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:

First UK public library chooses open source library management system

London, 15th October 2010. Halton Borough Council has chosen the Koha open source library management system to replace its existing Dynix solution. PTFS Europe are carrying out the initial implementation and providing ongoing support. The system is hosted at the PTFS Europe data centre in Maidenhead.

Koha Library Management System

With Koha, library staff access is completely web-based; acquisitions, circulation, cataloguing, serials and reports are all done through a web browser. As well as an excellent search engine the OPAC offers a range of Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 facilities such as tagging, reviewing, public and private lists as well as integrating with services such as RSS, Twitter and Facebook.
Working with PTFS Europe provides the freedom and functionality of open source software together with the benefits of receiving high quality customer support.
Paula Reilly-Cooper, Library Services Manager at Halton said “This open source solution is the natural choice for Halton Libraries at a time of public service cuts and the need to justify our presence. The innate flexibility of the software and service from PTFS Europe will allow us to do so much more for less, enabling us to provide an enhanced, adaptable library and information service that meets changing customer expectation”
Nick Dimant, Managing Director at PTFS Europe said “We would like to thank the team at Halton for showing the vision and initiative to make this decision. The challenging economic climate is proving to be a catalyst. It is encouraging libraries to realise that by moving to Koha they can benefit from this combination of good functionality and modern technologies at a reduced cost.”

About Halton Borough Council Library Service

Halton is a unitary authority serving a population of 119,500 in the communities of Widnes, Runcorn and surrounding villages and has four libraries based in Ditton, Halton Lea, Runcorn and Widnes plus a Mobile Library.
The service has approximately 150,000 books and other materials for loan, offers a reference and information service including access to local history and photographic archives and has a special Railway Collection at Widnes Library. Over 100 computers throughout the service provide free Internet access and a wide range of online courses and materials.
The introduction of the a new Library Management System is part of the programme of modernisation of the service which has involved the complete refurbishment of 3 out of 4 of the library buildings. Halton Lea Library received 1.3 million pounds from the Big Lottery Community Libraries Programme which enabled the development of the library and community facilities including dedicated teenage and community history spaces, cafe, meeting rooms, ICT Suite, creche, training kitchen, and the introduction of self service, WiFi and the self management of public computers. Self Service is being extended to the rest of the libraries over the next six months.
More information on Halton Libraries

About PTFS Europe

PTFS Europe implements and supports the Koha and Evergreen open source library management systems as well as distributing and supporting the software products of PTFS, Inc., the leading provider of digital archiving solutions in North America. PTFS Europe is able to provide the full range of services needed to implement a library or digital archival solution, ranging from project management, installation, configuration, data conversion and training through to ongoing customer support.