[Koha] Koha as a journal citation catalog

Fred King kohauser at phred.us
Thu Sep 26 05:58:29 NZST 2013

Greetings, all,

A couple of months ago, I brought up the topic of using Koha as a catalog
of journal articles. I've been working on this ever since, and I finally
have our system up and running. Unfortunately, it's behind a firewall so I
can't give you a link, but I can tell you about it and post screen shots
if there's any interest.

I work in a teaching hospital, and a lot of our residents and staff
publish articles, most of which are indexed in Medline. For years, I've
been collecting citations and putting them together on a web page. Several
years ago, we started Authors Day, where we recognize the literary efforts
of our associates. We also put together a bibliography that includes the
Medline citations as well as conference abstracts, poster presentations,
books (editor, chapter author, or full book)--basically anything we know
about, and not limited to medical literature. Last year we started using
Reference Manager to track citations. I wanted to see if I could use Koha
to make the publications more accessible within the hospital.

My conclusion: yes. It takes a lot of work to set up, and it takes more
steps than I'd like to convert Medline records to (my modified version of)
MARC, but the end product is a lot more versatile than the bare Medline
citations with local authors' names highlighted, which is what we had.

A lot of the constraints I faced are specific to our situation and type of
library, so YMMV. In particular:
   Most of the citations are from Medline.
   Most articles have a lot of co-authors, not all of whom are local.
   The citations had to be formatted for Koha and Reference Manager.
   I wanted to make authors' names uniform; Medline citations don't have
authority control.
   I wanted to include the authors' departments.

We're using Koha 3.12, running Ubuntu.

There are two main parts to setting this up: modifying Koha templates to
display the information I wanted, and modifying citations to fit Koha.

Modifying citations: I use Ovid to export the Medline citations in RIS
format. PubMed and Ebsco will also export tagged citations--anything with
field tags will do. RIS is a format used by Reference Manager, EndNote,
Zotero, and a few others. The main (hard!) part was coming up with an
appropriate MARC tag to match the field tag. Since I envision this being
for institution-wide use only, I didn't worry too much about straying
slightly from MARC standards. One of my colleagues is entering conference
presentations, etc., into Reference Manager; as soon as I can get my head
above water, we'll convert those tags to MARC, too.

Modifying Koha: I modified the OPACXSLTDetailsDisplay and
OPACXSLTResultsDisplay templates to show just the fields I wanted. I
didn't need to display item/barcode information, so I took out the item
display at the bottom. I put in the PMID (every article in Medline has a
unique identifier; I used MARC 099), MeSH (MEdical Subject Heading, 650),
department (I used 656), publication type (clinical trial, editorial,
randomized controlled trial, etc., 657), abstract (520), and a few others.

General Koha Setup: Right now, I have only one hospital's authors in the
database, so that's the only branch. If this catches on, we can add
others. For Item Types I used Journal Article, Book (Chapter Author), Book
(Editor), Book (Author), Poster, and a few others. That's about all I had
to do.

Adding Citations: As I said, more steps than I'd like. Here's an outline.

1. Determine which citations are local authors. I've already written too
much, so I'm going to leave this part out. Let's just assume I end up with
a few citations to add, with all the fields I want to include in both
Reference Manager and Koha. I've also added links to the full text of the
articles, if available.

2. Standardize the authors' names and add their departments. Medline/RIS
has two fields for the authors' names: standard AU (Lastname
FirstIntitalSecondInitial) and full FA (Lastname, Firstname
MiddleInitial). I've already taken out non-local authors from the FA list.
I use Replace Text (free from www.ecobyte.com) to search for the name as
it appears in the FA field and replace it with the name and department (on
a separate line, with a separate tag). If Replace Text doesn't find a
match, it puts NOT FOUND by the author's name. I search through the
results for NOT FOUND and either add the author and department, or add the
variation of the author's name. For example, Dr. William J Rubin of the
Department of Hematology might be listed in the Medline FA field as
   Rubin, William J
or Rubin, Wm James
or Rubin, Billy
and by editing the Replace Text file, all of those names will be converted to
   Rubin, William J
complete with RIS field tags for name and department ready to upload.
Adding new names and variations to the Replace Text file takes a while,
but I think it will become faster as I catch all the missing authors and
name variations.

3. Import the edited file into Reference Manager. We can use this database
to print bibliographies by name, department, etc. It's not necessary if
all you need is a catalog.

4. Convert RIS tags to MARC. Replace Text again.

5. Remove duplicate department tags. In step 2 above, I replaced each name
with the author's name and department. However, a lot of authors are from
the same department. Uploading a MARC record with three instances of
Hematology will result in a catalog display with three instances of
Hematology as well. I want each department mentioned only once, so I have
to go through each citation and take out duplicates. There's probably an
easier way to do this.

6. Compile the citations into a .mrc file with MarcEdit.

7. Upload into Koha.

A few thoughts:

The most important part is to think everything out beforehand. No, this
wasn't meant to be surprising news. I thought out most things, but not
everything. I discovered that modifing 360 records one-by-one takes a
while. No, that's not meant to be surprising either.

Was it worth the time and effort to develop? I think it was. We needed a
database of local authors anyway, and the steps to convert from RIS to
Koha don't add much more to the process. Setting up a separate instance of
Koha, modifying it to display what I wanted, and developing the RIS to
MARC tags took a lot of time, but once that's done, it's fairly simple.

Why modify Koha instead of using some other system? I didn't want our
users to have to learn another system. Neither did I. Koha is easy to use,
and we're using it for our library catalog already.

Will anyone use it? I hope so. :-)

If anyone has made it this far and would like to hear more, I'll be glad
to provide more information. Thoughts, improvements, etc., are all

Fred King
kohauser at phred.us

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