you go in and do other things with the content – badges, posters, flickr soduko, spell with flickr, flickr mashups)

The other top sites were Amazon scoring 26, Pandora scoring 20 and Wikipedia scoring 21.

So, where are the next gen catalog enhancements on this scale?

When you think about what a legacy OPAC looks like we have come a long way – but we still have a long way to go! Cindi showed us a Voyager OPAC and replaced most of the words with blah blah blah – because this is what our patrons see and Voyager scored a 2 using her fake rating system.

Last up was John Blyberg. John didn’t talk to us about our OPACs per say, but the system redressed.

John started with a quote from Robert Pirsig in “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance”:

“The overall name of these interrelated structures is system. The motorcycle is a system. A real system …There’s so much talk about the system. And so little understanding. That’s all a motorcycle is, a system of concepts worked out in steel … the motorcycle is primarily a mental phenomenon.”

He feels that we sort of fetishize our OPACs – the WowPac doesn’t exist – the fact that we can’t put it together is not that it’s hard to do – it has more to do with what sits behind the system. Like the motorcycle our systems are a mental phenomenon.

Consider the library work flow as container versus content – the OPAC is container – the content is then the information in the OPAC.

“I really wish we could get rid of the concept of OPAC – because of the system behind them our OPACs seem to get put into these little boxes – what happens to a plant if you put it in a pot that’s too small for it? It withers and dies and this is what’s going on with our OPACs – they’re being impaired by not getting to the content in our systems.” While I may not have gotten the quote exactly right – this is a really good image from John of what our OPACs are doing to our precious data.

John makes another great point that the OPAC really should be spilling out onto our websites and beyond – Facebook and Flickr and such – not just search boxes – but applications that can trigger based on page content. So if you’re on Facebook viewing something about Harry Potter you get a pop up or a column with library data related to the page you’re on.

We need an understanding of how information flows from point a-b – the term systems librarian is going to be obsolete because we’re all going to be systems librarians (in fact at Drexel, systems is a required course – so in their eyes, we already area). Systems does not have to do with technology only – but the system of our library (the processes we follow day to day).

John also reminds us that in today’s information ecology there is no destination = most people are online to experience information.

A great combination of viewpoints all in one place! I’m glad that I stayed in the room all day :)

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Keep Lib-web-cats up-to-date

A request for help posted to the Web4Lib List that I think might be of interest to you:

This is an appeal to the readers of Web4Lib to help me collect information regarding automation products used in libraries. I maintain the lib-web-cats database and use it as a tool for analysis of what automation products that libraries choose to purchase or implement. Lib-web-cats currently includes over 32,000 libraries worldwide. I believe that it’s important for libraries to have data regarding the adoption and migration patterns of these software products as they make decisions regarding their automation strategies. You can help in this effort by reviewing and updating the entry for your library in lib-web-cats, or submitting your library if it’s not already included.

While I try to carefully track ILS deployments, in this round of updates I’m especially interested in gathering data about the other genres of products such as link resolvers, federated search, electronic resource management, digital library tools, and next-gen interfaces. I’m interested in open source as well as traditionally licensed products. Current data regarding the population served by the library, number of items in the collection, and annual circulation helps in the analysis.

Please go to:
http://www.librarytechnology.org/libwebcats

lib-web-cats is a component of Library Technology Guides:
http://www.librarytechnology.org

I would also like to mention that the annual “Automation System Marketplace” article published by Library Journal is now available in the April 1, 2008 issue and online, this year subtitled “Opportunity out of Turmoil.” The data that I have in lib-web-cats is indispensable in writing this article to corroborate and expand upon what the vendors provide.

http://www.libraryjournal.com/article/CA6542440.html

I appreciate the assistance of Web4Lib.

-marshall

VALENJ: PINES & the Evergreen Open Source ILS

Elizabeth McKinney de Garcia, Program Director of Georgia PINES talked to us about how PINES decided to develop their own open-source ILS, Evergreen. Georgia PINES is made up of 49 public library systems which equates to 275 facilities and bookmobiles sharing a joint bibliographic database of nearly 9 million books.

