Oslo Public Library chooses the free and open Koha Integrated Library System

At the end of 2013, the Library Director decided that Oslo Public Library will move to the free and open Koha Integrated Library System (ILS). This decision has been made based on a long running process in the “Application project”, and the demands placed on systems, tools and software in a modern public library in Oslo.

By choosing Koha, we will have an ILS 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.

Koha is used today by more than 1100 other public libraries on five continents. It is also used in a handful of national libraries as well as several hundred academic and special libraries.

We look forward to being a part of the Koha Community and helping to shape an ILS that will satisfy our needs now and in the future!

About Oslo Public Library
Oslo Public Library is the largest public library in Norway. We are made up of one main library and 17 branch libraries all over Oslo, as well as branches in two prisons and one hospital. Three of the branch libraries also function as school libraries.

In 2017 we will move into a new main library centrally located between the main railway station and the opera building, in an area called Bjørvika. The planning process for the new library has been going on for several years. Actual digging on the premises has finally started and we will soon be able to see the start of a new communal space for the people of Oslo.

An important part of the vision is to offer good systems, tools and services, for the employees and the general public alike.

About the “Application project”
When Oslo City Council decided to build a new main library, the Department of Culture was granted a budget to run the “Application project”. The goal of this project is to upgrade the tools available for librarians, in order to facilitate the mediation that will be the focus of the new main library. The ILS has been identified as the core system of this activity.

The project will use the next 6 months to explore the needs for development, in dialogue with library staff. This is done to ensure an optimal migration process as well as a sensible and realistic timeframe.

It is too early to say when the go live will be, but it will happen with a good margin in regards of the grand opening in Bjørvika. Koha is a fully fledged ILS, but some functionality needs to be developed or adapted before it is an optimal system for Oslo Public Library.

How the decision was made
Different options have been considered by the Application project, in cooperation with the leadership at Oslo Public Library, and the library’s department for development. All options have been duly considered, but the costs involved in a change of system have not been a separate criterion.

The options that have been considered are:

  • choosing a proprietary ILS (like Bibliofil, Mikromarc, ExLibris etc) after a public RFP process
  • choosing an ILS with a free software licence
  • building a new system from the ground up

Important criteria for the decision have been:

  • the possibility for Oslo Public Library to adapt the system to future needs
  • the possibilities for integrating the system with other systems in the new library (specifically the mediation of electronic content) as well as Norwegian and international services
  • costs associated with procurement and operations
  • the future demands of a modern library staff

We have also considered criteria such as flexibility, openness, vendor independence, access to and control of our own data as well as the opportunities for future inhouse development.

Illustration: Atelier Oslo og Lund Hagem Arkitekter.

The new Main library of Oslo, Norway.
Illustration: Atelier Oslo og Lund Hagem Arkitekter.

Om Anne-Lena

jobber som spesialkonsulent og prosjektleder i Utviklingsavdelingen. Er koordinator for teamet Digital utvikling.