Thursday, April 28, 2011

What Has Been Happening in Arcadia?

Sorry it's taken so long for the next blog. Arcadia Public Library has been up on Koha for 4 1/2 months now. Cathi and I have received serveral questions concerning our foray into open source but just the day to day operations of the Library has kept us away from this blog.

While we have had many issues with Koha, wishing that the system worked "just like the old ILS" we believe that the migration was the right answer for us. I am enclosing some of the questions that we have recently answered:

  • Is Koha answering our needs? For the most part, yes. We are able to do circulation, search the catalog, catalog new material. It has been very easy to use, in fact training is accomplished much faster than with our previous system.

  • Have you resolved most of your problems? We have, or at least we are learning how to do some tasks differently. Receipt printing, while it works, it still has some bugs, for us. (We were told that it isn't a Koha problem, rather a browser problem. At the moment we are using IE but want to experiment with browsers.) Holds, sometimes it gives the new title to the second person in line, not the first. ( We think this might have been a migration issue.) Collecting fines is rather clunky. Taking a partial payment for an item is not available, so workarounds were developed. The Authorities functions are very limited. (I know that this frustrates the catalogers more than anything but then again they are making do. ) The catalogers feel that everything takes longer with Koha. Reports - there are several reports available for staff to use, also we can use MySQL reports that others have set up (available on the Koha wiki.) It still takes us awhile to tweak the reports for what we want. Luckily, ByWater Solutions, will write any reports that we need as part of our contract. Notices- We sent our email reminders, items due, long overdue, and holds from the beginning. Finally in late March we started sending our printed notices. Acquisitions- This doesn't work the way we want it to... it would mean loading bibrecords twice, once for Acquisitions and then for the catalog. The system doesn't work with any of the materials vendors yet. (We use Baker and Taylor primarily.) And finally, we are the first Koha library that sends collection information to Unique Management Services. We "think" we have this finally ironed out. We started sending this information on April 1.

  • Would you do this again? Yes, knowing what we know now, we would still opt for open source. While Koha doesn't have every little feature that SirsiDynix had, we just couldn't afford them anymore. Every time we wanted to add a SIP device there was additional costs and maintenance costs were high. And, we are really pleased with the customer service that we now receive. Since December we have had three large patches to the system to resolve some of our initial problems.

I hope that I'm not painting too rosy a view of the system. We have had some performance issues. There are times when the staff complains about the slowness of the system. And we have had three times where the system froze on us for around 20-40 minutes. (The last time this happened was at least a month ago and ByWater went in and checked for issues. I believe that the problem had to do with MySQL... not Koha.) This Saturday evening, ByWater Solutions and Cathi will be upgrading some of our server and application software to give us better performance. I'll leave it up to Cathi to explain what happened.


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