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The business side of Open Source: LibLime buys Koha division

Smart Libraries Newsletter [April 2007]

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LibLime, a small company established to provide support for the open-source library-automation system Koha, has expanded by acquiring the Koha division of Katipo Communications, the consulting firm that originally developed Koha. This move expands the staff of LibLime from 6 to about 9 employees, bringing into the company individuals associated with Koha's original development.

Katipo Communications provides a range of consulting services, primarily related to Web development and contentmanagement systems. The company became involved in library automation initially through the development of an online catalog for the Wellington City Library and an automation system for the Horowhenua Library Trust (HLT).

In 1999, the four libraries in HLT consortium were in need of a library system to replace their existing individual text-based systems prior to the Y2K transition; Koha went into production use in the four HLT libraries in early 2000. Katipo released Koha as open source so that other libraries could adopt and further develop the software. The name Koha comes from a word in the local Maori language meaning a “gift.” Releasing Koha into the open-source realm provided the means for ongoing support for the software without the need for either HLT or Katipo to take on the full burden of future development and marketing of this new automation system.

Following the transfer of the parts of the company related to Koha, Katipo Communications will continue offering its consulting services in areas outside library automation. The arrangement includes a non-competition agreement restricting Katipo from further business activity in this sector.

Prior to this new arrangement, Katipo employed a total of 10; 3 will transfer to LibLime. According to Katipo managing director Rachel Hamilton-Williams, the transfer of Koha to LibLime by no means spells the end of Katipo. The company will continue to engage in other projects, including a contract to develop an opensource digital repository for arts, culture, and heritage commissioned by HLT.

The acquisition involves the transfer of staff from Katipo to LibLime, including the original author of Koha, Chris Cormack. Assets involved in the acquisition include existing support contracts with libraries that contracted with Katipo for support of Koha; copyrights and trademarks related to Koha; and the domain. The transfer was scheduled for completion March 31, 2007.

The LibLime Line

In 2002, the Nelsonville Public Library was the first public library in the U.S. to adopt Koha as its production automation system, replacing its existing Spydus system. In January 2005, several of the staff involved in the implementation, enhancement, and support of Koha at Nelsonville left the library to start LibLime. LibLime's business model involves contracting with libraries to provide services and support related to Koha and other open-source libraryautomation software.

In mid-2006, LibLime partnered with Index Data, also a company involved with open-source software, to enhance Koha through the integration of the Zebra search engine. The Zebra technology provides additional performance and features to Koha, giving it the ability to support much larger libraries and collections. This new version, dubbed “Koha ZOOM,” was put into production use in the Nelsonville libraries in November 2006 and was adopted by the Crawford County Federated Library System in December 2006 as well as at four more libraries.

This expansion makes LibLime more geographically diverse. With a division in New Zealand, the company has increased capacity to offer 24-hour support. To date, over 300 libraries worldwide have implemented Koha. About 30 have implemented Koha with support from LibLime.

LibLime is owned by the holding company MetaVore, Inc., which is wholly owned by the four principles of LibLime. The company operates at this time without outside financial support. Although still a very small company in a field of giants, the acquisition of the Koha division gives LibLime stronger standing as the definitive source of support for Koha. With interest in open-source ILS alternatives ever growing, LibLime is well positioned to foster this movement and increase its business prospects.

View Citation
Publication Year:2007
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 27 Number 04
Issue:April 2007
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Company: PTFS
Products: Koha
Subject: Mergers and acquisitions
Record Number:12738
Last Update:2022-12-05 16:22:20
Date Created:2007-09-22 18:16:29