RCLS Home page | Library Catalog
Skip to Main Content

RCLS: ILS Services: FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions were received and answered during the Firstliners look at Koha. They are grouped by topic.


Will libraries using the Acquisitions module in Koha be able to import MARC records?

Implementing the Koha Acquisitions module is a post-migration project. Part of the set up will be to implement EDIFACT ordering, which will enable us to import MARC records provided by vendors. Until then, our CAPS records process will continue as the way to create brief MARC records for new acquisitions, which will be overlayed with full MARC records by RCLS catalogers.


Is there a way to move an item record from one bibliographic record to another?

Yes! First, make a note of the barcode of the item that you'd like to move. Next, perform a catalog search and find the target bibliographic record. Click the record to go to the record details screen. Click the "edit" button above the title. Click "Attach item." Enter the barcode of the item and click submit. The item will now be associated with the new bibliographic record. 

How is an item added to an existing record?

From the record you want to add the item to, click New and select New item. This will take you to a screen where you can enter the details for the item you want to add. This process is described in more detail in the Koha Community Manual.


Is there an override option in Koha? Will we be able to override for things like the number of renewals or checking out a non-circulating item?

Yes, staff will continue to have permissions to override. No override codes will be needed. Instead, a notification will appear requiring a confirmation that staff wish to override whatever restriction is in place.

How can we modify a due date?

Modifying due dates is not possible in Koha (a big change from Symphony!). One way to adjust due dates is to use the renewal option. 

The process to renew items from the patron's summary screen is outlined in the Koha Community Manual. If changing the due date to a specific date, you may set this in the renewal due date field before processing the renewal. If the item does not have any renewals left, be sure to check the box to override renewal restrictions.

Alternately, you can check in the item and then check it out again with the desired due date. If checking the item in triggers a hold or a transfer, you can use the Ignore button.

How do we bill a patron for a damaged item?

If an item is determined to be damaged beyond repair and is thus "lost" to the library's collection, changing the item's lost status to Damaged - Bill to Patron will result in a charge to the patron's account for the replacement price of the item.

Note: This is a Lost status and not a Damaged status. Use one of the damaged statuses (Bindery, Damaged - Needs Review, or Repair) to indicate that an item is damaged but may be returning to the collection after review or repair. Once the item is determined to be a complete loss, the Damaged - Bill to Patron lost status should be applied.

If an item does not have an accurate replacement price at the time it is marked Damaged - Bill to Patron, you may issue a manual invoice or manual credit to apply an adjustment to the amount owed (remember to add an explanatory note!). Once the patron pays for the item, it will no longer appear under their current checkouts.

What information is available for an item's checkout history and how does this relate to the checkouts for a bibliographic record?

The Checkout history tab available when viewing a bibliographic record in the catalog will show a log of checkouts of the item since migration to Koha and checkouts to patrons in Symphony who opted for their checkout history to be saved. 

Checkout history is also viewable from the Items tab. Total checkouts is available under the "History" heading. The number displayed here includes the total charges counter migrated from Symphony and any checkouts after the migration to Koha. Note: When clicking the link to "View item's checkout history," you will be taken to a statistical page that will only show the counter of checkouts since the Koha migration.

Is "date last seen" the same as "last inventoried" in Symphony?

Yes and more. Date last seen is a combination of Symphony's "Last Activity" and "Last Inventoried" fields. This information is collected in a single field in Koha. This date is updated when an item is checked out, checked in, or inventoried.

Our library is fine free on most of our items. Is there another way to check in items fine free, or do we have to remember to check the "forgive overdue charges" box every time we open the check in window?

Fines are determined by the circulation and fine rules map that we have set up in Koha. If your library is fine free and your rules are configured correctly, your overdue items should not be accruing fines or charging patrons.

How do we charge someone for a library service if they do not have a library account or library card?

