One of the benefits cited by many libraries using an open source ILS is that they are not tied to a single organization for support services, hosting, and development. We have previously provided coverage of LibLime’s role as the first commercial company in the United States to provide support for an open source ILS. LibLime has been providing support for Koha since early 2005 and continues as the dominant Koha service provider.
Over time, a number of other firms have began providing services to help libraries implement and maintain Koha, both within the United States and internationally. These companies operate both cooperatively and competitively. They cooperate in the development of the Koha software upon which they all depend, and they compete to gain the business of libraries for support services.
Until the last year or so, there were multiple companies involved in Koha, but each operated in a different country or region. More recently, competition has increased as multiple companies operate within the same region. This group now includes small firms as well as larger companies that have launched business units that provide support for Koha and other open source library software.
PTFS, Inc. has been providing support for library software since 1995. They have developed a commercial digital archiving product called Archivalware. The company also has extensive experience with library automation software. Beginning in 2001 PTFS served as a reseller for Ex Libris ALEPH and other products. A number of their clients are federal government libraries, but the company works with libraries of all types. PTFS has recently expanded its scope to includes support services for Koha (See: koha.ptfs.com).
ByWater Solutions, a small consulting company with offices in Santa Barbara, CA and West Haven, CT, has been offering services for Koha since early 2009. Brendan A. Gallagher serves as the firm’s CEO. In addition to offering direct support for libraries using Koha, ByWater works in partnership with other open source companies like Equinix Software. (http://bywatersolutions.com).
BibLibre has been providing support for Koha as a company since 2007, though its founder has been involved in Koha development since 2001. Individuals associated with BibLibre have been major contributors to Koha’s codebase and provide support services to libraries primarily in France. (See: http://www.biblibre.com/).
Catalyst IT Limited, a large New Zealand company specializing in open source technologies, began offering Koha support in mid-2009. Chris Cormack, one of the original developers of Koha at Katipo Communications, leads the company’s involvement with Koha. SLN reported in its April 2007 issue that LibLime acquired the Koha division of Katipo Communications, the consulting firm that originally created Koha. LibLime’s involvement in New Zealand was short lived, and the office was disbanded in February 2008. (http://www.catalyst.net.nz).
This article lists those with a US presence and some of those associated with the key Koha developers. A more complete list of firms offering support services for Koha is available on the official Koha web site (http://koha.org/support/pay-for-support).
With the ever growing adoption of Koha domestically and worldwide, there are many complexities regarding coordination of software development, documentation, ownership of intellectual property assets like trademarks, domain names, and copyrights. These issues have been of concern in recent months and an effort is underway to establish a more coordinated model of governance, including the establishment of a non-profit, independent foundation. Most large-scale open source software projects rely on independent foundations for governance; examples include the Apache Software Foundation, and the Kuali Foundation. The number of libraries adopting Koha and Evergreen as their primary automation software continues to increase. Growing pains for the software and the companies involved are expected. Many libraries stand to benefit from increased competition and more objective governance of this open source software project.