- Getting Started
Koha ILS was created in 1999 and released in 2000 by Katipo Communications in New Zealand and is now being used in libraries of all types across the globe. In the US, a consoritum of over 25 libraries in Vermont has migrated to Koha. Support options are available primarily through the commercial vendors LibLime (whose source code has diverged from that of the Koha community) and ByWater Solutions. Some of Koha's useful features include a simple interface, web 2.0 capabilities, and customizable search. It is generally used in smaller libraries.
Katipo Communications, the original developer of Koha, provides a more detailed list of key features, including the following: platforms for Linux, Unix, Windows, and Macintosh; integration with websites; copy cataloging functionality; MARC21 and UNIMARC support; flexible cataloging modules for special libraries; digital library capability; management of online and off-line resources together; RSS feed of acquisitions; emailing and texting notices to patrons; printing barcodes; a developed serials management module; the option to choose a simple or comprehensive acquisitions module; and the updating of multiple modules simultaneously.
From the library's perspective, other notable features include searching the catalog with misspelled words; sorting searches by popularity, author, call number, dates, and title; allowing patrons to decide whether or not to save their checkout history; allowing patrons to refine their searches with a convenient side bar; allowing patrons to create public or private book lists; listing item availability on the search screen rather than having to open the record; allowing patrons to virtually "browse the shelves"; allowing patrons to keep track of new items in an RSS feed; and placing books on hold from the patron's record.
The overall cost of migrating to, implementing, and maintaining Koha depends on the size of the library. Initial cost ranges from $250 for a library with less than 100 items to $20,000 for a library with over 1 million items. You can also think of initial cost in terms of the number of patrons, in which case it ranges from over $1,000 for less than 100 patrons to around $50,000 for 25,000-100,000 patrons. In any case, you may be saving from from $2,000 to $200,000 in start-up costs compared to a proprietary ILS. In terms of annual costs, they tend to be about $1,500-$2,000 a year except for in very large libraries where costs can reach $15,000. Again, annual savings compared to a proprietary ILS range from $2,000 to $50,000. See this dissertation for additional information.