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Koha, a 20+ year old project, was the first open-source ILS and is licensed under the GPL. I Basic features include circulation, borrower management, cataloging, and a powerful OPAC. Advanced features include budget-based acquisitions, serials management and MARC authorities control (MARC21 and UNIMARC). It also supports spell checking, enriched bibliographic content (jacket covers, "read inside", reviews, ratings and descriptions from Amazon.com), RSS feeds of searches and borrower account data, E-book integration, patron-initiated reservations and renewals as well virtual shelves (lists) for organizing collections of records. Notably, recent versions of Koha's OPAC include a powerful standards-based search engine built around Zebra, the high-performance indexing and retrieval database. Zebra supports large databases (more than ten gigabytes of data, tens of millions of records) as well as incremental, safe database updates on live systems. Zebra also brings native support for important library standards such as Z39.50 and SRW/SRU. Koha supports multiple formats for bibliographic records including several flavors of MARC (UNIMARC, MARC21, KORMARC, ESMARC, etc.), MARCXML, MODS and Dublin Core.

Koha was initially developed in New Zealand by Katipo Communications Ltd. and first deployed in January of 2000 for Horowhenua Library Trust. It is currently maintained by a team of software providers and library technology staff from around the globe and is in use in over 350 libraries. While initial versions were developed for small and medium-sized libraries, Koha is now in use at large libraries including the Near East University in Cyprus with over two million titles. A community exchange site was recently opened to allow libraries to easily share contributions to the project. Koha supports a rich translation framework and has been translated into nearly a dozen languages. A translation site exists to facilitate additional translations. Commercial support is available from several vendors worldwide.

User Comments

Stephen Hedges, Director of Nelsonville Public Library: "Was it the right thing to do? We think so. Frankly, after experiencing the sensation of having total control over our software, we could probably never go back to a commercial system."