Koha for Schools upgraded to version 17.05.06

All Koha for Schools clients have been upgraded to Koha version 17.05.06. The upgrade was performed overnight on Wednesday 13 December 2017.

Major new features in Koha 17.05 include:

  • a new ‘Article Requests’ module (bug 14610);
  • a new ‘Patron Clubs’ feature (bug 12461);
  • a new ‘Patron Notes’ feature in the OPAC (bug 14224);
  • an improvement regarding Reservations (holds) whereby patrons can be prevented from requesting pick up from a branch where the item is available on the shelf (bug 17453);
  • creation of a pathway to metadata schema independence: presently the metadata schema supported by Koha is MARC; in future (with further specific development) it would be possible to ingest and create records using other schemas, for example Dublin Core, METS, MODS, RDF or any new schema. Until now Koha stored metadata in the biblioitems table (biblioitems.marcxml). With bug 17196, it is moved to a new table biblio_metadata.

For more information about Koha 17.05, read the release notes or contact Koha for Schools.

Single Sign-on Implemented for St Luke’s Grammar School

The Koha library system in use at Sydney’s St Luke’s Grammar School has now been integrated with the school’s SAML-based Single Sign-on system.

Now, St Luke’s students who access any of the school’s core IT applications are automatically logged in to other applications that they visit during the same session. For example, a student who logs in to the Learning Management System, then visits the Koha library catalogue, is automatically and instantly logged in to the library management system.

The full power of Koha is available to logged in users. Whilst users who are not logged in can search the catalogue and export citations, many more features are available to users who are logged in. They can renew their loans, place reservations on items, view their borrowing history, make lists from their search results, make purchase suggestions or add a reader’s review to a title. Having students log in is key to maximising their interaction with the school catalogue.

However a barrier exists where-ever students are required to remember separate credentials to access a given system. Koha supports other methods for single sign-in including Google’s Oauth2 and CAS. LDAP based systems such as Microsoft’s Active Directory enable one set of credentials to be used across multiple applications but do not automatically complete login to each application, that is, students must log in to each application they access, albeit with the same common set of credentials.

SAML is a protocol that enables seemless single sign-on between multiple applications. It works by transferring a user’s identity from one place (the identity provider) to other places (the applications the student will use). At the core of the system is an identity provider (IDP) who provides a certificate on demand to each application the user visits. As the users identity is known to the IDP, there is no need for the user to prove their identity at each application they visit.

St Luke’s uses Studentnet for the provision of IDP services. Adding Koha to St Luke’s single sign-on application suite was a straightforward matter of configuration and testing, involving collaboration between systems professionals at St Luke’s, Koha for Schools and Studentnet.

About Koha
Koha is the world’s most widely deployed Integrated Library System. Originating in New Zealand, it is now used by national, academic and public libraries around the world. Koha is fully featured, uses modern web technologies throughout and incorporates open library standards, ensuring it can be readily integrated with other systems and technologies. Koha is free and open source software, developed and maintained by librarians and IT professionals around the world. Learn more about Koha at the project website https://koha-community.org

About Koha for Schools
Koha for Schools is a recent release of Koha, specially prepared for the needs of Australian schools and offered as a cloud application, backed by the experience and expertise of Calyx Group. The system is pre-configured for rapid deployment to primary and high schools throughout Australia. Packed with features, highly flexible and configurable, readily integrated into the school’s IT environment and competitively priced, Koha for Schools brings amazing computing power to the school library scene. Find our more from https://kohaforschools.com.au

About Studentnet
Studentnet provides IDP services to schools through its Cloudwork product. Studentnet has been assisting schools since 1996 and is dedicated to the needs of educators, students, parents, IT staff and school communities. Privacy and security are designed into the products from conception through to delivery. Studentnet’s commitment is widely recognised in the areas of security, privacy and innovation. Learn more about Studentnet services at http://studentnet.net/index.php

St Luke’s Grammar School goes live on Koha

Koha in use at St Luke's Dee Why

St Luke’s Grammar School has implemented the popular Koha integrated library system to serve the libraries of its two campuses. St Lukes is a Pre-K to 12 Anglican College situated at Dee Why and Bayview on Sydney’s Northern Beaches.

