Social Networking from within the OPAC

Part of the overhaul that the NExpress Shared Catalog OPAC received (courtesy of Liz) included the addition of buttons to Like and comment on a book in Facebook or Tweet the URL of the item.  Both just passed my tests and here are the results…

From the Details page of an item (where the holdings table is found) in the Online Catalog…

If you are friends with me on Facebook, this is what you will see if I “Like” a title:

If you are not friends with me, you see this:

You can also post directly to Facebook from within the Catalog and “Like” the item:

Finally, you can Tweet:

Kudos to Koha, as well, for giving us such an awesome OPAC.

Koha Community Here We Come!

Like good little tortoises and hares, we’ve been racing towards our migration to Koha Community with Bywater Solutions and we reach the finish line tomorrow night.  After a relaxing brunch, I plan to be at the Bonner Springs City Library at the open of business on Sunday to celebrate.

We have learned many useful lessons from our many upgrades and this migration:

  1. Follow your testing priorities and delegate – Heather covered Cataloging, Liz managed SIP and scripting the data download/upload process, and Mickey and I tested Koha within an inch of its life
  2. Be in contact with your migration team – conference calls, chat, skype – we used them all!
  3. Learn to love the Bugzilla ticketing system
  4. Steal from the Koha 3. 4 Manual
  5. Communicate with your stake-holders, like libraries open on Sunday and who use SIP
  6. Pay attention to new System Preferences, like “HomeOrHoldingBranchReturn”
  7. Get re-acquainted with Koha Bugzilla – there are a lot of bugs we need to be aware of
  8. Have realistic expectations – Yes, there are bugs we discovered during our testing this week and last week that will bother our libraries, but not enough to postpone the migration
  9. Make lists – Liz has a rather large one of stuff to do Saturday night and Sunday morning related to geek stuff that I don’t even try to comprehend
  10. Stay positive – we are very excited to be returning to the Koha Community where we can impact the project in a meaningful way.

Kete and Digital content

That’s Joann Ransom, Head of Libraries, Horowhenua Library Trust (read her blog).  I found her 7 minute interview with Kathryn Greenhill Inspiring AND right on track with what I heard from the IL keynote and Joan Frye Williams.  I love the part about the quilts and quilters and the story of the gentleman who knew all about farm equipment, but not computers, but still sat down and added detailed descriptions to Kete Horowhenua.

Kete Horowhenua – “A knowledge basket of images, audio, video and documents which are collected and catalogued by the community.”

Kete – Open Source software developed by Katipo, Communications

DigitalNZ – “DigitalNZ is an initiative that aims to make New Zealand digital content easy to find, share and use.”

Horowhenua Library Trust developed Koha and their shiny, new 3.2 Catalog is beautiful AND they have seamlessly integrated their Koha OPAC with the the Library’s Web page.  We’ll have to ask Chris Cormack more about that, he’s the developer at Catalyst IT (formerly with <katipo>).

KohaCon 2010

Update: Nicole is live-blogging the event.  The conference started Monday in New Zealand, which was Sunday in Kansas…about 3 pm to 11 pm or so our time was 9 am to 5 pm, the next day, in the land of the kiwis.

Two of my staffers in New Zealand for KohaCon 2010.  I was looking at the program today and wish I could hear Lee talk about her migration from Winnebago to Koha at Butte.  I see that Paul is on the agenda giving the “brief history” speech Chris gave in 2009 and instead of Galen, he is talking about 3.4…a Release Manager’s duty, I guess.  Love to say that I’ve met, ate, and drank with all of these fine folks at the Plano, Texas KohaCon.

Oooh, I will have to get Liz to take notes on this one:

eBooks: Why they break ISBNs
Stuart Yeates

A view of eBooks from an administrative and cataloging point of view, focusing on how some of the current practices around unique identifiers and organisation of content by media is going to be challenged.

Have fun!  I’ll be watching the Live Feed and Twitter.

Proud to say NEKLS is a Sponsor.

