Koha (software)
Koha is an open source
Open source
The term open source describes practices in production and development that promote access to the end product's source materials. Some consider open source a philosophy, others consider it a pragmatic methodology...

 Integrated Library System (ILS)
Integrated library system
An integrated library system , also known as a library management system ,is an enterprise resource planning system for a library, used to track items owned, orders made, bills paid, and patrons who have borrowed....

, used world-wide by public
Public library
A public library is a library that is accessible by the public and is generally funded from public sources and operated by civil servants. There are five fundamental characteristics shared by public libraries...

, school
School library
A school library is a library within a school where students, staff, and often, parents of a public or private school have access to a variety of resources...

 and special libraries
Special library
A special library is a term for a library that is neither an academic, school, public or national library. Special libraries include law libraries, news libraries, corporate libraries, museum libraries, and medical libraries and are not usually open to the public for use...

. The name koha comes from a Māori
Maori language
Māori or te reo Māori , commonly te reo , is the language of the indigenous population of New Zealand, the Māori. It has the status of an official language in New Zealand...

 term for a gift or donation (see koha (custom)
Koha (custom)
Koha is a New Zealand Māori custom which can be translated as gift, present, offering, donation or contribution.-Traditional usage:Koha is an example of the reciprocity which is a common feature of much Māori tradition, and often involves the giving of gifts by visitors to a host marae...



Koha is web-based ILS, with a SQL database backend with cataloguing data stored in MARC
MARC standards
MARC, MAchine-Readable Cataloging, is a data format and set of related standards used by libraries to encode and share information about books and other material they collect...

 and accessible via Z39.50
Z39.50 is a client–server protocol for searching and retrieving information from remote computer databases. It is covered by ANSI/NISO standard Z39.50, and ISO standard 23950. The standard's maintenance agency is the Library of Congress....

. The user interface
User interface
The user interface, in the industrial design field of human–machine interaction, is the space where interaction between humans and machines occurs. The goal of interaction between a human and a machine at the user interface is effective operation and control of the machine, and feedback from the...

 is very configurable and adaptable and has been translated into many languages. Koha has most of the features that would be expected in an ILS, including:
  • Simple, clear interface for librarians and members (patrons)
  • Various Web 2.0
    Web 2.0
    The term Web 2.0 is associated with web applications that facilitate participatory information sharing, interoperability, user-centered design, and collaboration on the World Wide Web...

     facilities like tagging and RSS feeds
  • Union catalog facility
  • Customizable search
  • Circulation and borrower management
  • Full acquisitions system including budgets and pricing information (including supplier and currency conversion)
  • Simple acquisitions system for the smaller library
  • Ability to cope with any number of branches, patrons, patron categories, item categories, items, currencies and other data
  • Serials system for magazines or newspapers
  • Reading lists for members


Koha was created in 1999 by Katipo Communications for the Horowhenua Library Trust in New Zealand, and the first installation went live in January 2000.

From 2000, companies started providing commercial support for koha, building to more than 20 today.

In 2001, Paul Poulain (of Marseille, France) began adding many new features to Koha, most significantly support for multiple languages. By 2010, Koha has been translated from its original English into French, Chinese, Arabic and several other languages. Support for the cataloguing and search standards MARC
MARC standards
MARC, MAchine-Readable Cataloging, is a data format and set of related standards used by libraries to encode and share information about books and other material they collect...

 and Z39.50
Z39.50 is a client–server protocol for searching and retrieving information from remote computer databases. It is covered by ANSI/NISO standard Z39.50, and ISO standard 23950. The standard's maintenance agency is the Library of Congress....

 was added in 2002 and later sponsored by the http://www.myacpl.org/ Athens County Public Libraries. In France Paul Poulain co-founded BibLibre in 2007.

In 2005, an Ohio-based company, Metavore, Inc., trading as LibLime
LibLime is a commercial entity providing implementation and development services around the open source Integrated library system Koha.LibLime was founded in 2005, as part of Metavore Inc. and purchased by Progressive Technology Federal Systems, Inc...

, was established to support Koha and added many new features, including support for Zebra sponsored by the Crawford County Federated Library System. Zebra support increased the speed of searches as well as improving scalability to support tens of millions of bibliographic records. In 2010, LibLime was acquired by another vendor, PTFS.

In 2009 a dispute arose between LibLime and other members of the Koha community. The dispute centred on LibLime's apparent reluctance to be inclusive with the content of the http://koha.org/ sites and the non-contribution of software patches back to the community. A number of participants declared that they believed that LibLime had forked
Fork (software development)
In software engineering, a project fork happens when developers take a legal copy of source code from one software package and start independent development on it, creating a distinct piece of software...

 the software and the community. A separate web presence, source code repository and community was established at http://koha-community.org/ . The fork continued after March 2010, when LibLime was purchased by PTFS.

On 8 April 2011, Domingo Arroyo announced that the Spanish Ministry of Culture is spinning KOBLI, a customised version of Koha.

In 2007 the state of Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

 began testing the use of Koha for all Vermont libraries. At first a separate implementation was created for each library. Then the Vermont Organization of Koha Automated Libraries (VOKAL) was organized to create one database to be used by libraries. This database was tested in 2010 and is being rolled out in 2011. As of May, twenty-six libraries have chosen to adopt Koha and thirteen have moved to the shared production environment. Previously Vermont used software from Follett.

Current status

The latest stable release of the Koha is 3.6.0.

Koha is currently a very active project. According to ohloh
Ohloh is a website which provides a web services suite and online community platform that aims to map the landscape of open source software development. It was founded by former Microsoft managers Jason Allen and Scott Collison in 2004 and joined by the developer Robin Luckey...

, it has a [v]ery large, active development team and a [m]ature, well-established codebase. The analysis of the size of the code base may be deceptive because koha stores user interface translations
Internationalization and localization
In computing, internationalization and localization are means of adapting computer software to different languages, regional differences and technical requirements of a target market...

 alongside actual source code
Source code
In computer science, source code is text written using the format and syntax of the programming language that it is being written in. Such a language is specially designed to facilitate the work of computer programmers, who specify the actions to be performed by a computer mostly by writing source...

 and ohloh cannot always distinguish them.


  • 2000 winner of the Not for Profit section of the 2000 Interactive New Zealand Awards
  • 2000 winner of the LIANZA / 3M
    3M Company , formerly known as the Minnesota Mining and Manufacturing Company, is an American multinational conglomerate corporation based in Maplewood, Minnesota, United States....

     Award for Innovation in Libraries
  • 2003 winner of the public organisation section of the Les Trophées du Libre
    Les Trophées du Libre
    Les Trophées du Libre contest is a free software contest whose goal is to promote innovative software projects and give these projects recognition and media coverage - recently also to motivate students and academic institutions with special prizes. The competition is international and it is...

  • 2004 winner Use of IT in a Not-for-Profit Organisation Computerworld Excellence Awards

Other Open Source Integrated Library Systems (ILS)

  • Evergreen
    Evergreen (software)
    Evergreen is an open source Integrated Library System , initially developed by the for Public Information Network for Electronic Services , a statewide resource-sharing consortium with over 270 member libraries....

  • PhpMyBibli
    PMB is a fully featured open source integrated library system. The project was initiated by François Lemarchand in October 2002, Director of the Public Library of Agneaux; it is now maintained by PMB Services .- Features :...

  • OpenBiblio
    -History:Created in 2002 under General Public Licence . It is written in PHP containing OPAC, circulation, cataloging, and staff administration functionality....

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