In looking for a new ILS to serve both campuses, the school particularly sought a strong acquisitions module and a customisable OPAC that would display beautifully on all user devices including smart phones. Data exported from legacy Destiny and Bookmark systems were conditioned for import to Koha. The new system contains 25,000 bibliographic records and 1,500 staff and student records and is hosted on a CALYX server in the Equinix Data Centre in Sydney.

The system conversion project was led by St Luke’s Systems Librarian, Katherine Hicks. Usually OPAC design is undertaken by the Koha support company but here the school embraced this task. Katherine took responsibility for the design and creation of the OPAC, populating the Koha system preferences that enable librarians to insert HTML, CSS and javascript to create a tailored home page layout. The theme is consistent with other websites of the school. CALYX provided support for system configuration, undertook the data conversion and provided integration with the school’s systems for single sign-on. Training services were also provided by CALYX.

Katherine Hicks says that Koha, auspiced by the international Koha Community, aligns with the St Luke’s Learning Framework, encouraging collaboration and reciprocity between users to improve upon what is already a modern, fully featured system. “Koha more than meets our requirements and has already enabled greater user interaction with library collections”, Katherine said. “Koha encourages our users to help build the collection by making purchase suggestions that integrate seamlessly with acquisitions. The conversion from our previous systems to Koha was stress free and CALYX went above and beyond to get our system up and running and set up to our specifications. We couldn’t be happier.”

CALYX’ CEO Irma Birchall commented that “the Koha community is only strengthened when professional librarians embrace the technology and the project’s values in the manner we have witnessed at St Luke’s. We congratulate the library team on the success of their project.”

For more information about St Luke’s Grammar School visit https://www.stlukes.nsw.edu.au/ or view the school library OPAC at http://learninghub.stlukes.nsw.edu.au/ .

For more information about Koha visit the community website or click here.

Koha Upgraded to version 16.11.07

All Koha for Schools clients have been upgraded to Koha version 16.11.07. The upgrade was performed overnight on Thursday 18 May 2017.

Major new features in Koha 16.11 include:

– an Article Requests module;
– allow a Patron to Place Multiple Reserves on a Record (e.g. reserve more than one issue of a journal or magazine);
– Housebound Readers module;
– new Patron Quick Add form.

For more information about Koha 16.11, read the release notes or contact Koha for Schools.

Why is Koha for Schools upgraded frequently?

In software terms, Koha is a large and dynamic project, assessed to represent 202 years of effort. The development team is truly world wide. You can watch the development of Koha in real time on the project’s dashboard.

The Koha project has a major feature release twice per year, in May and November. Every other month there is a maintenance release and from time to time there are additional security releases. Koha for Schools policy is to upgrade the software at least twice per year, for each major feature release and for any and all security releases. Generally, we wait five months or so before choosing the version to which we upgrade. The present upgrade is to 16.11.07, the seventh maintenance release within the 16.11 version. In this way we provide users with timely access to the latest features and improvements, whilst ensuring that Koha for Schools software is always robust and reliable.

In summary, frequent upgrades provide:
– timely application of security patches;
– prompt resolution of software errors;
– user access to the latest features and enhancements; and
– avoidance of costs arising from ‘large’ upgrades across multiple versions of the software,
all whist providing a stable and reliable operating environment for school libraries and their communities.

Koha for Schools upgraded for Koha 16.05.09 Security Release

The Koha Development Team have announced a security release for currently supported versions of Koha. Consequently Koha for Schools clients were upgraded to Koha version 16.05.09 overnight on Wednesday 1 February 2017.

No changes to Koha functionality have been effected by this upgrade. Patches have been applied to remove some security vulnerabilities. Read the Release Notes here.

Why do security releases occur?

Security is one of the most important issues that cloud computing providers deal with. A range of measures are implemented to maximise the likelihood that servers and applications are free of vulnerabilities. Upgrades to operating system packages are applied regularly and frequently. Firewall rules are actively maintained. Similarly, application software, including Koha, is frequently changing and must be kept up to date. Often problems are fixed before they become publicly known.

