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Koha and Libib.

The whole world is now computerised and increasingly turning to cloud computing, so it makes sense to consider a web based library management system. With budgets tight, schools want this to be as cheap as possible.


Koha is advertised as 'the most advanced open-source Integrated Library System in use today by hundreds of libraries worldwide.' Koha is web based, so there is no software to install and no large memory needed on the school's own computer drives. Koha is actually offered and managed by more than one company. The reasons for this are that a slightly different evolutionary path is taken by the different companies, but the main functions are one product.


Koha is open source, so people therefore think of it as a free resource. The software is free. If you know what to do after that, it could cost you very little. However, to do anything with it costs money. It is therefore quite misleading to think of it as an LMS that won't cost the school anything. The following is the quotation I received:

Koha support and hosting--up to 15,000 titles   2,950  [pounds sterling]
Installation and configuration                    950  [pounds sterling]
Implementation workshop                           950  [pounds sterling]
Training--system admin--basic (half day)          475  [pounds sterling]
Training--cataloguing (half day)                  475  [pounds sterling]
Training--circulation (half day)                  475  [pounds sterling]
Training--OPAC (half day)                         475  [pounds sterling]
Total                                           6,750  [pounds sterling]

The quotation mentions discount, so there must be room for manoeuvre. With many primary schools lucky to have a school library collection of 5,000 titles, perhaps that is where negotiation starts. However this price does not include the hardware of a barcode scanner or the barcodes.

Thereafter it would cost at least 2,950 [pounds sterling] per annum for hosting data and support. If you don't pay this, you lose access to your data. However, I was told that if you want to opt out, you can request your data back to migrate elsewhere.

Koha has many different customers. UK based ones include many universities, many NHS trusts, some public library authorities, the latest being Cheshire Shared Services, the National Archives and National Maritime Museum, but only one school. This is likely to be because of the cost.

Although there is an American bias, there is UK based support based in Manchester. Koha staff have experience in the ILS industry so are knowledgeable in the field.

The company started off in archives, but rapidly expanded beyond. It is still expanding. The umbrella company own WordPress--the blogging site most of us will know.

The selling points are an 'excellent OPAC, different, flexible modules, development which is second to none and it is fully mobile'. True, the OPAC looked sophisticated and comprehensive with many function buttons visible. However there is limited customisation--added school/library logos possible but little else, and absolutely no scope for making it more younger child-friendly.

Book jackets on the OPAC can be used via Amazon, Google Books or Library Thing. I'm guessing if you use Amazon, there will be advertising popping up which is unwanted in school (or at home for that matter). Koha does offer the usual functions of an LMS--acquisitions, circulation, cataloguing, serials and reports. The cataloguing may be more detailed than primaries require. There did not seem to be an automatic DDC number suggested, which in my experience primary school libraries without librarians need. You can upload borrower photos and update records for a new academic year. A library plan can be added.

The search capability offers the facility to compile public and private lists. The search function showed a virtual shelf, so you could see what else was available close by which was useful.The development of Koha relies on users requesting changes or new functions. A charge would be made to the institution requesting this, but once the change takes place, everyone benefits which is usual with open source. This can be done collaboratively if a number of schools got together who can then share the cost.

Technically, Koha is all that schools would need. However it is disingenuous to suggest it is a free resource. I am library literate, and moderately au fait with ICT, but not a technical wizard, and I was unable to access the software to test it out. I resorted to contacting the company and we had a demonstration. This meant I saw far more and discovered far more than I could have done myself. However, I had limited access to play around with the system. It did include getting a more accurate price for installation and training and subsequent running costs. For this reason alone I feel Koha has priced itself out of most primary school budgets. It may be comparable to other LMS companies for secondaries, but the end interface in my opinion is less attractive or flexible.


Libib is an alternative LMS, again advertised as a free resource--it is, but is only free for home use. To act as a lending/circulation system, there is a charge. In the free version it is little more than the equivalent of LibraryThing. You have the option to add either all books, all movies, all video games or all music, but not a combination. This is simply a more sophisticated spreadsheet catalogue of your book titles.


Libib Standard is really for individuals who want to keep track of their home library.

This gives users the ability to:

* Catalog up to 100,000 items

* Cloud sync

* Use a mobile app (iOS and Android)

* Produce statistics

* Connect and share with others

* Publish a list of your items

* Create online reviews

* Import / export your collection

* Keep detailed notes

* Tagging, grouping, basic editing.

However, for schools needing circulation, there is a cost: 3.52 [pounds sterling] per month or 42.25 [pounds sterling] per year. This includes:

Everything with a Libib Standard account plus:

* Multi-user management

* Lending / Circulation System

* Unlimited borrowers

* Expanded searching

* Custom branding for published libraries

* Multiple published library layout options

* Searchable published libraries (OPAC)

* Email reminders to borrowers

* Reservations

* Batch editing

* Add Books by Library of Congress Number, DDC, LCC, LCCN, and OCLC for books

* Support for custom barcodes

* Ability to edit everything

* COMING SOON: Lending via mobile app

Starting off, the home screen looks like this:

I opted to create a new 'library' --SLA@ict. I then could add books via ISBN or keyword which included title or author. It did automatically find the book's details. Again, a barcode scanner and barcodes would need to be purchased. To make the catalogue available to pupils, schools would need to tick the 'publish library' box, although could untick it whilst first adding stock to keep the library from the view of others.


Space to input Dewey in the free version must be the tagging box. However, as with Koha, a suggested DDC number is not suggested.


The Notes box could hold age range or price. Group could group materials together e.g. series.

There is a Purchase button, but in spite of putting in UK as location, this took me to

Above you can see just text, but this could be altered to just book covers, or both so books are easy to find. You can resort into title/author/date added/date published/rating order.


At this stage this is little more than a pretty excel file, and if you do have your data in this format it can be imported.

Libib offers statistics/reports and I assume a library plan could be added in another programme, e.g. Paint. Without accessing the chargeable version I was unable to see how much or how easy customisation of the interface/OPAC worked.

As you can see there really is 'no such thing as a free lunch'!

Dawn Woods, @worcsls, Manager Worcestershire SLS

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Title Annotation:ict@sla
Author:Woods, Dawn
Publication:School Librarian
Article Type:Product/service evaluation
Date:Sep 22, 2016
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