Ramblings about library technology, open source software, and other adventures!


U.S. Academic Libraries switching to Koha in 2010 2011 January 4

Filed under: libraries,technology — ecorrado @ 06:01:15

One of the things that interested me in Marshall Breeding’s “ILS Turnover Reverse report from Library Technology Guides” was what libraries were switching to Koha. In particular I was interested in which academic libraries have switched to Koha in 2010. As commentators in my earlier blog post about my “Thoughts on Library Technology Guides’ ILS Turnover Report” there are some questions about the data. In my opinion, most of the questions – at least those about numbers – are more problematic outside of the United States and a few other countries. For some of the reasons behind this, see Marshall Breeding’s comment on my last blog post about this report where he discusses how he gathers the data used in this report. For that reason, I decide to limit this post to U.S. Academic Libraries that switched to Koha in 2010.

According to my count [1] 15 U.S. academic libraries switched to Koha from another ILS and one more, a trade school named Antonelli College, went from no ILS to using Koha. I was interested in looking at was the profiles of the schools, and in particular the number of volumes [2], and the type and size of patrons served. I was also interested in looking at what libraries are listed as being independently supported. To a lesser degree I wanted to see if there was anything particularly interesting in who academic libraries were choosing to acquire Koha support from.

All of the U.S. academic libraries switching to Koha have less then 140,000 volumes (at least as far as I can tell) [3]. The two largest are in the New York City metro area and are getting support from Liblime. It is possible (likely?) that they are using Koha via WALDO consortium which has a partnership with PTFS/LibLime. The only other U.S. Academic library to switch in 2010 that has more then 100,000 volumes is D’Youville College. D’Youville is listed as independent, however the demo video on their Website of their new catalog shows that they are hosted via PTFS/LibLime as well and may possibly also be contracting through WALDO [4]. In other words, the larger U.S. academic libraries that moved to Koha in 2010 are doing so via LibLime/PTFS and I am pretty sure they are using “Liblime Enterprise Koha” and not the Open Source version. According to the Liblime Website, Liblime Enterprise Koha enhancements include many acquisitions enhancements and enhanced authority control. Here I need to plead ignorance of recent Koha developments in this area and of how “enhanced” Liblime Enterprise Koha really is in these areas, but from previous experience, these were areas of that I am under the impression that the Open Source version needs some development to attract larger academic libraries [5]. Many libraries still do not use acquisitions within the ILS or make extensive use of authority records (any use?). So these are not always a high priority when selecting an ILS in smaller libraries. However when you start getting closer to medium sized academic libraries they become more of an issue. In other words, I am not surprised that the U.S. academic libraries that are switching to Koha are small academic libraries, and that the larger ones that are migrating are switching to Liblime Enterprise Koha. Although the largest of the bunch selected Liblime, ByWater did attract some schools with volume counts that were not much smaller. Goddard College, for example, has 97,000 volumes and two others have about 75,000 records.

Besides D’Youville, the other library that is listed as independent is University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. This is the third largest in terms of volume counts to make the switch on 2010. I wanted to check there catalog to see what it looked liked, but it is currently unavailable. If they truly are independent, it would be interesting to here about there experiences migrating to Koha.

The academic libraries that migrated serve a diverse type of schools. There is trade schools, 2 year community colleges, 4 year schools, graduate schools, and seminaries. Therefore it doesn’t look like the type of college or university being served is a factor for those who have selected Koha.

Of the schools that switched to Koha, 4 were using Koha, 3 Unicorn, 2 Horizon. Single schools had EOS.Webm Vurtua, Winnebego Spectrum, Athena, and Millennium.

[1] Defining what is an academic library can be tricky sometimes. While it is easy to say Binghamton University Libraries, for example, is an academic library, there are places that fall into the gray area like trade schools, advanced research institutes, etc. Also, if a school is based in the United States, but the library is in London as part of a undergraduate program, is it a U.S. academic library (FWIW: In this case I said no). So, you might count more or less libraries than I. However, for purposes of this inquiry, I don’t think it is a factor since the ones I didn’t include really weren’t “outliers” in terms of size or scope.

[2] I used a variety methods to get volume counts. Mostly though, I looked at what the libraries self-reported wither on Library Technology Reports or somewhere else

[3] There was one larger academic library to make the switch in the United Kingdom. Staffordshire University has approximately 180,000 volumes and switched to Koha with support from PTFS-Europe.

[4] This demonstrates some of the concerns members of the Koha community have with whether or not the self-reporting of Koha service providers is accurate

[5] As I mentioned in the past I do support a Koha install for a small collection (> 1000 records). I did look at some of these issues briefly while installing Koha and migrating items to the new install. I didn’t notice anything that made me think these features are not still lacking compared to their proprietary counterparts, but I did not look closely, so I may be wrong and I welcome any information that shows me they can do the same things, as streamlined, as something like Millennium, Voyager, or Aleph.


3 Comments for this post

Melissa Hofmann Says:

Informative post, Edward. In the research Sharon Yang and I conducted (to be published in Library Hi Tech in 2011), we found that in a random sample of 260 academic libraries in the United States and Canada (10% of the population; data was collected from September 2009 through July 2010), which yielded 233 unique OPACs, only three were instances of Koha.

MJ Ray Says:

Is it common for US academic libraries to limit purchases to systems already in use at other institutions?

I feel that was a barrier to entry to the UK Higher Education market, exacerbated by a mistake in the co-op’s early contract where we didn’t request permission to name our clients. We installed our first UK HE library Kohas about five years ago, but couldn’t make a big noise about it (which was OK… we had enough work back then). There are also practical barriers as well as policy ones, such as several places procuring against a specification drawn up with input from only old suppliers.

I think we’re finally overcoming both of those barriers… and not before time!

ecorrado Says:

MJ: I am not surprised about the barrier caused by the procurement specifications used to get new systems. This has been a huge issue in the United States. Obviously this has a huge effect on Open Source systems, but it also leads to problems with proprietary systems. The overhead is enormous and very wasteful and basically all it does is add costs. Carl Grant (then President & COO of VTLS) and Roland Deitz (then President & CEO at Endeavor) brought this up in a really good article called “The Dis-Integrating World of Library Automation.” While the article is now over 5 years old, I think it is still very poignant about some of the issues in the library software marketplace.