This month, two European public libraries announced their move to KOHA, the open source library system. First, on 16 January, the Oslo Public Library - Norway's largest public library - stated that it will make the open source catalogue system the core of its new library building, to be opened in 2017. The library of the Swedish Institute of Rome, in the Italian capital, made an announcement on 20 January. The institute - funded by the Swedish Ministry of Education - will switch to KOHA in the next few months.
The Oslo Library's Digital Services team explains on its website that it selected KOHA after having considered purchasing proprietary alternatives and developing one of their own. Decision criteria included the possibility to adapt the system to future needs, the potential for integrating it with other systems and the costs involved in procurement and operations.
"By choosing KOHA, we will have an integrated library system that can be tailored to our needs, without limitations on the number of concurrent users/licenses, as well as a system where we truly own all the data ourselves. A system which can quickly be adapted, based on end-user needs or the work practices of employees, as well as a system we can use for developing new services."
Next to the main library, the Oslo Library comprises 17 branches in the city, in two prisons and in one hospital. Three of the branches are also school libraries.
The Swedish Institute of Rome, specialised in archaeology and art sciences, used similar arguments to select the open source library system, according to its KOHA service provider, BibLibre. The firm, based in Marseille, France, quotes librarian Astrid Capoferro: "We decided to switch to an open source integrated library system because we like the open source philosophy and think that features like reliance on open standards, rapid and collaborative development, low cost, local control and flexible support options are very important."
KOHA was orginially built for the Horowhenua Library Trust fund, based in the eponymous district in New Zealand. Development started in 1999. The software is available as open source under the GPL.