About PINES

The PINES library card is free to residents of Georgia and can be used at any PINES library as if it were their home library. In addition, materials can be returned to any PINES library – how convenient!! ILL is available through entire system for card holders at no charge. All libraries in the system have the same policies so that patrons all have the same experience no matter what library they’re at.

In FY07 the system had more than 540,000 intra-pines loads as compared with just 6,000 in FY00. Patrons like the convenience of one system.

There is one easy to use interface across the board. Users have dramatically increased access to one centrally administered statewide combined library collection.

Time for a Change

When they looked at their contract with their vendor they found that they were writing their policies around the system (once again a reference to the culture of work arounds). In the end they had a bunch of silly policies such as how to enter a person’s name (last, first). They also found that their system was coming to a screeching halt because of the load of the users hitting the system at the same time. In short, it wasn’t meeting their needs.

After talking to nearly all the vendors they found that there really was no place for them to go – in short, they were cornered into making their own system.

Enter Evergreen

The entire development process took a little under 2 years. They had to decide where to put the line – their libraries had never been able to use acquisitions or serials so they didn’t develop that in the initial program. In short, their ILS was designed by librarians for libraries.

Georgia PINES went live in September 2006 with their new ILS, Evergreen. Unfortunately (or fortunately) the first day they had so many hits they came to a screeching halt – this was probably because of all of the press that was sent out to librarians!! :) Since then, things have been great.

Why Open Source

Elizabeth referred to open source as the difference between renting versus owning. By “owning” the software we’re responsible if the AC goes out or the roof leaks, but it’s a great place to be! We get what we need and we get what we want – don’t have to hope that in 2010 the feature we want will be up for a vote. In the end “owning” leads to an increase in control!

Conclusions

Another create example of how open source can solve a great many problems for libraries. I particularly like Elizabeth’s analogy of owning versus renting. In the end everyone owns the rights to the code behind the open source product, leading to more freedom and innovation.

I can give a personal example of this. When I was renting, I had to live surrounded by boring white walls and abide by rules like no pets and be considerate of your neighbors. Now that I own, I get have a house full of colorful walls and barking dogs!! I’m still considerate of my neighbors, but I don’t have to worry about playing music late at night or having the dogs wake up barking at 5am.

In short – owning your own place is a lot of hard work, but it leads to a more comfortable home (at least in my place).

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VALENJ: WALDO & the Koha Open Source ILS

John Stromquist, Executive Director of the WALDO Consortium talked to us about their decision to go with the Koha ILS and LibLime. WALDO is a multi-type library consortium. Of their membership, there are 12 full members (this means they have a shared ils), 11 associate members (this means they share a union catalog), 500+ regular academic members, and 400+ public members. WALDO helps libraries with vendor contracts, John said that “anything that saves librarians time is worth it.”

WALDO’s ILS History

From 1983-2004 the WALDO libraries used the PALS ILS (an open source forerunner that was owned and operated by librarians), but support was dropped in 2004 and they had to find a new alternative.

They decided not to follow the traditional procurement process for libraries which is to write the biggest RFP you can imagine – no less than 12,000 questions will do – the problem with this is that the vendors can lie faster than you can write – the problem with this is that after the fact you remember the things you forgot. This didn’t sound like the best option for finding a solution for their member libraries.

Instead they decided to assess the marketplace for the top 2 or 3 vendors, interview current customers (what a great idea), negotiate contracts with top vendors, and then make the award to vendor with best overall contract offering. The problem was that the second ILS they chose also ended up being sold out.

For the next decision making process, the executive board found other legacy systems equally undifferentiated and really not worthy of a migration efforts – what else could be considered? They decided that they needed to seriously consider open source – especially after Georgia PINES success with Evergreen, like WALDO, they are a large consortium with heavy loads.

Choosing Open Source

Requirements:

  • functionally equal to current system
  • hosting services
  • software maintenance (bug fixing)
  • applications development
  • 24 x7 help desk

Tipping points in choosing open source:

  • open source model itself – control and collaboration
  • standards based architecture
  • modern development capability (younger and capable of rapid development – have to be careful what you say to josh
  • because you make a suggestion and he goes home that night and implements it)
  • protection against vendor lock in

If they didn’t go with open source:

  • outsider ownership of legacy companies
  • troublesome legacy business models
  • near certainty of migration anyway (if you stay with the vendor you have)
  • diminished service levels (people aren’t happy with the level of service and they’re very vocal about it)
  • likely impact of open source commercial vendors (if they don’t go with open source, what will happen to legacy systems as open source becomes popular?)

