Displaying unique title and volume count on the Koha staff client – Part 2

In this followup to our previous post on upgrade-friendly way of displaying unique title and copies’ count on the staff client, we explore a few variant use-cases reported by our readers.

Last December when we posted about the nifty little trick of displaying unique title and volume count on the Koha staff client, we didn’t realize that so many people would find something to be so useful. We received quite a few comments from all over the world. In this post, we are going to try and look at some of these use-cases that people thought could use something like this. So, if you are reading this and haven’t read the original post, it may be helpful to read Part 1 first.

The questions we received were:

(a) what if we have multiple branches?
(b) How to show the stats for the user’s logged in branch only?
(c) How do we show the overall totals if we have multiple branches?

Recently, the library at Our Lady Queen of the Mission School, Salt Lake had started to catalog both their junior library as well as the senior library. So, they presented the perfect opportunity to showcase these 3 use-cases.

1. What if we have multiple branches?

This was a question that came from Hussein Al-Nasri from Egypt. Hussein had tried the code snippet, but since it was hard-coded to handle only one single branch (the first on in the list of the JSON data returned), it wasn’t showing him what he wanted – the data for each of his branches.

The solution
$(document).ready(function() {
  if ( $('#main_intranet-main').length ) {
  $.getJSON("https://qmsl-staff.l2c2.co.in/cgi-bin/koha/svc/report?id=1&annotated=1.", function(data) {
    if ( data.length ) {
      $('#news1').prepend('<div class="newsitem" id="mystats"><table class="table table-striped" style="width: 100%; background: none;"><thead><th colspan="3" style="text-align: center; font-weight: bold; padding: 8px; line-height: 1.42857143; vertical-align: middle; text-transform: uppercase;">Library Statistics</thead><tbody><tr id="mystatstb"><td><strong>Branch</strong></td><td><strong>Unique titles</strong></td><td><strong>Total Copies</strong></td></tr></tbody></table></div>');
      for ( var key in data ) {
        $('<tr id=\"tr'+ key + '"><td class="text-center">' + data[key].homebranch + '</td><td class="text-center">' + data[key].bibs + '</td><td class="text-center">' + data[key].items + '</td></tr>').insertAfter( $( '#mystatstb' ) );

2. How to show stats only for the logged in branch?

This came from Freddy Enrique Pelayo from Peru, South America. He left a comment on the blog post asking:

if the system were to have more than 2 branches, will the screen show information according to the branch the user logged in?

The solution
$(document).ready(function() {
  if ( $('#main_intranet-main').length ) {
  $.getJSON("https://qmsl-staff.l2c2.co.in/cgi-bin/koha/svc/report?id=1&annotated=1.", function(data) {
    if ( data.length ) {
      $('#news1').prepend('<div class="newsitem" id="mystats"><table class="table table-striped" style="width: 100%; background: none;"><thead><th colspan="3" style="text-align: center; font-weight: bold; padding: 8px; line-height: 1.42857143; vertical-align: middle; text-transform: uppercase;">Library Statistics</thead><tbody><tr id="mystatstb"><td><strong>Branch</strong></td><td><strong>Unique titles</strong></td><td><strong>Total Copies</strong></td></tr></tbody></table></div>');
      for ( var key in data ) {
        if ( $('#logged-in-branch-code').html() == data[key].homebranch ) {
          $('<tr id=\"tr'+ key + '"><td class="text-center">' + data[key].homebranch + '</td><td class="text-center">' + data[key].bibs + '</td><td class="text-center">' + data[key].items + '</td></tr>').insertAfter( $( '#mystatstb' ) );


The key line here is $('#logged-in-branch-code').html() == data[key].homebranch. Whenever an user logs into the Koha staff client, the hidden <span> element with the id logged-in-branch-code holds the code for the user’s logged in branch. In the above snippet, we simply introduce a check to see if the code matches the homebranch code in the JSON array. If it does, we show the value for that branch and not for the other branches.

3. How to show the total for all branches?

This scenario was pointed to by Dr. Apurba Jyoti Mazumdar, Assistant Librarian, Assam Univerity, Silchar, India.

