Kotui: An Update From Sue Sutherland Regarding Koha

On 29 April 2011, the National Library of New Zealand announced:

Vendors selected to develop Kōtui, a new national shared library system

Three vendors have been selected to work with Kōtui to develop a shared library system operated by the National Library of New Zealand for subscribing public libraries. The vendors are SirsiDynix, EBSCO Publishing, and Computer Concepts Ltd.

Acting National Librarian, Sue Sutherland, says Kōtui will manage the member libraries’ physical resources and offer a new Discovery system which will allow customers to easily search for e-books or digital subscription information held by libraries as well as conventional books, magazines and DVDs.

“Through Kōtui, library customers will be able to easily discover and access resources from home or from school or work as well as from inside a library.”

Ms Sutherland says Kōtui will give member libraries access to centralised expertise and a help desk offered through an augmented Aotearoa People’s Network Kaharoa (APNK) service.

“The shared service will provide a substantially improved service to all member libraries and councils at costs which could not be achieved by councils acting individually to implement levels of service offered by Kōtui.”

The vendor selection followed a rigorous evaluation process which assessed vendor offerings in terms of both functionality and price. Potential member libraries were heavily involved in the development of the specifications for Kōtui and were also involved in selecting the vendors.

Ms Sutherland says that subscriptions from member libraries will fully fund the service with preparatory work for implementation to begin soon after Easter. Kōtui member libraries and councils currently include:

  • Marlborough, Nelson, New Plymouth, Palmerston North, Tasman, Taupo, Waimakariri, Wanganui joining in Year 1
  • Buller, Hurunui, Thames Coromandel, Upper Hutt, Waitaki joining in Year 2
  • Hastings and Kawerau joining in Year 3

A number of other councils are currently discussing joining Kōtui.

The three suppliers each have responsibility for different components of the service with SirsiDynix providing the core systems to manage the physical items held by libraries; EBSCO Publishing providing EBSCO Discovery Service, the service that allows combined discovery of both physical and electronic items held by the library, and Computer Concepts Ltd providing centralised hosting services from their Christchurch-based data centre.

On 10 May 2011,  The National Archives Library (UK) announced:

The National Archives chooses the Koha open source library management
system, implemented and hosted by PTFS Europe London, 9th May 2011.

The library at The National Archives has chosen the Koha open source
library management system to replace its existing Unicorn solution. PTFS
Europe are carrying out the initial implementation and providing ongoing
support. The system is hosted at the PTFS Europe data centre in

Koha Library Management System

With Koha, library staff access is completely web-based; acquisitions,
circulation, cataloguing, serials and reports are all done through a web
browser. As well as an excellent search engine the OPAC offers a range of
Web 2.0 and Library 2.0 facilities such as tagging, reviewing, public and
private lists as well as integrating with services such as RSS, Twitter and

Working with PTFS Europe provides the freedom and functionality of open source software together with the benefits of receiving high quality
customer support.

Helen Pye-Smith, Head of Business Support and Library Services at The
National Archives said: “The Koha library management system is both cost effective and meets our high standards in providing user-friendly, easily accessible online resources, plus has the potential to integrate with
future innovations in this area. Combined with the knowledge and expertise provided by PTFS Europe this is an ideal formula and we look forward to implementing the new system.”

Nick Dimant, Managing Director at PTFS Europe said: “We would like to
welcome The National Archives as the first government agency library in the UK to move to Koha. The challenging economic climate is proving to be a catalyst. Libraries are realising that they can benefit from good
functionality and modern technologies in an open environment, all at a
reduced cost.”

And, naturally with both announcements being made so closely together there was a bit of twitter activity expressing disappointment that Koha wasn’t selected as a vendor by Kotui.

Sue Sutherland, former Acting National Librarian and sponsor of Kotui, has responded with the following statement:

Koha was evaluated along with other library systems by a team from National Library and the public libraries involved in Kotui.  The process was peer reviewed by US expert Marshall Breeding.  The requirements were comprehensive and the result was as publicised.  This does not mean that Koha is not a good system – nor does it mean that Sirsi  is better.   It was about the requirements and fit for purpose for the broad range of libraries that are part of Kotui.

Sue, thank you for clarifying the selection process and reassuring me and many other librarians about the care and rigor in which the vendors were evaluated and selected. I am looking forward to seeing what develops.


  1. Anoop Atre says:

    Gazillion you say? Accepted. : )

  2. Joann Ransom says:

    1/2 a billion is a ridiculous tongue-in-cheek number. Sorry – I should said a gazillion!

  3. Anoop Atre says:

    @Joann “West Bengal (127 libraries now – expanding to 1000+), Kerala State and Delhi in India (thats 1/2 a billion Indians)”

    That just seems absurd, with a population of 1.2 billion are you claiming West Bengal, Kerala and Delhi have nearly half the population?

    I am a fan of Koha but pulling numbers out of the air just makes Koha users look bad. In fact the use of Koha is more widespread than just West Bengal, Delhi and Kerala – http://wiki.koha-community.org/wiki/Koha_Users_Worldwide#South_Asia_.28South_Asian_Subcontinent.29

    I’m sure a lot of folks are using Koha in India and are not on the list but claiming (or even suggesting) 1/2 a billion users is reaching a bit.

  4. Joann Ransom says:

    Sorry – that last post was from me – not meant to be anonymous at all!

  5. Anonymous says:

    In 2010 Koha was the second most selected LMS in both public and academic libraries in USA. Full article here: http://www.libraryjournal.com/lj/ljinprintcurrentissue/889533-403/automation_marketplace_2011_the_new.html.csp

    Koha has also been selected for all the public libraries in the Phillipines, Pakistan, West Bengal (127 libraries now – expanding to 1000+), Kerala State and Delhi in India (thats 1/2 a billion Indians), is 2nd most installed LMS in France, huge in South America, on the rise in Europe and Africa.

    Marshall Breeding reports on ILS turnover last year and Koha did very well: http://www.librarytechnology.org/ils-turnover.pl?Year=2011
    Already in 2011, 103 library systems in the English speaking world alone (not individual libraries) have switched to Koha: http://www.librarytechnology.org/libraries.pl?ILS=Koha&HQ=on&InstallDate=2011

    Yet it isn’t good enough for NZ …. that bar must be pretty high ….

    On the subject of ‘cost effectivenes’ our price for moving to Kotui (excluding conversion) was almost twice what we paid our Vendor (who did the whole process for us) to move to Koha 3.2. This was in effect a new system for HLT. Several NZ Libraries with multiple branches have switched to Koha recently and their costs (including conversion) were in the region of $30k – $50k all up – and no annual licence fees.

  6. David says:

    Koha made the long list but not the short list. Presumably there were things about Koha that they felt didn’t make it suitable for Kōtui – otherwise it would have made the short list and squared off against Sirsi and Millennium.

    My understanding is that those that put the bid in for Koha didn’t receive any sensible justification as to why they didn’t make the short list. Considering the local interest in Koha, not to mention that this is a taxpayer funded project, I think we deserve a better explanation.

    Could the Official Information Act be of use here..?

  7. shellauw says:

    Thanks for the post Sally, but I didn’t actually see any real clarification of the choices made by the NLNZ in either statement, and the process by which Sirsi was considered to be the better option, particularly following the very public disenchantment that NZ libraries that have moved to Symphony have expressed. Seeing this is a public service funded by the taxpayers, I’d be very interested to know how the decisions were made…

Comments are closed.