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Migrating from one system to another is a time-consuming process that poses the risk of losing essential data and functionality. While the specific steps involved will vary depending on the ILS you are coming from and the one you have chosen to move to, there are several things you can do to make the process go more smoothly.

Best Practices for Migration:


  • Spot check data (testing, during and after migration).  Catching problems early means less work trying to fix problems later. 
  • Write workflows and policies/rules beforehand.  Writing these while working on the test site should provide step-by-step instructions on how to do the final migration.
  • If working with a vendor, regular communication is important.  Having regular meetings ensures that everyone stays on the same page and prevents miscommunication that will slow down the process.  Again, having one or two people working with the vendor and then having them communicate with the rest of the library ensures a clear chain of communication and will prevent repetition with the vendor.
  • When migrating multiple libraries, staging the migration in waves makes things easier.  This is generally a situation in which it’s a state-wide consortium.  Usually there is a pilot migration of 4-8 libraries, then after that each wave gets a little bigger as the system becomes more practiced.  This can also be a useful model if the libraries involved in the consortium are accepting the migration at different rates.
  • If in a consortium that is coming from multiple ILS, having a vendor will make it easier.  This is not to say that it cannot be done without a vendor, but migrating from System A is going to be different than migrating from System B.  This increases the complexity, which can make working with a vendor more cost-effective.


  • Before doing any customization, make sure that it has not been done already.  Make sure that you are not reinventing the wheel.  The great thing about open source is that any development done by any library comes back to the community, so if you want something done, usually someone else does too. 
  • Look for partnerships.  Often if you want a specific development, someone else does too.  There are many advantages.  If your staff does not have the expertise, then you could provide more of the funding and the partner could provide the tech skills or vice versa.  Partnerships mean the development will cost less than if you did it alone. 
  • Grant money is another funding option.

Evergreen Migration Process | Koha Migration Process