The solution

$(document).ready(function() {
    if ( $('#main_intranet-main').length ) {
    $.getJSON("https://qmsl-staff.l2c2.co.in/cgi-bin/koha/svc/report?id=1&annotated=1.", function(data) {
        if ( data.length ) {
            $('#news1').prepend('<div class="newsitem" id="mystats"><table class="table table-striped" style="width: 100%; background: none;"><thead><th colspan="3" style="text-align: center; font-weight: bold; padding: 8px; line-height: 1.42857143; vertical-align: middle; text-transform: uppercase;">Library Statistics</thead><tbody><tr id="mystatstb"><td><strong>Branch</strong></td><td><strong>Unique titles</strong></td><td><strong>Total Copies</strong></td></tr></tbody></table></div>');
            var totalbibs = 0;
            var totalitems = 0;
            for ( var key in data ) {
                $('<tr id=\"tr'+ key + '"><td class="text-center">' + data[key].homebranch + '</td><td class="text-center">' + data[key].bibs + '</td><td class="text-center">' + data[key].items + '</td></tr>').insertAfter( $( '#mystatstb' ) );
                 totalbibs = totalbibs + parseInt(data[key].bibs);
                 totalitems = totalitems +  parseInt(data[key].items); 
            $( '<tr><td><strong>TOTAL</strong></td><td class="text-center"><strong>' + totalbibs + '</strong></td><td  class="text-center"><strong>' + totalitems + '</strong></td></tr>' ).insertAfter(  $('#mystats tr:last')  ); 


As you may have noticed, in this version, we added an extra check which ensured that we only display this grid of data *only if* any data is returned. We hope that by answering a few of your questions, this post is of some use to some of you.

Quicktip – Ordering the display of your custom patron fields

An easy-peasy way to order the display of Koha’s ExtendedPatronAttributes fields.

This is going to be a brief tutorial, ExtendedPatronAttributes provide the capability to add custom fields to Koha’s patron management e.g. if we wish to capture say Program enrolled or Roll No. or other demographic details that we may be required to maintain under (a) law of the land or (b) governing rules of our library, this feature of Koha is friend we need to take help of.

If you have just landed on this blog and have no idea what we are talking about, we suggest that you may like to first read this earlier post – Harnessing Koha’s ExtendedPatronAttributes (aka patron custom fields). And while you are here, you may also like to visit this article.

Ok! Enough backstory, now back on topic! 🙂 When we define new custom fields to Koha using Home › Administration › Patron attribute types, the key thing to remember here is that these are ordered and displayed using alphabetic ascending sorting order of the defined Patron attribute type code.

Which means, when we defined a list of custom fields to capture student registration details e.g. as given in the screenshot below, we want them to be displayed in the order of the codes are numbered in the blue circles i.e. Student code, Registration No. and Roll No. in that order respectively.

Instead what we get is this:

The Solution

We simply need to number our codes. The way to do this is simply to prefix them with a serial number. Here we chose to use 00_, 01_, 02_”. Of course, this also meant that we had to dump off our old codes and put in these as replacement.

Hint: Do this before you start using the defined fields while entering your patron records. While it can be done later, you need to know what you are doing if you don’t want to mess up your patron data.

You can see what we did below:

And as you can see below, we have the fields displayed exactly in the order we had wanted in the first place.

Quick Tip – What to avoid when adding news items to your Koha OPAC

Avoiding common errors while using Koha – setting the library name correctly for news.

The News tool available in the Home -> Tools -> Additional tools section of the Koha staff client allows us to publish news and updates across – (a) OPACs (b) staff client and (c) printed slips generated by the library.

Being a handy way to publish library related updates, librarians like to use it. However, there are a few things that we need to keep in mind when doing this. For starters, we should not be logged in into the staff client as Koha’s database administrator; we must be logged in either as a superlibrarian OR as a library staff user with access rights to the News tool. The next thing to understand is even more important – the “Display location” and “Library” drop-downs.

Earlier today, we received a ticket on our online helpdesk –

“We have written a new notice but nothing is displayed on the opac.”

