I had a meeting today with a group of three TLC libraries who are thinking about joining forces and forming a Koha consortium. As part of their due diligence, they proffered up some questions which Brendan Gallagher of ByWater Solutions answered. My rendition of the Qs&As follows.
But first, the million dollar question....."Since we are all independent libraries with our own policies, which policies will we need to agree upon?"
ANSWER: To create a union catalog for all of the libraries, you will have to agree on the Global Policy settings. These are described here: http://koha-community.org/documentation/3-2-manual/index.php?ch=c19#AEN1602
And here's the rest of the Questions and Answers:
1. Is there a way to easily change the circulating location of a batch of items, like "item transfers" function in TLC's circ? When we send items to a branch, we change the circ-ing location so the books will stay there. We don't want to have to go into cataloging to do this.
2. Will our hold report show only on library's holds, or all holds in the consortium? (we probably need to have a discussion about how Koha will function and look as a consortium)
ANSWER: You can do it either way
3. Can we limit branch staff to log into their branch only?
4. We've looked at fast add -- is there a way to do on-the-fly records that aren't MARC?
ANSWER: Not really.
5. Has any library migrated from TLC to Koha?
6. Will we be able to access the LOC authority file through Z39.50?
ANSWER: You can create a local file of LOC authorities and this can be updated but it isn't done via Z39.50.
7. What's Bywater's redundancy/backup?
ANSWER: There are backups including backups of your Linux server, the Koha code and your database. Depending on which thing you're talking about. An image of your server is saved offsite, the code is backed up regularly and stored on tape, and your database is backed up every and stored in a couple different places for safe-keeping and quick recovery.
8. Is it possible to put a recall on an item so a specific message comes up when a book is checked in?
ANSWER: If you mean a "recall" as in asking a patron to return a book that they have checked-out...no. But if you are talking about having a note pop up that circ staff can see when an item is returned (e.g. send to mending), yes.
9. How do you alter the status of an item (make it missing, damaged, lost) in circ?
ANSWER: Search for the title, select it, go to the detail page, select the new status from the dropdown list.
10. Is there any way to clear current patron from screen after you've finished with them (right now you can go to check-in, and last patron still shows on screen).
ANSWER: Yes, there is a "clear" button that staff can click.
11. We need to see what the overdues report looks like. Many of our patrons don't have e-mail; we need to know what's involved in printing overdue notices.
ANSWER: Notices are highly configurable for each library and they go out via email when a valid email is available for the patron. If not, they can be formatted and batch printed using Word merge or something similar.
12. There are a number of cataloging functions that are more cumbersome, requiring more steps, in Koha. Withdrawing books and adding items to a title record are two.
ANSWER: You can batch add several items to a single bib record. You can batch add multiple bib records. You can batch delete several item records (and if the item is the last one connected to a bib record, the bib record is also automatically deleted). You cannot create one file with all of these options (add this record, delete that)...each function has to be performed as its own batch function.
13. It seems too easy to check a book in while in the patron's record when you meant to renew it.
ANSWER: Agreed. For that reason, ByWater recommends removing the check-in button from the patron screen (in the staff interface).
14. There are a lot of TLC reports that we currently run to pull the information needed for the State Library report. It would be really nice if there's money in the grant, or some method of collaboration, so we could come up with a list of the Koha reports we would need to run to get that same info.
ANSWER: ByWater will be working on this with other California libraries migrating to Koha so everyone will have what they need for the State Library.
15. Will we be able to upload (import) to OCLC via Z39.50? TLC does this automatically when a new record is created.
ANSWER: In Koha, you will need to export any records you want to upload to OCLC and then upload that file to OCLC.
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