This is possible with Point of Sale, available from the Koha menu. You can enter charges and record monies received here for transactions such as copier fees, printing, and donations. More information is available in the Koha Community Manual.


In Symphony there is a "home location" and a "current location." The current location can show when an item is temporarily on display. How do we temporarily mark an item as being on display in Koha?

From the Koha home screen, you will see a button for Displays. This is where you can create and manage lists of circulating items to be used for various displays.

Fun fact: This is actually being run by Koha's Course Reserves module, a tool that academic libraries use to manage lists of circulating items used by courses. We've added some special scripts to change a few of the labels to make it more display-friendly, but you may find lingering terms related to course reserves. A separate Displays module is in development and will become available in a future version of Koha.

You'll first want to create the display, giving it a name and filling in details such as the library and location of the display. Once the display is created, you may add items to the display individually or as a batch. After scanning the barcode of the item(s), you will be presented with some choices about what item information will change when the display is enabled. Only select location to change and choose the location where the item will be on display. 

To enable displays, go to the display details and check the box next to Enabled?. This automatically updates the location for all the items in the display list. Once the display is closed and items are ready to be returned to the shelf, go back into the display details and uncheck the box next to Enabled? to deactivate the display and reset the item locations back to normal.


For the "Holds Queue," is there a way to save column selection and deselection settings so that they remain for the next sign in?

It is possible for individual users to choose which columns to display when viewing the Holds Queue, however these settings cannot be saved on an individual basis. The default column visibility settings are set at the administrative level and affect all users of the system. If you feel that the default settings should be changed, please present this suggestion to the appropriate user group (RUG or CTUG). Recommendations from the user groups are then sent to the ILS Committee for consideration and then to the Directors Association for a vote. Once approved by the Directors Association, the system-wide change will be implemented in Koha.

Is there a way to modify the holds slip? We have a self-service holds shelf and we do not want a patron's personal information showing up on the slip.

Yes, the slips are customizable. This is something that we can do for you at RCLS HQ. We will be producing a questionnaire prior to go-live to get feedback about how you would like your notices and slips to appear, or you can reach out to us and let us know how you would like this to be customized for your library.

How will we order and hold multiple copies of a book for book discussion groups?

Staff accounts are able to place multiple item-level holds on the same bibliographic record. This will need to be done with each individual item, similar to the process in Symphony.

Note: Do not place a hold for the next available item. This is a record-level hold and cannot be duplicated for the same user. You must scroll down to the list of items attached to the record, select one to put on hold, and click the hold button at the bottom of the page.

How do you extend a hold for a patron?

From the patron's record, navigate to their active holds (tab next to their checkouts). This table will show you the status of all the patron's checkouts. To adjust the expiration date for one of these holds, click the hyperlinked title of the hold to go to the record's hold information. On this table, identify the hold for the patron you wish to extend (you will need to match to the patron's barcode). Click the date to select a new date from the date picker. To save your changes, click Update holds at the top of the holds table. Confirm that the date was updated by returning to the patron's record and viewing their holds.

Note: A bug has been fixed that prevents the date from being modified if it is on or after the expiration date. This fix will be available after go-live.

We currently run an "Expired Holds" report on a daily basis to see what materials need to be returned to the shelf or routed back to the owning library. How is this done in Koha?

Expired holds are available in the Holds awaiting pickup tool. From the Circulation menu, click Holds awaiting pickup. Note the tabs at the top. Click Holds waiting past their expiration date to view a list of all expired holds.

The "Onshelf List" in Symphony is automatically generated at set times during the day. How will this be set up in Koha?

This is called the Holds Queue in Koha. It is available from the Circulation menu and it shows hold requests in real-time. To fill gaps in the system, the Holds Queue will be completely rebuilt twice daily, once overnight and once at noon. We recommend the following workflow:

  • Run the holds queue for your library once during the morning.
  • Pull and confirm as many holds as possible before noon.
  • Ignore any holds your library does not want to fill.
  • Run the holds queue for your library again after 1:00 p.m.
  • Holds previously ignored should no longer appear in your library's holds queue.


