Prosentient has considerable experience implementing Koha sites, large and small. Larger projects may start with a set of formal requirements in a contract and kick off with a project initiation meeting. With smaller sites the preliminaries are usually conducted over the phone.
The simplest project of all is setting up a new library because there is no data to migrate -- but in most of our projects data must be migrated from an existing system. Whatever the size of an existing library, implementation will involve the following steps:
Establish requirements: every library is slightly different in how it operates and Koha is highly configurable to allow for just about every feature a librarian might require. Out of the box Koha comes with the settings that are most commonly used, so the task can be narrowed to identify those areas in which the new library is exceptional. We provide a migration checklist to get librarians thinking about how their library works and what they want to achieve from the data migration. This may lead to a further discussion about local requirements and how they can be implemented.
Customisation: complex customisation is rarely required, but sometimes arises in the context of integrating with other systems. If this is required, we are happy to estimate and quote the work involved based on our standard rate.
Obtain legacy data: we ask the library to export and send us files containing the records they wish to migrate to the new system. Most libraries want to export their catalogue and borrower records and these are usually straightforward because they are typically held in a standard form. We have considerable experience with different kinds of library management systems and may be able to provide advice about getting the data out, if that is needed.
Our clients are also invited to nominate any data cleaning or mapping they wish to undertake as part of the migration -- merging items types, for example, or deleting bib records without items. Other types of records, for example acquisitions or serial management, can be complicated because there are no standards for these across the different systems. Depending on the quality of the exported data and the complexity of the conversion task, it has occasionally been necessary to quote for significant additional work involved in a complex data migration -- but this is rare.
Collateral content: we ask the library to provide any graphics, links to other pages, background text and so on that they would like us to use in setting up the appearance of the OPAC. If the library has no special requirements in this department we are usually able to borrow suitable logos and colour schemes from its corporate website.
Establish development site: the OPAC and Staff Client sites are set up on Prosentient’s hosting service and made available to the library, together with initial log-in accounts.
Data conversion, migration and cleaning: Prosentient has developed software tools for cleaning and migrating data from the legacy library systems it has encountered. The data is migrated based on the library’s requirements and the library is asked to check and confirm the results. We have found that most implementations require two or three cycles of conversion, import and checking in order to achieve the accuracy required. For this reason all our data conversions are “scripted” and can be run through a series of iterations to refine the conversion mapping and data cleaning required to yield an effective result for the client. The final export of the old data needs to take place as close as possible to implementation of the new system and ideally the old system is not used further once this has occurred. For this reason, final export often takes place on a Friday afternoon and cutover to the new system occurs first thing on Monday morning. If use of the old system after final export is unavoidable, subsequent transactions will need to be noted and adjustments made when the new system goes live.
Configuration workshop: in parallel with data cleaning and migration we conduct a Koha Configuration Workshop with, depending on the size of the library, at least the chief and deputy librarian attending. In this workshop we canvas those aspects of Koha configuration that most often differ between sites and show the librarians how we make the configuration changes on their new site. Based on the library’s requirements, previously gathered, we tend to focus on particular features of interest to the library. The configuration workshop will cover:
- Basic setup parameters
- Patron & circulation parameters
- Global system preferences
- Catalogue configuration
- Acquisition parameters
- Z39.50, Calendar and News settings
Final configuration: any residual setup issues identified as part of the configuration workshop are best resolved before the user training takes place.
Train library staff: as described in our page on training we offer two Koha user training courses for the library staff: basic and advanced. In a small library all staff would normally attend both courses. In a large library, with a degree of specialisation in roles, all staff attend the basic course but some may not need the advance course which covers Cataloguing, Serials, Acquisitions and Reports. The training (ideally) takes place on the library's own development site, loaded with the library's own catalogue and configured as close as possible to the way it will look when implemented. In addition to the formal training courses, library staff are pointed to the extensive collection of freely available Koha video tutorials on the internet.
Implementation: planning for switching the site from development to production requires the client to organise publicity for changes that affect their patrons. Borrowers do not require formal training in how to use the OPAC but it is good to let them know in advance of the change and point them to online tutorials about how to use some of the new features. The library will also need to perform a final data export from the old system and make transitional arrangements for the interval between data freeze and the new site going live. Prosentient will then perform the final data import to the new system and check that everything is present and correct and ready to go into production.
Monitor operations: Prosentient’s staff are ready when the production site goes live to deal with any questions or issues arising -- but the phone hardly ever rings!