25 May 2020. Like many libraries across New Zealand, the Mental Health Education & Resource Centre Library (MHERC) adapted its services in response to COVID-19 related events. For Sheree Menzies, IT/Resources at MHERC, this meant allowing new borrowers to sign-up online for the first time ever.
Opened in 1994, the Mental Health Education & Resource Centre (MHERC) was established to provide a free library open to the Canterbury region, as well as offering information, professional development, and community education about mental health, well-being, mental illness, and addiction. The centre's library collection consists of over 4,000 books, CDs, and DVDs that specifically focus on these topics, including a newly expanded set of online resources.
The centre's library service includes posting items out to borrowers. Each package contains a return prepaid NZ Post bag so that borrowers are able to easily return items. A self-taught Koha user for eight years, Sheree notes that Koha is very easy to use and remembers their 2012 migration as being ‘seamless'. She is particularly pleased with the freedom it offers staff to play and explore settings and customisation options. While freely admitting that there are features she has yet to discover, Sheree has enjoyed learning new skills, such as learning how to edit Koha source code to include their branding and, more recently, tweaking their new online self-registration form.
Sheree worked closely with Alex Buckley, developer with Catalyst's Koha team, to implement their new sign-up form workflow. ‘Alex was really good at explaining the process and the ability to get such a feature up and running quickly has been invaluable,' she notes. While Sheree has known that the ability to have such a form has always been there, the nature of their borrower interactions – in-person, by email, phone, and post – meant that MHERC had never had cause to use it before. Sheree commented that one of MHERC's requirements was the ability to moderate new user sign-ups. As such MHERC funded a new feature for Koha which enhances the existing sign-up form allowing librarians to moderate registrations. ‘The implementation of the online sign-up form has saved time responding to multiple emails for people still needing to use our service. It is such a pleasure to have had the team's assistance and I have very much appreciated Alex's help,' said Sheree.
Since going live, Sheree reports MHERC has had 80 new borrowers join the library and start using their resources immediately. 'New borrowers who,' Sheree says, ‘needed access to resources and help.' The sign-up form will remain in place now that Sheree has returned to the office.
The Koha community supports free and open source library management software for approximately 15,000 libraries worldwide and has been translated to more than 40 languages, including, te reo Māori. Catalyst IT have a dedicated Koha team who implement and support Koha for libraries in Aotearoa, and contribute their expertise to the global Koha community project and development team.