The EIFL-FOSS ILS project provided an opportunity for libraries within the EIFL network to evaluate and potentially migrate to a free and open source software (FOSS) integrated library system (ILS). It promoted direct engagement with the FOSS communities of a chosen ILS. We hope it also laid the groundwork for a mutual support network across EIFL for further libraries investigating migration to a FOSS ILS.
The Case Studies
Following a general call for participation in early 2008, 7 sites were selected for pilots that represented a wide range of libraries and regions. The 4 pilot sites for Koha case studies were:
- National Scientific Library, Georgia
- Koha Case Study from Mzuzu University, Malawi
- Koha Case Study from Library of the Faculty of Medicine Pharmacy and Dentistry, University of Bamako, Mali
- An-Najah National University Library, Palestine (West Bank)
2010 Updates to Koha ILS Case Studies
- Mzuzu University, Malawi, has become a popular training ground for Koha, and the lessons learned from the project have been integrated into the University's Bachelor's Degree programme in Library and Information Science. Most institutions in the MALICO network have now used at least the cataloguing module, with some having extended further to the circulations, OPAC, acquisitions and reports modules. Presentation at EIFL 2010 GA by Lidia Chiotha Head of Central Library Services, University of Malawi, (MALICO) (PPT).The original Malawi Koha case study can be downloaded here: (PDF)
- Library of the Faculty of Medicine Pharmacy and Dentistry, University of Bamako, Mali, has not yet proceeded with full automation for two reasons. Both are infrastructure issues: - The server used was an old PIII. It was not powerful enough to support a large scale deployment. It was very slow even when only the technician was accessing Koha. - The library did not have Public access computers to allow users to access the OPAC, nor a network to interconnect the computers. Since last year some progress has been made regarding these issues. A more powerful "server" has been acquired (it is not actually server but a decent, recent PC (2,8GHz)and has Linux and Koha now installed on it). It should also be possible to now deploy public computers in the library since network cables have been laid and also Wi-Fi installed. There is still one problem in that sufficient staff are not skilled in cataloguing to proceed quickly with that task, and this is the final issue being addressed before full migration should theoretically be possible. The original Koha case study from Mali can be downloaded here:(PDF)
- An-Najah National University Library, Palestine, is still considering implementing Koha, but is struggling with server configuration. They are also investigating other FOSS library tools, including web-based authentication and remote access software, journals URL link resolvers and others. So perhaps the story has not ended with Koha and more developments will occur in the future.
Each pilot library participating in the project was invited to participate in an intensive technical training workshop in Yerevan, Armenia, in June 2008. Unanticipated logistical difficulties prevented our colleagues from Palestine participating in this workshop. Regrettably, the Palestine pilot eventually chose to postpone its participation until a later date.
The above case studies attempt to capture learning points from each of the pilot sites. Each pilot revealed distinctly different challenges and opportunities. And so the learning points from each are largely unique though clearly with some relevance to each other. At present, the pilot in Georgia remains inconclusive; they have faced severe technical challenges with Koha that were unique to their situation and, at least for now, irresolvable.
We hope they will soon either be able to resolve this technical difficulty or decide to change courses with regard to their preferred ILS. But this too is a learning point and proves the value of piloting and testing software first prior to committing your library to it.
We hope these learning points may prove advantageous for the An-Najah National University Library, Palestine, when it embarks on its initial foray into trialling a FOSS ILS as they may for others.