When we cross-checked, we found that to be true. So we checked the new notice to find out what may be the problem. And sure enough it was exactly what we had expected had happened. The notice / news was set to display on the OPAC of client-partner’s defined library branch, instead of being set to “All libraries”.

Now you may ask how can this be wrong??? Well, up until an user logs in via the OPAC, the “library (branch)” is *NOT* set as Koha has no way of knowing which branch (since a Koha instance can cater to multiple library branches of an organisation) of the library the user is looking at at the moment. The notices / news would have showed up *if* the user had logged in into *that* defined branch in this case.

So, the logic to keep in mind while publishing a news item on the OPAC – select a specific branch for display *ONLY* if you want the notice to be branch specific, otherwise, keep it generic as “All libraries”.

Once this was corrected, the news defined showed up just fine as can be seen below.

Displaying unique title and volume count on the Koha staff client

An upgrade-friendly way to show unique title and copies’ count using Koha’s SQL reports in tandem with Koha’s Reports web service API, JSON formatted data and some Javascript.

Kia ora!

Last week my good friend Dr. Gautam Sarma, Asst Librarian, K.K. Handique State Open University in Assam posed an question on the Koha Users forum on Facebook. He wanted to know what was the easiest way to view the total count of unique titles as well as total number of copies (item holdings) in his Koha catalog.

Given that he comes to us from a SOUL user’s background, this is a reasonable demand. SOUL developed and marketed by Inflibnet does show this information at a glance, especially when using the cataloging module. Similarly, so does e-Granthalaya, another LMS developed by NIC, Govt of India. The following screenshot snippets show how this information is displayed for SOUL v2.0 and e-Granthalaya 4.0 respectively.



In Gautam’s own words he was looking for something that would allow him to:

hurriedly say that how much data we have by entering our ILS

While Koha’s SQL reporting facility makes finding this information a breeze, thanks to this ready-made SQL report by Nicole C. Baratta, it does not immediately allow the users to have the sort of heads-up view that SOUL and e-Granthalaya allows. A library staffer have to go to Reports -> Guided Reports -> Use Saved and then finally manually select the actual report and run it to see the unique title and copy count statistics.

At L2C2 Technologies we have been doing some things like these for our client-partners. So I promised Gautam that I will soon post about it. And as it would happen, yesterday Mr. Kalipada Jana, Librarian, Basanti Devi College and a client partner wanted the same facility for his hosted instance’s staff client. We decided to use the Basanti Devi College library as a live use-case (since they are currently doing retro-conversion) and document the same so that other users may also be able to benefit from the same.

Concepts – or what makes it all work

Koha since long have provided a set of HTTP based web service API. According to the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – the global standards body that defines anything and everything related to the web, a web service is “a software system designed to support inter-operable machine-to-machine interaction over a network”.

Among the various things Koha’s web services API allow includes the Reports web service, which allows an SQL report’s data to be made available in JSON format, as long as the report is marked as “public“. A public report is accessible via a URL that looks like this: http://MYOPAC/cgi-bin/koha/svc/report?id=REPORTID.


In this case, we called the report as a public report using the reports web service via https://bdcl-staff.l2c2.co.in/cgi-bin/koha/svc/report?id=6&annotated=1.

The SQL query being executed by the call was :

SELECT homebranch, count(DISTINCT biblionumber) AS bibs, 
       count(itemnumber) AS items 
FROM items 
GROUP BY homebranch 
ORDER BY homebranch ASC

The JSON data (which thanks to the annotated=1 querystring parameter) was returned as the following key-value pairs : [{"bibs":"1374","homebranch":"BDCL","items":"2359"}].

The solution

With the report (in this case report id #6) returning the branch-wise unique title and copies information in JSON format, it was now only a small matter of putting together some JavaScript so that the information could be displayed in a more human-friendly format on the staff client. The following JQuery snippet was all that was required to be placed into BDCL’s IntranetUserJS system preference to get our desired result.

