Collier Library at University of North Alabama: Responsive and Helpful Support - A Case Study
Library Location: Florence, Alabama
Library Information: Collier Library offers access to electronic and physical resources to over 8,300 traditional and distance education students.Library URL: https://una.edu/library
Koha OPAC: https://una.bywatersolutions.com
The University of North Alabama is a public four-year university located in the northwest corner of Alabama and consists of a student body of over 8,300 students. Collier Library provides technical assistance to other libraries across campus, including a music library and a P-6 laboratory school library.
Case study with James Mitchell, Systems Librarian at the University of North Alabama.
ByWater Solutions helped us to make the usually stressful process of migrating a library system easier. With a knowledgeable and friendly migration, systems, and education team, ByWater Solutions was quick to respond to our needs and help us meet deadlines for a successful implementation. I have no doubt that the ByWater Solutions team will continue to be as responsive and helpful to us after implementing Koha as they did when we were preparing to migrate to Koha.
When did you make the decision to switch to Open Source?
I don’t know that our library has made an explicit decision to switch to open source. Since our library is made of multiple stakeholders with differing priorities and perspectives, some might wish to choose software for its ease-of-use, its robust functionality, or for cost-savings reasons. For me, at least, it has been a priority of mine for quite some time that open source systems should be preferred over traditional proprietary options for a variety of both practical and ideal reasons that impact the future of libraries.
Why did you decide to move to Koha ILS?
We chose Koha ILS for at least three reasons. It was affordable and would save the library money in the long term. It also allowed us to avoid being locked into a solution in an increasingly consolidated market. Finally, we wanted better support for our ILS. Since service providers for open source software depend on offering good customer support to establish value to their customers, we believed going with Koha would help improve our situation. This isn’t usually the case with traditional proprietary vendors where the license to use their software is the product you’re buying.
How has this provided new ways of working for staff?
As with any migration from one system to another, library staff has to adjust workflows to continue the tasks that are integral to their responsibilities. While we lost some functionality with Koha from our current system, we have also gained it. For example, because Koha is open source, any software developer with the skills and interest can develop plugins or integration with Koha. As a result, we’ve been able to use tools like MarcEdit to work directly with our catalog. We’ve also been able to improve the process by which we integrate our catalog into EBSCO Discovery Services (EDS), our discovery layer.
Lessons learned from the migration?
It’s always a good idea to have a plan for the migration process. With that being said, though, things rarely go according to that plan. Delays happen. Be flexible. Be confident that there is a workable solution to any roadblock you might face. Involve everyone. No one person has all of the experience necessary to pull off a migration by themself. Be supportive and have a positive attitude throughout the migration process. While it’s hard work and can be stressful at times, it will be worth it. Libraries, like open source communities, are all bigger than the software.
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