John mentioned the same thing that Bob did, not many academic libraries are using open source. Right now, open source seems to be used more in the public arena, but WALDO wanted academic library support since that was their primary audience.

They had demos of both Koha Zoom and Evergreen. Koha Zoom presented the best architectural fit for WALDO by offering data and policy independence for each library. John also chose Koha because it was a more mature package overall.

Working with LibLime

WALDO and LibLime worked collaboratively during the initial meetings after making their decision. One day was spent with the librarians talking, sharing their needs with the LibLime folks and the other day was spent with LibLime addressing those needs and telling the librarians what they could do.

After these meetings, LibLime came back to WALDO to work with 6 libraries to make note of all of the requirements to meet their needs.

WALDO set pretty high expectations on LibLime, but the company stood up to the test and came back with what was requested in time. In the end, the time and cost proposals looked favorable to those at WALDO and so they made their final decision.

The Future

In addition to their contract for support with LibLime, WALDO is also paying for over $600,000 worth of development (course reserves – call slip processing – music collection requirements), $200,000 of which is being held for other uses like an ILL module. All of the development that has been planned will be done by August 2008 and then shared back with the community.

In addition to this initial development plan, WALDO is asking new subscribers to contribute to an open source development fund. The initial contribution level will be at 15% of direct subscription service costs. In the end the funds could exceed hundreds of thousands of dollars, all to be put toward developments that will later be shared with the entire Koha community.

Conclusions

John’s talk was pretty impressive. When you see the amount of money being thrown into proprietary systems that are fostering the culture of work arounds that Josh mentioned, and then you see what that same money can do in the open source environment, it’s amazing!! I’m really excited to see what other consortia like WALDO to for the open source community over the next few years.

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VALENJ: Koha Open Source Library System

Next up, LibLime‘s Joshua Ferraro. Josh talked to us about why LibLime was started and what both LibLime & Koha could do for libraries.

Joshua Ferraro
Originally uploaded by nengard

Why start LibLime?

Josh would often hear librarians saying that they liked the idea of open source, but we have no way to support it. So, Josh started LibLime to offer libraries support for open-source software in hopes that once the company was started that particular objection would disappear.

How LibLime Works

Open-source software is freely avaiable for download on the web – so why do we need LibLime? Like many other open source products (Linux for example) there are commercial entities that offer services for the software in question. LibLime is around to assist libraries in data migration, hosting, development, customization, training and support.

LibLime offers services for multiple open-source products. The key product to this day’s event was Koha, an open-source library system. As a customer of LibLime, ultimately you steer development for the system – if someone sponsors a change or upgrade, it gets rolled right back into the community – meaning we all benefit from each other’s participation. Another great thing about open source solutions like Koha is that implementation of these upgrades usually happen in days and week instead of years and decades (like some proprietary packages).

Has LibLime Worked?

Ask anyone in an open-source company and they’ll tell you that they’re very busy (I’ll tell you that I’m very busy!). In 2005, LibLime had 1 employee and 1 customer, as of March 2008, they have 18+ employees, hundreds of customers – a 400% growth (compounded for 3 years).

Customers are getting actively involved in the process. Freedom to innovate gives us a chance to change the culture in our libraries – we have become used to living in a culture of work arounds (us working around the way our software products are built) – open source gives us the chance to actually have software do what we want!

Conclusions

Josh mentioned that librarians often ask him, “Isn’t open source risky?” Josh answers “Isn’t any decision you make on an ILS risky? Especially in this environment with vendor consolidation – etc etc?” I totally agree – who knows where your ILS will be next year – or who will be controlling the development and the money! Why not have a product you can take with you to whomever you’d like as the landscape changes?

I have heard Josh speak several times – obviously – so I already knew I’d like this talk and agree with him – based on the question and answer session that followed his talk, I think others felt similarly.

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