Next Available v. Item Level Holds

For the NExpress Users Group meeting, I will be talking about the very unscientific results of an ‘unrestricted holds flow test’ – meaning, I picked 5 titles and recorded their holds for 6 weeks.  Each Monday morning, I’d take a snapshot of the status table and Holds priority list for Fantasy in Death, Big Girl, Worst Case, Going Rogue and I, Alex Cross.

During this review, we discovered:

  • The simultaneous holds bug (4373), which we sent to Support in December 2009 but were able to replicate and record (using Jing!) for a bug report.  This is a rather significant find and will require some major changes in how Koha functions.
  • We also see problems with how Koha picks an item to fill a hold when a Library has one copy of the title cataloged with a restricted item type and another copy with an unrestricted item type.  Sometimes the restricted item shows up on the Pick List with instructions to ship it to another library.  That’s not suppose to happen.
  • We also learned more about how the priority list behaves – namely, that when an item has been ‘picked’ and ‘assigned’ to fill a hold, the Priority List goes funny (bug 3344).  We brought this to Galen’s attention and there is a new interim status in 3.2 for items in transit, but not yet waiting (I think – I can’t find my screen shot for this).
  • We also worked with the Cataloging committee to find a better way to catalog On Order items – it seems that in some cases, restricted hold rules weren’t being followed on items that were first cataloged with the On Order item type and then later changed to Local Hold or Walk-in.  Actually, Walk-in behaves ok, but Local Hold is still kind of problematic.
  • Expired holds need to be managed a bit better – many times there were books tied up on a holds shelf for 14 days, rather than being moved on to the next waiting patron.
  • Item level holds (not associated with restricted item types) are BAD, BAD, BAD and lead to unnecessary wait times for patrons.

As to “The Test” – On average, a patron’s hold request advances one place in the priority list each day, or 7 places in a week.

  • Patron A went from 33rd to 19th to 10th to checked out in 4 weeks on a ‘Next Available’ title-level hold while
  • Patron B went from 21st to 12th to 7th to waiting in 4 weeks on an “Only item” item-level hold.
  • Patron C went from 27th to 19th to 12th to waiting in 4 weeks on a title-level hold
  • For Worst Case, which had the most available copies, the average went up to 14 places in 7 days.

As a ‘control’ – I used House Rules and in 6 weeks, Patron A went from 52nd t o 5th place – if my math is right, that’s 47 places in 6 weeks or an advancement of about 7.8 places per week.  That’s on a title-level hold.  For the Patron B who had an item-level hold, they went from 9th to 3rd in 9 weeks!

More about Koha 3.2

There is a General Koha Meeting today to talk about a number o’ issues, including 3.2.  Galen shared release notes, so I thought I’d go through them and give my comments…in hopes of making these stick in my brain:

ACQUISITIONS [Yawn, sorry…not something little public libraries use]

  • the acquisitions module has been significantly revamped:
    • support for hierarchical funds and budgets
    • budget planning by calendar and item type
    • vendor contract periods

ADMINISTRATION [Yeah! I know Jesse put a lot of work into the sys prefs and they are much easier to use.]

  • significant usability enhancements to the system preferences editor
  • many additional granular permissions

CATALOGING [Yeah! We have been waiting patiently for many of these, especially bulk item edit.]

  • bulk item editing [Doubleplus good]
  • revamped inventory/stocktaking
  • ability to export bibliographic information in CSV format from the staff cart
  • new quick spine label print button
  • support for temporary location and in-process item statuses
  • usability enhancements to cataloging workflow:
    • can now choose whether to edit items after saving a bib record
    • option to move an item from one bib to another [Awesome!  We can start cleaning up the catalog!!!]
    • option to delete all items attached to a bib [Scary, but in a good way.]
    • ability to clone an item [Woot!]