$(document).ready(function() {
    if ( $('#main_intranet-main').length ) {
    $.getJSON("https://bdcl-staff.l2c2.co.in/cgi-bin/koha/svc/report?id=6&annotated=1", function(data) {
        var branches = data[0].homebranch;
        var bibs = data[0].bibs;
        var items = data[0].items;
        $('div.newsitem').prepend('<div class="newsitem" id="mystats"><table class="table table-striped" style="width: 100%; background: none;"><thead><th colspan="3" style="text-align: center; font-weight: bold; padding: 8px; line-height: 1.42857143; vertical-align: middle; text-transform: uppercase;">Library Statistics</thead><tbody><tr><td><strong>Branch</strong></td><td><strong>Unique titles</strong></td><td><strong>Total Copies</strong></td></tr><tr><td class="text-center">'+branches+'</td><td class="text-center">'+bibs+'</td><td class="text-center">'+items+'</td></tr></tbody></table></div>');

And voila! Houston! We have touchdown! 🙂


Hope this post helps you at your library. Happy hacking!

Koha and the “magic” of XSLT – Part 2 : Show accession no. in OPAC results page

How to add 952$p (typically the accession no.) to your OPAC’s Results page display.

About 6 months back, we had posted about “Koha and the “magic” of XSLT : displaying new MARC fields on the OPAC“. This post can be thought of as its Part 2 as it introduces a couple of new concepts – (a) looping through a list of repeatable values and (b) punctuating these values for correct display. If XSLT or Koha with XSLT sound like something you are hearing for the first time, we strongly suggest that you first read the Part 1 first (see above).

The Backstory

Our tutorial style blog posts are usually the result of addressing some sort of user demand. In this case, this post came about because of Mr. Kalipada Jana, Librarian at Basanti Devi College, Kolkata. Yesterday he had filed a ticket on our helpdesk saying that he would like accession number(s) attached to each bibliographic record to be displayed on the OPAC results page. This is something that Koha does not do by default. But having seen such a display elsewhere he wanted to have the same.

The default Results page


What the user wanted


The Process

Koha stores it holdings item identification in MARC21 tag 952$p. The user here was using this field to store the individually unique accession numbers of their items in holdings. Now a bibliographic record may quite easily have multiple copies with separate accession numbers. So the XSLT snipped we needed must do the following:

  1. Handle looping over to display repeated 952$p (when there were multiple copies of the same book.
  2. Separate the accn nos. with “commas” if there where multiple copies of a book and after the final accession number terminate the line with a period instead of a comma. And if there was only a single copy, then instead of comma use a period.
  3. .

  4. Suppress this accession no. display for bibliographic records that do not have any holdings.

The code

<!-- L2C2 - 2017-11-28 adding accn no to results page 952$p -->
<xsl:if test="marc:datafield[@tag=952]/marc:subfield[@code='p']">
<span class="results_summary accn_no">
<span class="label">Accession number(s): </span>
    <xsl:for-each select="marc:datafield[@tag=952]">
        <xsl:value-of select="marc:subfield[@code='p']"/>
            <xsl:when test="position()=last()">
                <xsl:text>, </xsl:text>

In the first line (not the comment) we check if the MARC record has a 952$p field and sub-tag. If it does only then the rest of the code is executed. This is what helps us to suppress this new display for records without any accession numbers in its 952$p. The next couple of lines push out the necessary HTML code since the record has at least one accession number i.e. 952$p. In the subsequent two lines immediately after, we set up two loops. The first one loops through all the 952 (holdings) field in the bib record, while the inner loop looks up the $p sub-field. The inner most bit i.e. <xsl:choose><xsl:when test="position()=last()"> handled the punctuation. First if it checks if the currect MARCXML 952$p sub-node is the last one, if so it places a period and terminates the line. Otherwise, it places a comma as punctuation between the multiple accession numbers.

This code was added into the custom file which we named as MARC21slim2OPACResults-bdcl.xsl. This file is same as the default MARC21slim2OPACResults.xsl file, the only addition being the snippet given above. In order to get Koha to start using our file instead of the default, we placed the full path of our new file into the OPAC system preference – OPACXSLTResultsDisplay.

