Check out the new MDAH online catalog! The catalog was converted to the Koha software system over the Memorial Day weekend. Its appearance has not changed much, but the cost savings and other benefits precipitating the move have just begun. With the old system, not only was the department tied to a particular vendor, whose fees went up by a set percentage annually, but our license limited how many patrons and staff could connect to the catalog simultaneously. Every month hundreds of patrons and staff got a “System busy. Try again later” message, because the license limit had been exceeded. With open-source Koha, there are no licensing fees and no vendor lock-in.

Koha is a full-featured library system used by thousands of libraries world-wide. It is web-based, meaning that it can be accessed from any computer with an internet browser. It also uses full-text searching. Now, for the first time since MDAH has had an online catalog, patrons can use online search engines to search inside the catalog. Even the item note fields can be searched – something that our old system wouldn’t do. This innovative application and the significant related cost savings are possible due to the technical capability of the Archives and Records Services Division information services staff.

The Koha catalog system is still relatively new and is very much a “work in progress.” Check it out and come back again because now patrons can visit as often as they want – no more licensing limits!