CIRCULATION [Can’t wait to test, play, test, repeat]

  • ability to define library transfer limits
  • email checkout slips
  • option to enable alert sounds during checkin and checkout [OMG – We finally have Sound Cues!!!]
  • improvements in Koha’s ability to express circulation policies
  • option to charge fines using suspension days instead of money [Interesting, I wonder if any of folks would want?]
  • hold policies are now on the branch/itemtype/categorycode level [Yeah, finally some of the sys groups stuff]
  • renewal policies are now on the branch/itemtype/categorycode level [GREAT!!!  Again, long promised, now delivered]
  • ability to specify an expiration date for a hold request when placing it via the staff interface or OPAC [Yes, but what will it do and how will staff know that the hold has expired and needs to be sent to the next patron and/or sent home for shelving?]
  • daily batch job to cancel expired holds [Again, how will this work from a practical work-flow point of view? I see testing in my future.]
  • improvements to interface to change the priority of hold requests for a bib in the staff interface [Anything holds related is doubleplus good.]
  • new messaging system for patron records, allowing an unlimited number of patron notes to be stored and managed

OPAC [Oh Please Add Content – as in, we don’t have the ability for Amazon added content in our current install, but know it’s only a few short upgrades away from us.]

  • additional patron privacy options [Always a good thing]
  • numerious enhancements to the bib display XML templates [Again, always a good thing]
  • per-patron OPAC search history, with ability for patrons to manage the retention of their search history [Circ history opt out – woot, woot]
  • support for Syndetics, LibraryThing, and Babeltheque enhanced content [Yippee, alternatives and more content]
  • support for RIS and BibTeX export [No clue, but I bet it’s great.]


  • guided reports can now take runtime parameters [Anything else?  Reports are a time suck/black hole for me]

SERIALS [We want to use this, can we now?  I need to check the Documentation to see if we will be able to set up some subscriptions for testing]

  • can now specify the subscription end date, library location, and grace periods [These sound good]
  • option to automatically place hold requests for members of a serials routing list
  • numerous bugfixes


  • the cart has been added to the staff interface [Cool – for those patrons who give you a list of books to reserve]
  • enhanced patron card and item label creator
  • support for XSLT templates in the staff bib details display [BEST. ENHANCEMENT. EVER.  Go Diego Go be gone!]

WEB SERVICES AND INTERFACE [Hmm, maybe Liz knows what this means?]

  • integration with SOPAC, including support for various web services defined by the ILS-DI recommendation
  • support for CAS single sign-on
  • improvements to OAI-PMH support


It takes a village to raise an ILS (again, from Galen’s email to the Koha list):

We thank the following libraries who are known to have sponsored
new features in Koha 3.2:

  • Aix-Marseille Universities, France
  • BrailleNet (
  • BULAC, France (
  • East Brunswick Public Library, East Brunswick, New Jersey, USA
  • Foundations Bible College & Seminary, Dunn, North Carolina, USA
  • Hochschule für Jüdische Studien, Heidelberg, Germany (
    • XSLT changes to display 880 fields
  • Howard County Library, Maryland, USA (
  • MassCat, Massachussetts, USA
  • Middletown Township Public Library, Middletown, New Jersey, USA
  • Northeast Kansas Library System, Kansas, USA
  • Plano Independent School District, Plano, Texas, USA
  • SAN Ouest Provence, France
  • vokal (Vermont Association of Koha Automated Libraries),
  • Vermont, USA

Joy of Statistics…or How I Spent My Friday

We have 173 saved reports in Koha.  That’s a lot.  How many are current? How many are still used? How many even work?  I haven’t a clue.  Regardless, I added  a few more yesterday when I went to visit Basehor.  As a District Library that has to take any mil levy increase to the tax payers for a vote, it’s important for them to have a useful strategic plan and meaningful statistics to prove that they’re reaching their goals.  That’s what I was doing yesterday – trying to figure out how to get 2009 Circ Stats out of the catalog that met their needs AND could be run without getting a Gateway Timeout error!  The Circulation Wizard is bunk – wasn’t before we added 7 new libraries, but now I guess we’ve reached the wizard’s carrying capacity and it’s feet up except early in the morning or late in the evening.  Not terribly useful…but our support vendor is working on it, I think (hope and pray).

