Pilot of Virtual Union Catalogue (VUC) Using KOHA ILS for Nepali Libraries

Selected during the EIFL-FOSS call for pilot projects, Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya (MPP) took the lead in creating a virtual union catalogue (VUC) using KOHA

You are here


Case Study
Hyoju, Dibyendra
December 2012

In Nepal, the only union catalogue that existed was in the form of a book, which was published by the Nepal National Library (NNL). The book union catalogue contains catalogues of 8 major Nepali libraries. But this form of union catalogue is not updated regularly and is inefficient in terms of searching, while an electronic union catalogue can be accessed anytime, anywhere.

Most of the major Nepali libraries have their bibliographic information online via online public access catalogues (OPAC). The variations in cataloguing standards used by Nepali libraries make it very difficult to create a union catalogue; however, the migration to a standardized MARC format and implementation of KOHA ILS by some libraries provided the opportunity for creating a union catalogue.


Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya (MPP) implemented KOHA for its online public access catalogue (OPAC) and currently has around 14,000 validated MARC records online. Similarly, a few other Nepali libraries such as Tribhuwan University Central Library (TUCL), Social Science Baha (SSB) and Martin Chautari (MC) are also using Koha ILS and they have their records in MARC format.  

Selected during the EIFL-FOSS call for pilot projects, MPP took the lead in creating a virtual union catalogue (VUC) across these libraries using KOHA by using the Z39.50 protocol, which is fully supported by KOHA.


§  A functional prototype of a virtual union catalogue (VUC) was deployed online (vuc.library.net.np) for testing purposes; it includes the records of the 3 Nepali libraries: Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya (MPP); Martin Chautari (MC); and Social Science Baha (SSB).

§  Librarians and their users now have seamless, aggregated access to bibliographic content from geographically dispersed libraries.

§  The VUC provides users with standard features: search options (Title, Author, Publisher and Subject); unique set of search results from across the libraries which includes information from the individual libraries systems

§  Librarians now have an efficient copy cataloguing tool; they can download and import into their ILS a bibliographic record in MARC format, without having to create records from scratch, saving them time and cost required for catalogue creation

§  Library staff who participated in the project improved their technical skills

§  There was increased collaboration across libraries in Nepal


Final report from the Koha Union Catalogue Pilot at Madan Puraskar Pustakalaya, Nepal  - an executive overview of this pilot is also available here. See also the recording by Dibyendra Hyoju, Nepal FOSS Coordinator, about this project: virtual_union_catalog_using_koha_ils_presentation.swf.

What is Koha?

Koha is an Integrated Library System with a range of features including: 

  • Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC) module which provides a simple and clear interface for library users to perform tasks such as searching for and reserving items and suggesting new items.
  • Full catalogue module which enables library staff to capture details of all library items. It is MARC compliant, and also z39.50 compliant, meaning data entry and exchange will be greatly simplified. 
  • Circulation module which fully automates borrowing and item management, integrating with the OPAC so users can see which items they have outstanding, for example.
  • Acquisitions module which assists librarians with both acquisitions and more generally with budget management. Serials management and reporting modules perform functions that their names would suggest.

Koha is designed to work on Linux, but will work on Windows with the installation of a series of additional modules. It is operable in English. Spanish, Arabic and French, with other languages being developed and translated by the community members. It is released under a GNU General Public License (GPL) 

Koha is  is a well-established FOSS ILS and perhaps one of the most successful library FOSS tools currently, and as such the case for FOSS advocacy around Koha is stronger than it may be for software that is less well known. 

What are the benefits of Koha?

  • Easy access to information for library staff and users due to effective searching and issuing of items.
  • Automation of alerts to remind patrons and staff about, for example, overdue items or arrival of new items.
  • Reduced time of processing of library items, due to MARC and z39.50 compatibility. 
  • Online supervision becomes possible, reducing the line management responsibilities of senior staff.
  • Library management becomes easier through automated collection of data.
  • Through the acquisition module budgets can be more effectively managed.
  • Koha brings together library users and staff, as both can see various aspects of the system and can work together more effectively to achieve each user's goals.

Useful information about Koha