National Botanic Garden of Wales

Library at National Botanic Garden of Wales successfully implements Koha

(report by Kate Jones, one of the Volunteer Librarians involved in Koha at the NBGW Library).

Librarians at the National Botanic Garden of Wales, chose Koha to create a catalogue for this new research/reference library, which is based within the Garden’s Research and Conservation group.  This group is headed by botanist Dr Natasha De Vere.

The process started last year, when our Librarian, Margot Greer, heard about Koha at a conference.  We then embarked on an evaluation and testing exercise, with the help of an IT-savvy student – the son of one of the Library volunteers.  We made the decision to go with Koha, had a day’s training this Spring from Jonathan Field (of PTFS) for three of our volunteers, then trained a further group of volunteers ourselves and started to import records from the Library at Kew Gardens, where we had matching records.  We believe that we were the first library in Wales to choose Koha.

Why Koha?  We were impressed by its versatility and the fact it was designed by librarians for librarians.  We like the Open Source principle… and the fact that it was free was also a factor, as we operate on a very small budget – indeed our Library is run entirely by volunteers.

We are lucky to have been able to download records for a significant proportion of our holdings from the Library at Kew (Royal Botanic Garden), and were pleased that Koha made this process so straightforward.  We have succeeded in implementing Koha with minimal professional IT support, thanks to the enthusiasm of our volunteers.

The project has been led throughout by Margot Greer, a professional Librarian, now retired and a Volunteer at the Garden.

We are now at the stage of testing our OPAC on the Garden’s own staff, students and volunteers – by ‘releasing’ it via our own internal network – prior to going ‘live’ on the internet in the next few weeks.  Access will be via the Garden’s public website.  The response of staff to the ‘test’ OPAC has been very enthusiastic.

For more information, please contact the leader of the Library Project, Margot Greer:  library@gardenofwales.org.uk

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