Monday, January 17, 2011

Koha Concerns

As we have reminded our staff, there have "always" been issues when we've migrated to a new integrated library system (ILS). But memories are often selective. Change continues to bother some of our staff. While we are making headway with many of our migration problems, there are still some bothersome issues to be resolved in the future.
  • The Slowness of the System: This happens sporadically throughout the day but at this point we can't pinpoint what the issue is. On January 12, around 5:45pm until 6:00pm, the Circulation workstations slowed down so much that the staff felt they should log out and log in again. The Children's staff noticed this too. However, most staff have had occasions where they wait for the system to catch up before going on to the next search. Cathi is thinking that it might have to do with indexing that happens throughout the day... but we aren't sure.

  • Diacritics - We are encountering issues with searching by title when there are diacritics in it-we can't find the record, however by keyword it pops right up. Also there are problems with linking authority records that contain diacritics.

  • Self-Check Machines - We have added separate SIPs for each of our machines so they do not timeout any longer, but another issue has appeared. We have noticed that there are certain bar codes that can crash the self-check stations, but they don't crash the regular check-out stations. We have discovered that these bar codes are part of the diacritics issue (see item above).

  • Downloadable Audio Books - We added another SIP for our MyILibrary . There seems to be an issue with authenticating through our external IP address from the Ingram site. We hope to work this out soon since we are paying for this service and not able to use it.

  • Bookdrop - We use the bookdrop check-in function in the morning so that we won't charge patrons for materials they have dropped off over night. We have noticed that this function doesn't always work properly. Sometimes it charges a fine, while at other times it doesn't. We're not sure if we trust it.

  • Authorities - Links within bib records that are selected by catalogers are "unlinking" over the weekend when the "linking bibs to authorities" script is run. The documentation hasn't been helpful in determining exactly how Koha uses authority records and how the linking works.

  • Holds - 1) Holds may remain on the patron's record, even though the item is checked out to the patron. 2) A hold notice may be sent to two patrons for the same item. The patron that is "first" on the list is usurped by the second person. Since this happens sporadically, we are not able to duplicate this... yet. 3) Sometimes the hold is not caught by the system... patrons really get upset when they find their book on the shelf. [Some of this "may" be staff error, we're just not sure.]

  • Receipt Printing - We are currently using IE for circulation functions since we couldn't get the printing to work at all from Firefox or Chrome. We would really like the receipts to print automatically but for now we must select the Print function for each individual receipt. Currently, Circulation makes date due slips to pass out since the procedure mentioned above slows them down.

  • Collections - We use Unique Management Services for credit reporting. So far we haven't been able to run a satisfactory report to track patrons currently on the list, add overdue patrons to the list nor to remove them from the list after paying their fines. Part of the issue is that the Patron Attribute fields, though intended to be searchable, are not and that makes finding these delinquent patrons difficult. Another part of the issue is that once the delinquent patrons begin paying down their balances we're not able to easily track and record that activity. There have been some suggestions from ByWater Solutions but no success yet. [Shhhh... don't tell our patrons!]

  • Reports - We are still fine tuning reports. ByWater Solutions has helped out by setting up some SQL Reports for us but in some cases we have found that the canned reports work just as well. I find Holds Queue, Holds to Pull, Hold Ratio specifically helpful.

  • Migration Issue - We had around 6,000 items that were migrated to the "Book Cart" location because their location in the old system didn't translate properly into the new one. David Dolim, one of our Reference Librarians, ran a report so we knew what was in the Book Cart location. Then, Cathi, using the "Batch Item Modification" utility moved these items to their correct shelving location. I really love this feature! It made a very time consuming task much more manageable. We have found all sorts of other uses for this utility.

  • Bookcover Images - We have paid for a subscription to Syndetics Solutions for bookcovers and reviews, etc. but I have been frustrated that it is so unsatisfactory. When I compared our old catalog with the new, many more images loaded onto the SirsiDynix OPAC than into the Koha OPAC. We have been unable resolve this problem.

Of course, none of these are deal breakers. We are still pleased with our decision to go with Koha. I'm hoping that these problems will be resolved quickly and that staff will continue to adapt to those procedures that are new.


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