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KOHA - New Zealand Library System Is A World First

KOHA - New Zealand Library System Is A World First!

Koha, the world's first open-source library system has been named as a finalist in the Interactive New Zealand Awards, and the 3M Award for Innovation in Libraries. "Only 3 finalists have been named for the 3M award, and we are incredibly proud to have made the cut" says Rosalie Blake, Head Librarian of Horowhenua Library Trust.

Koha is a complete library management system developed by Katipo Communications for Horowhenua Library Trust. The icing on the cake with this system is that it's open source and being given away free. Koha is released under the GNU public license and runs on Linux, so anyone can download it, install it on a Linux server, and modify it to meet their own requirements.

"That's why we called it Koha - because it's our gift to the library community" said Rosalie.

“We believe that Koha is also the first library management system in the world that works entirely via the internet” comments Rachel Hamilton- Williams, Webmistress at Katipo Communications Ltd.

The Horowhenua libraries are in Levin, Foxton and Shannon, and a key requirement of any system they use is that these branches need to operate seamlessly as one library. In provincial New Zealand, lack of affordable bandwidth is a real issue, and other library system vendors don't cater for it.

Katipo are experienced web application developers, and thought to harness the benefits of the internet to develop a system that runs well over ordinary phone lines, on ordinary computers with a simple web interface.

"One of our personal goals was to build a system that would even work for mobile libraries. We wanted it to be able to work in real time, to issue and return books, and check member accounts against the central database, using a lap top and a cellphone. We haven't seen another system that can match that " Says Rachel.

Within New Zealand and world wide, libraries have been incredibly enthusiastic about the system.

Lora Morgaine of the Waitt Family Foundation Technology Resource Center, Seattle wrote “We have been following the Koha release with excitement. The design, usability, and scope are excellent. We are currently testing it here for use in our private library, and are making a few modifications to make it truly usable across school, public, and private U.S. library domains.”

To our knowledge Koha has been installed in Christchurch, Poland, Estonia, Australia and in several sites in America, but over 500 copies of it have been downloaded since release.

A community of both users and developers is growing around the software. Because the software is free, people are keen to contribute their time to the project. “We’ve just heard that a Polish language version is underway. Once one language has been completed, it will be easy to make other language versions, including Maori.” says Rachel.

To test drive Koha visit, or to see it in action drop in to any of the Horowhenua Libraries. Main Library is situated at 10 Bath St, Levin, just off State Highway 1.

The winner of the 3m Innovation awards is announced at the Library Association Conference in Christchurch on the 16th of October. The Interactive New Zealand Awards are presented in Wellington on the 19th of October.

Contacts: Rosalie Blake Horowhenua Library Trust 06-368 1953

Rachel Hamilton-Williams Katipo Communications Ltd 04-389 1285

Addition Information/Websites:

GNU General Public Licence: Open Source Library Project: Interactive New Zealand : Library Association of New Zealand: About the 3M award:

Rachel Hamilton-Williams Katipo Communications WEBMISTRESS ph 025 300 825 or +64 04 389 1285 PO Box 7039, Wellington New Zealand

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