[Koha] Import from Z39.50 - conversion MARC21 to UNIMARC - problem solved

René Seindal rene at seindal.dk
Tue Feb 21 22:56:34 NZDT 2023


I'm very new to Koha, so please excuse me if the following is obvious. I 
wasn't for me, and in case is isn't for others too, I'd like to share 
the information. That way it'll be in the mailing list archives for 
others to find.

I've setup a Koha 22.11 instance for my wife, who's a librarian. I'm 

We're in Italy, so the instance uses UNIMARC, which allows for smooth 
interaction with the SBN, the Italian National Library System.

A lot of our records are imported from the SBN, but not all. Some will 
have to come from LOC, British Library and others.

If I searched LOC or BL (both of which use MARC21) for a record, there 
would be some results, but the titles, authors and ISBNs wouldn't appear 
in the search result. The only column visible was the Z39.50 server 
name. There were not error messages, just no data displayed.

A click on a row, then selecting "Preview MARC" on the menu would show 
the record, but not in UNIMARC format.

In my ignorance I expected Koha to do the conversion, after all there's 
a choice of format in the Z39.50 server configuration, but apparently it 

Getting my head around this took a while, but in the end I found out 
that an XSLT conversion is needed, even though the displayed MARC 
records don't look like XML at all.

There's an old bug report here:
which discusses the problem. It is marked FIXED and CLOSED.

In there I found a tentative MARC21 to UNIMARC XSLT file which didn't 
work. My Koha instance gave me a "500 Internal server error".

Searching a bit more, I found this by the author or MarcEdit:
where there's another MARC21 to UNIMARC XSLT file that actually works:

The solution to my Z39.50 import from MARC21 servers into an UNIMARC 
Koha instance was to download the file from the link above, dump it 
unmodified in /etc/koha/sites/instance/marc21xml2unimarc.xsl and then 
put that path into the configuration of each individual Z39.50 server 
that uses MARC21.

So at this point it works, we're happy, but I did expect Koha to take 
care of this. If not, why does it ask us to specify which MARC flavour 
the server uses, only not to act on the information?

René Seindal

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