Can users define the default function of the green search box at the top?

In short, no. However, there are a few things we recommend that make getting to the Search catalog function easier:

  • A keyboard shortcut, Alt+Q (Windows) or Opt+Q (Mac), switches the search function to the catalog
  • Use the Advanced Search module for catalog searching by clicking the button from the Koha home page
  • Click Search in the black menu bar at the very top of the page, which also takes you to the Advanced Search page
  • Use your browser's bookmarks to save the Advanced Search page for easy access
Can you pin the tabs you are using the most to the toolbar?

Since Koha is browser-based, the best way to do this is to utilize your browser's bookmarks or favorites functionality. You could create a special folder of Koha pages. Most browsers have a bookmarks or favorites bar that displays under the URL address bar which provides quick access to a collection of bookmarks. 

Many browsers now support user profiles and link bookmarks and preferences to the user profile. A user profile could be set up for individuals or for departments. When the user profile is linked to more than one browser, the saved bookmarks and settings are copied from one computer to another.

If your browser supports startup pages, this is another option for quickly loading your preferred Koha pages every time you start the browser. 

It is also possible to create application shortcuts on your computer desktop that navigate to a specific URL. You can set up shortcuts on a computer desktop for the Koha home screen, Advanced search page, or wherever you'd like to go in Koha!

The black menu bar at the top of the Koha screen is customizable, however changes made here would apply to everyone using the system. If there's something you'd like to see permanently added to this menu bar, please bring this suggestion to a user group (RUG or CTUG). If accepted as a recommendation, it would then go to the ILS Committee and then on to the Directors Association for a vote before being implemented.

Patron Records

In a patron's record, overdue items are referred to as "Previous Checkouts." Can that be changed to "Current Checkouts"?

The headings in the checkouts table are time specific to the checkout session. When new items are checked out to a patron, they appear under a heading called “Today’s checkouts.” Everything else is under a heading called “Previous checkouts.” Everything on the table is considered a current checkout because items disappear off this table when they are returned and checked in (or deemed lost and paid for, etc.). It is a way of visually separating what was checked out during a current session from everything else the patron has checked out, independent of an item's due date.

How many steps does it take to see what makes up the charges on a patron's account?

To get to a patron's charges, click the Accounting tab on the left side of the patron screen. If the patron currently has a balance due, you will be taken to the Make a payment tab by default, which will show all outstanding charges on the patron's account. For a complete history of past charges and payments, click the Transactions tab. 

Is there a way to have a patron blocked?

In Koha this is called a manual restriction. The process for adding a manual restriction can be found in the Koha Community Manual. The manual restriction options available to RCLS libraries are:

  • Invalid or No Email on File
  • Invalid or No Phone Number on File
  • Invalid or No Street Address on File
  • Card Pending
  • Manual

A note should be added with further explanation along with the staff member's initials and the three-letter library branch code.

Can you see when a library card was created?

Koha will display the date when a patron's account was opened. This can be found under the patron's Details tab, in the Library Use box on the right next to the label Registration date. This information will migrate over from Symphony. When a patron's account is renewed, the expiration date will change but the registration date will remain the same. Koha cannot track the date a library card was created, and a library card may have been created or reissued on a date different from the registration date.

What if your library does not expire patron cards? It looks like an exact date is needed to complete patron registration.

Yes, an expiration date is required by Koha. By default, we have set the expiration date for patron accounts to 120 months. Libraries can set their own policies for expiration dates. If your expiration dates are longer or shorter, you may modify this on the patron edit details screen at the time of registration or as a correction afterwards.

Is a patron's password and PIN the same thing? How do we see this or change it for a patron?

