[Koha] Re: Koha Digest, Vol 22, Issue 34

roger at hrothgar.co.uk roger at hrothgar.co.uk
Tue Sep 11 08:38:09 NZST 2007

I sent this some time ago but sent it from the wrong address so I don't think 
it arrived. Sorry if it appears twice.

On Saturday 01 September 2007 03:26, colmcd at optusnet.com.au wrote:

> Secondly My librarian is very dissapointed with the package. She really
> lamented not sending for payed software due to numerous bugs in Koha
> (namely the reports DON't work at all and seem to be tailored to a
> particular librarys needs).

This last point is, I think, common with PD software. While commercial 
software may be designed from the start to suit every possible customer, PD 
software usually is developed from a program that was written for one 
particular person/company/institution.

Koha was designed for a particular library in New Zealand and this shows. eg 
C4/Search.pm contains 16 lines converting between "nz" and "new zealand" but 
nothing converting "uk" into "United Kingdom" or "PNG" into "Papua New 

The thing that causes me problems at the moment is that the original library 
seems to have had a need to catalogue mainly standard fiction books and the 
Marc fields that it was interested in do not include many that were vital in 
relation to other types of book. So the biblio tables only contains a limited 
amount of information:

  biblionumber int(11) NOT NULL default '0',
  author text,
  title text,
  unititle text,
  notes text,
  serial tinyint(1) default NULL,
  seriestitle text,
  copyrightdate smallint(6) default NULL,
  timestamp timestamp(14) NOT NULL,
  abstract text,
  PRIMARY KEY  (biblionumber),
  KEY blbnoidx (biblionumber)

It seems that a subsequent user of Koha needed the subtitle of books. Instead 
of adding subtitle to the biblio table (and making huge alterations elsewhere 
in the code) he seems to have found it easier to add a completely separate 

CREATE TABLE bibliosubtitle (
  subtitle text NOT NULL,
  biblionumber int(11) NOT NULL default '0',
  KEY bibsubidx (biblionumber)
I am a lawyer and my library consists mainly of legal text books and law 
reports. (Legal systems based on common law, such as England, rely 
extensively on law reports while they are I understand less important in 
systems based on civil, ie Roman, law such as France.)

While a novel will only normally be published in one edition, a text book will 
usually go through a number of editions, each one rewriting the previous one. 
Lawyers often need to consult old editions to see what the law was at a 
particular time in the past. So "Snell on Equity" is now in its 31st edition. 
However if I look at eg the report of Halifax BS v Thomas  
http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/1995/21.html I will find that the 
Court of Appeal said: 

"English law has not followed other jurisdictions where the constructive trust 
has become a remedy for unjust enrichment. As is said in Snell's Equity 29th 
ed. (1990) at p.197:
"In England the constructive trust has in general remained essentially a 
substantive institution; ownership must not be confused with obligation, nor 
must the relationship of debtor and creditor be converted into one of trustee 
and cestui que trust.""

A lawyer who wants to rely on that case would naturally want to look up this 
passage in both the 29th and 31st editions (and possibly other editions) of 
Snell to see if there are any changes. So the OPAC interface needs to show 
the edition of the book. (And the same applies to the results of z3950 
searches. If I search for the title rather than the ISBN I would like the 
results to show me the edition: several times I have found that I have 
downloaded details of the wrong edition.) The large law libraries, such as 
that of Lincoln's Inn or the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies will all 
have on their shelves all 31 editions of Snell. We probably have about four 
of them, on different shelves in two different buildings.

I would have thought that the same requirement to know which edition of a book 
is available would exist in all reference and professional libraries. (And 
may be other users want to be able to display other pieces of information 
from the Marc easily on the OPAC.) However Koha does not make it easy to do 
this. All biblios of text books I get from z3950 searches include the edition 
in marc 250 (a and sometimes b) and if I edit the biblio with Marc turned on 
it shows up. But getting at it so that it can be displayed in the appropriate 
places (eg in the OPAC result of search page) seems to be extremely 
difficult. The only solution I can see at the moment is to go through every 
biblio adding the edition at the end of the title: which would be extremely 
boring to do.

I hope that version 3 of Koha will be more flexible. But that would appear to 
be a long way off: is there any way of kludging things in v 2.9?

Roger Horne
roger at hrothgar.co.uk

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