Library Automation using Koha ILMS

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Network Books has many years’ experience automating libraries using Koha. Most projects begin with the informal inquiries whereby a librarian in a potential client institution wants to know what processes are involved in automation and what it would take for them to be automated. This is then followed by a formal engagement that involves development of a proposal by Network Books to the potential client institution.

The initial proposal establishes tentatively, the scope of the project, requirements, implementation schedule and cost. Formal acceptance of this proposal then initiates the following steps:

Establish requirements:

For adequate verification of the project scope, we advise that the client library comes up with their own list of requirements so that we can clearly set out the deliverables of the automation process. This way, the client is sure they are paying for what they want. Most of the time, Koha has more features than what most people want or are even aware of.

Conduct reconnaissance

After the client has come up with requirements, we then conduct a reconnaissance by visiting the institution to meet with our clients so as to establish what we shall require to deliver the requirements. In this process, we seek to establish such things as availability of legacy data and what it shall take to extract the legacy data from the old system in use and import it into Koha.

Developer requirements

The moment we are aware of the amount of work we have to undertake, we then prepare a list of what we shall require to be provided with so as to deliver the client’s requirements. Usually, this includes request for a workstation or two with internet connectivity, a server for Koha installation and adjustment of the cost if there is need.

Work breakdown

Once we have verified and harmonized the client’s requirements with our own, we then proceed to planning how the implementation shall be carried out. Since we have done this process many times with different institutions, we usually anticipate the processes and develop a tentative Gantt chart in the proposal. Then at this stage, we simply adjust the Gant chart according to the needs of this particular project.


Based on the work breakdown, processes involved in implementation include:

  1. Acquisition of legacy data
  2. Installation of Koha – This is done on a Linux Distribution such as Debian or Ubuntu. We prefer the latest release of Debian
  3. Configuration of Koha – This is to prepare Koha so that it aligns to the institution’s requirements such as number of branches, shelving locations, patron categories, circulation rules etc.
  4. Formatting the legacy data – This is to prepare it for import into Koha

This involves putting the new system to task so as to determine if it does, performs and behaves like it is expected to. Focus is given to performance of the system. We check if the system is indexing records fast enough, z39.50 functionality, data entry for records and patrons among others.


We customize the user interface to reflect the institutional colors and logos. We also add useful links and messages as may be required by the client.


Once we are certain the system is working as it should, we proceed to training of staff. The duration of the training depends on the number of people to be trained. Emphasis is given to cataloguing, circulation, patron management, administration and other major modules of Koha.

Maintenance and Monitoring

Network Books’ staff are always ready to do upgrades to take advantage of new features added to new versions of Koha. We are also happy to be consulted whenever there is an issue with Koha even if we are not the ones who implemented the system. We learn more by sharing what we know.

Otuoma Sanya

Otuoma Sanya is a full-time systems librarian, tech enthusiast and writer. His areas of interest are data mining, institutional repositories, library automation and web development using python Django.

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