The Crawford County Federated Library System (CCFLS) is pleased to announces the installation of Koha Zoom Intergrated Library System (ILS) catalog and circulation program at system headquarters, Meadville Public Library (MPL).

What does Koha stand for? It means “gift” in the Maori language of New Zealand. Libraries from around the world have developed and shared this gift for the past seven years. Now CCFLS is using this gift, Koha, to manage the everything we do at the library. It keeps track of the library catalog, patron information, and the transaction data between patrons and the materials. The new system is all web based and is designed to incorporate library standards. Anyone with access to the Web can now search what books are available and their status, all in real time.

John Brice, System Administrator, explained other improvements in Koha Zoom, “The most noticeable new feature is instant access of library account information from home. From the web each patron can access their library card information, including how many books they have checked out or how much in fines they owe. Of course, all account information is password protected. When searching for materials, pictures of the books appear on the result screens. In some cases, links to Amazon.com will allow patrons to read scanned samples of the book. Anyone can now go to http://catalog.ccfls.org and use it.”

The Crawford County Federated Library Sytem made the decision to use Koha after evaluating both open source and commercial software packages. Open Source software is free software that anyone can modify and distribute. After determining the old software was completely obsolete, we decided to evaluate available library management software. No commercial or Open Source ILS answered our needs.” said Brice. “Koha had the best mixture of features along with the ability to allow us to modify the program to meet our needs. The advantage between Open Source and commercial software is that you can modify open source software to meet you policies and procedures, instead of modifying your policies and procedures to meet the software’s capabilities.

Brice explained one concept of Open Source, “we can add features to the program by either developing it ourselves or contracting a support company. In fact, CCFLS did just that during the past year. The original Koha program did not run fast enough. So we hired Liblime, based in Athens, Ohio, to enhance the program, resulting in the new Koha Zoom program. Since we sponsored Koha Zoom other libraries from around the world can now benefit from it.”

Asked how much money was saved by using “free” open source software, Brice stated “although the cost of the Koha program itself was zero, CCFLS still invested the same amount of money as if we had used a commercial program. We had the cost of enhancing Koha, and purchasing of computer servers and network equipment. Overall the total cost will be about $45,000.”

CCFLS decided to use its own staff for setup, data migration and support. “we could have hired a company like Liblime to manage the transition of the project. However, we felt we had the technical expertise to do it ourselves.” said Cindy Murdock, System Network Administrator. Murdock also stated, “We have hired Liblime to provide us with some technical support which is specific to our installation and beyond our level of technical experience. This shows that open source technology can be supported as easily as commercial software.”

MPL is the first library in CCFLS to be using Koha. The remaining eight member libraries of CCFLS will have Koha installed later in the summer and early fall of 2007.

About CCFLS

The Crawford County Federated Library System provides technical, financial, and professional library services to the nine state-aided public libraries and two reading centers in Crawford County. The nine public libraries are: Benson Memorial Library (Titusville), Cambridge Springs Public Library, Cochranton Area Public Library, Linesville Public Library, Meadville Public Library, Saegertown Public Library, Shontz Memorial Library (Conneaut Lake), Sprinboro Public Library, Stone Memorial Library (Conneautville).

About Koha ZOOM

Koha ZOOM represents a generational leap in Koha’s development. Notably, it includes a powerful search engine based on Zebra, a high-performance indexing and retrieval engine. Koha ZOOM’s search engine can read structured records in practically any input format (eg. email, XML, MARC) and allows access to them through exact boolean search expressions and relevance-ranked free-text queries. It supports large databases (more than ten gigabytes of data, tens of millions of records) as well as incremental, safe database updates on live systems.

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