Migrating to Koha

Plumas County Library started investigating migrating to Koha because the North Net Cooperative Library System obtained a grant that would pay our migration costs and the first year of support. With support costs on our current system threatening to sink us, I was all in favor of finding a cheaper alternative. The crucial factor was determining if Koha could do everything we needed it to do.

Our library has about 100,000 items, four automated branches, and four library stations that are not automated. We have floated our collection for years to save costs and to help with collection rotation. I am not a techie, and we were able to accomplish the migration with technical assistance provided by Bywater Solutions. They were great at explaining everything to us in English, answering our questions and keeping us on schedule.  Cheryl Gould from InfoPeople provided us with a great all-day all-staff training one month before we went live, and Bywater gave us a test database with our own data so we could practice and experiment during the month. Getting most of our cataloging records to Bywater was similar to uploading to OCLC. There were a number of reports we had to run--or ask our current ILS to run--in order to get all the borrower information. We were even able to run reports to migrate our on-the-fly records.

When we first "went live" on January 3, we noticed an interesting glitch: all library cards had expired in 1911. Remember Y2K? We experienced it that morning!

Bywater was able to correct this problem and several other small issues quickly and easily, so by the time we opened that afternoon, we were checking books in and out, and showing patrons how to search our new catalog.

The ultimate plan is to create a cooperative catalog with the other northern California libraries that migrated through the grant; that will happen sometime after the third library has completed its migration in March.  We already have several other libraries in North Net who are interested in migrating and becoming part of our collaborative, which will only be a good thing for our patrons.

Margaret Miles, Plumas County Librarian

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