The Koha development team is constantly alert to the risk of exploitation through the application. If a vulnerability is detected a patch is developed quickly and a release is prepared. Koha for Schools policy is to apply these releases immediately they become available.

Often cloud services provide a more up to date security environment than in-house systems. Where-ever the server is located, the entire environment requires careful and continuous planning and management. Learn more about Koha for Schools hosting service here.

Koha Version Upgrade Applied to Koha for Schools

An upgrade to Koha version 16.05.05 has occurred for all Koha for Schools clients. The upgrade was applied overnight on 15 November 2016.

Koha 16.05 was first released in May 2016. Koha 16.05.05 is the fifth monthly maintenance release in the series.

This release includes exciting new features and numerous minor improvements. Key new features include:

    Forgotten password assistance when logging into OPAC;
    Video streaming from YouTube;
    Automatic item modification by age allowing items to automatically lose new status;
    Greater control over maximum fine settings;
    Ability to pay fees and fines from OPAC using PayPal.

You may read the Release Notes at https://koha-community.org/koha-16-05-released/ or contact Koha for Schools for more information about the new features.

Koha Security Upgrade applied to Koha for Schools

All Koha for Schools clients are now running Koha version 3.22.10. A Koha security upgrade was provided overnight on 1 September 2016.

The developers of Koha are continuously working to ensure the software is as secure as possible.  Koha 3.22.10 is a Security Release of Koha which provides patches for one potential of a privacy breach and several cross scripting vulnerabilities.  Read the Release Notes here.

Koha for Schools will always apply security releases of Koha as soon as possible following their release.

More generally, our upgrade policy is that we run approximately 6 months behind the head of the project. In this way we ensure that schools receive frequent updates to the latest features and improvements, whilst ensuring the software we provide is stable and robust. The Koha project has two major feature releases every year, in May and November.  Every other month there is a maintenance release.  Koha for Schools allows each major feature release to mature through at least several maintenance releases before applying an upgrade.  Upgrades generally have no impact on users.  New features are controlled by system preferences and can be turned on if and when each library wishes to use the feature.

Contact us with any questions about the deployment of your Koha for Schools product.

Introducing Koha for Schools

What is Koha?

Koha is the world’s most widely installed library management system. National, academic, school, public and special libraries on every continent use Koha.* Koha supports almost any workflow due to an extensive array of system preferences. Therefore it will scale, from the smallest private collections to the very largest libraries. For example, Koha runs the entire public library system of Turkey with over 12 million items in a single Koha instance. That’s flexibility! Koha is free and open source software, developed and maintained by a world-wide community of librarians and information technology professionals. The project’s values of collaboration and learning align with those of the school’s sector.

What is Koha for Schools?

Koha for Schools is a standard configuration of Koha hosted in the cloud. Australia’s longest established Koha support company, Calyx, provides the hosting and support for Koha for Schools. Our team has pre-configured Koha in a manner typically useful for Australian schools. Your Koha will work ‘out of the box’ on the day it is deployed, however you are able to further refine the configuration if you wish.

How will Koha for Schools benefit our library?

In launching Koha for Schools, Calyx’ CEO Irma Birchall said, “We’ve been involved in the Koha project since 2003. Koha just keeps on getting better and better. And we grow more and more excited by the opportunity it provides to libraries. We’ve known for some time there is a need in the school’s sector for a modern, fully featured ILS that is flexible, robust, integrates readily with other systems and technologies and is easy to use. This configuration of Koha and this package of services will enable Australian schools to gain the power of Koha at a fraction of the cost of comparable systems. We’re genuinely excited to make it available.”

For more information about Koha visit https://koha-community.org. For an obligation-free conversation about the benefits of Koha for Schools in your school, contact us!

* Australian Bureau of Meteorology scientists in Antarctica access the Bureau’s Koha library in Melbourne via their virtual private network. So yes, Koha is used on every continent on the planet. Awesome!