There is a terminology change. Koha will use passwords instead of PINs. Existing PINs will migrate as-is, but we will be using a stronger password requirement to create passwords for new patrons. Our recommendation is the following formula:

First two letters of last name (capital and lowercase) + Last four digits of primary phone number + exclamation point

Example: Patron with the last name Smith and phone number (845) 555-7719


A big privacy change with Koha is that staff will no longer be able to see a patron's current password. Staff may assist patrons with resetting their password using one of the following methods:

  • Manually resetting it using the Change password button at the top of the patron record screen
  • Sending a password reset email to the patron by going to More > Send password reset from the patron record screen
  • Instruct the patron how to request a password reset from the Aspen Discovery login screen

The second two options assume that the patron has a valid email address on file.

Are a patron's Overdrive checkouts visible in Koha?

No. However, you may be able to access this information by using masquerade mode in Aspen Discovery.

Public Access

What does OPAC mean?

Online Public Access Catalog. Koha has its own OPAC, but RCLS will not be using it. Aspen Discovery, our discovery layer, functions as our OPAC and will continue to do so after our migration to Koha.

Will we be using the Koha OPAC in concert with Aspen? If not, can we get the OPAC view links on the test server to direct us to Aspen?

Aspen will remain our Discovery layer and OPAC for the public. A test instance of Aspen is now linked to the Koha test server and all OPAC view links in catalog records now redirect to the Aspen test instance. Please note that the Browse Categories function is not currently operational in the Aspen test instance.

Searching the Catalog

Is there an option to limit the number of locations shown in search results to make a more compact view?

By default, the Location column in search results will only show copies available at the logged-in library. To see all copies available across RCLS, click the yellow Show items in all libraries button above the Location column.

This is an enhancement that was added especially for RCLS and is not documented in the Koha Community Manual.

I'm trying to use the search function to generate a list of items in a specific shelving location in our library, but the search tool is returning a list of items that we have which are marked as being in that location in ANY library in the system.

There are two types of search tools in Koha - one that searches bibliographic records and one that searches item records. 

The Advanced Search tool offers the option to limit by library and shelving location. However, it searches the entire bibliographic record and returns results that match on those values regardless of their relationship to each other. Therefore, the search tool thinks it has a match when it sees the library branch code in one field and the shelving location code in another field even though the library branch code and shelving location code are not in the same field pertaining to the same item. This is a known bug in Koha and has been reported by the community. You can see what others are saying and join the conversation on Bugzilla.

The Item Search tool is a much better tool to use if you are looking specifically for a list of items. It has similar limit options for library and shelving location. Because it is only searching item records, it will return a list of items that match on all the criteria selected.

Can users turn off their catalog search history? Or can it be manually deleted?

Search history for staff members is currently turned on and is being kept. Staff members may access it by clicking their username in the upper right corner and selecting Search history. Searches can be deleted individually or in batch. More details are available from the Koha Community Manual.

Library patron search history will not be kept in Koha. These privacy settings are controlled by Aspen Discovery.

Staff Access

Will there be a generic login for all Circ staff or will each staff member have their own login?

We will not be using generic logins for Koha. It used to be that we could reasonably assume that a person who has left the library would no longer have access to the ILS because their physical access to staff machines had been removed. Koha is available from anywhere with an internet connection. If we kept generic logins, we would need to constantly change passwords and notify remaining staff whenever a roster change happens.

Every staff member will have a unique login. It is fast and easy to log out and log back into Koha when staff members rotate on and off the Circulation Desk.

Will different staff members have different permissions?

Yes, elevated logins will be able to edit items in batch--as they do now. Right now, all firstliners have this permission so that you can learn the tool and teach it to others who may need to use it. These logins will also be able to manage and create new item groups. Before go-live, Martha Sullivan will reach out to directors for a list of who needs elevated permissions.

We will also be able to assign permissions for report creation to those who complete SQL training. After go-live, RCLS will provide SQL report writing education for use in Koha. Users who attend that training will get the ability to write their own custom reports for their library's use and to share with the rest of the system.