Here’s what we came up with – we search the Statistics table for items issued and renewed at their location that have call numbers LIKE ‘insert example here%’ – we made judicious use of OR statements (thank you #kohakansas for your help with that) and the % wildcard character.

We did discover that because Basehor has a unique call number scheme of DVF for their movies, our report was not counting many movies circed at their branch that came from other libraries.  We debated and decided that for what they need – proof that their adult media goal is being met – the missing circs wouldn’t matter.  It was a lively debate and I really enjoyed it.  Carla certainly has a strong team at their library and encourages everyone to voice their opinion.

I may add these to the SQL library.  Will be asking folks tomorrow for help with adding a date range – need to run this for the first quarter of 2009 and I can’t whip out the code for that…

SELECT count(*) FROM statistics
LEFT JOIN items on (items.itemnumber = statistics.itemnumber)
LEFT JOIN biblioitems on (biblioitems.biblioitemnumber = items.biblioitemnumber)
WHERE statistics.type IN (‘issue’, ‘renew’) AND YEAR(datetime) = ‘2009’
AND statistics.branch = ‘BASEHOR’ AND items.itemcallnumber LIKE ‘DVF%’
OR statistics.type IN (‘issue’, ‘renew’) AND YEAR(datetime) = ‘2009’
AND statistics.branch = ‘BASEHOR’ AND items.itemcallnumber LIKE ‘CD F%’
OR statistics.type IN (‘issue’, ‘renew’) AND YEAR(datetime) = ‘2009’
AND statistics.branch = ‘BASEHOR’ AND items.itemcallnumber LIKE ‘CDF%’

PTFS Acquires LibLime (for real this time)

So yesterday at about 4 pm, Heather comes into the Lab, where Mickey and I were working on mapping Osage City’s data for a May migration, and tells us that PTFS bought LibLime.  She heard about it as a lurker in the #kohakansas irc channel.  Wow…

We are still processing this information and gathering as much information as we can.  So far, we have the PTFS  press release and an LJ article and we are waiting for more feedback on the koha email list.

It’s apparent that an important indicator of the future will be the v. issue.  One is basically proprietary at this point and the other is under the care of the Community.

I’m doing my best to be patient and optimistic.  What we really want is a working, up-to-date ILS.  I don’t think that’s asking for too much and I’m sure we’ll get it in time.  In the mean time, we have a library to migrate.

Things I like about Koha 3.2

A random list of cool stuff, bugs and other thoughts from Friday’s lab session with Mickey and Liz.  We were in testing mode.

  • [+] next to a patron search that lets you limit by library location and/or patron category
  • Getting the circ and fine rules set up appropriately is time consuming but incredibly important if you want to place holds!
  • A few minor issues with placing multiple holds at once via the cart – if a bib has no items, FAIL…and if a bib has rules that disallow a hold, FAIL or if a bib has items with incorrectly-configured circ and fine rules, FAIL – bugs.  all fixable.
  • Lost items aren’t stored in the items table.  odd – where are they stored then?
  • Batch modification – all of the drop down menus need to default to nothing, so you don’t accidentally overlay a new homelocation or currentlocation when all you want to do is update the item type or collection code!
  • Holds waiting – item type in parens, so when you go to the holds shelf you know if you’re looking for movies or books! – good deal
  • Audio cues thanks to HTML5 – Owen just announced that and shared the git repo link on Twitter
  • Cancel hold in transit bug is still there…but I hear Galen is actively working on this.
  • Staff Client now has XSLT, which means that subfields in the 245 show up (or will when the bug is fixed) in the search results and details page.  No more guessing which Naruto or Go Diego Go book you want!

Update October 2010: ByWater has a list of some of their favorite features and Chris’s post about ‘Changelog for 3.2