See it in action

If you want to see this XSLT in action, click here.

Managing patrons with same permanent & local address

Setting your borrower’s local address same as their permanent address with just a single click during patron entry into Koha ILS.

Often folks when unable to find some nifty feature that was present in their erstwhile LMS but not there in Koha, is found to be exclaiming – “But we can’t do that with Koha!”. Well, we have news for you – Koha is open source and that means, you can build / modify the parts that you need or are missing. But you do not know how to do that. Well… *that* is not really Koha’s problem. But fear not, if you are willing and have the aptitude for poking around code you can do it too. There are plenty of open access resources that show you how to do so, just waiting for you to pick up and start working on your skills. After all, it is said:

If you give a hungry man a fish, you feed him for a day, but if you teach him how to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.

Why this post

At L2C2 Technologies, we work with a lot of academic libraries where they need to record both the permanent as well as local address of their students. Koha allows for recording more than a single address for a patron since donkey’s years. If you look at the schema of the borrowers table in the Koha database, you will see that there are fields to record both the primary address as well as alternate address. These two set of fields fit nicely into our permanent and local address requirement.


However, the library staff often complain that it is useless extra work to re-enter the same data over in both set of fields as many users often have one and the same address for both. As a result, we are sometimes asked how to cut down this extra work. In this post, we are going to share one of the ways by which you too can do the same, should you need to do this.

Choosing our tools

All we use are snippets of JavaScript, jquery and css to achieve our objective. All of which go in into the Koha database as part of the IntranetUserJS system preference. We do not touch any template file or change any underlying PERL code. This way our tweak is guaranteed to survive Koha version upgrades without any further effort on our part.

The steps… as easy as 1-2-3

Since we do not want to re-type the same information, the only option is to copy it from first set of fields and that what we do by adding a checkbox HTML form input element. We give this checkbox the id copypermaddress and insert this into the DOM just before the first li element belonging to the parent fieldset memberentry_address on the Add Patron screen.

$('<li><input type="checkbox" name="copypermaddress" id="copypermaddress" value=""><label for="copypermaddress">Same as permanent address:</label><div class="hint">Click to copy permanent address data</div></li>').insertBefore(' #memberentry_address > ol > li:first-child ');

While the above insertion gets us the following screen, it still does not do anything i.e. if you clicked the checkbox, nothing would happen yet. In the next step we cover that.


So we add a listener that will wait for state-change of the checkbox. In plain English, that means it will detect when a user clicks that checkbox and then based on whether it was selected or unchecked, appropriate action would be taken. And that exactly what happens below. The first part goes into action if the checkbox was checked and the part coming after the else kicks in when it is unchecked. In the first instance we copy over the values from the permanent address field and in the second part we undo the copy and blank out the local address fields.

$('#copypermaddress').change(function() {
  if(this.checked) {
  } else {
    $('#B_state').val('West Bengal');

In the two following screenshots we get to see how exactly this works. In the first one, only the permanent address has been added. While in the second screenshot, we see how the data has been copied over when the checkbox is clicked.




  1. .insertBefore()http://api.jquery.com/insertbefore/
  2. :first-child Selectorhttps://api.jquery.com/first-child-selector/
  3. .change()https://api.jquery.com/change/
  4. .val()http://api.jquery.com/val/
  5. Koha DB Schema – http://schema.koha-community.org/master/

JQuery quicktip : Using Patron Attribute fields without double rowed textarea boxes

A JQuery quick tip for Koha ILS

Often we are have clients who want to capture additional data for their patrons. For schools and colleges, this typically includes demographic details, roll numbers, program enrolled etc. The Koha-friendly way to do is by using Extended Patron Attributes aka custom fields for patron data.`


The thing about these patron attribute fields is that if these are expecting textual data input, Koha uses the textarea HTML element for them. Which is fine, except the textarea elements are sized to 2 rows by default. This something that confuses some users who expect to see an input element instead. So, we decided to adopt a middle way solution – to reduce the textarea element’s rows attribute from 2 to 1.

JQuery to the rescue

As always we turn to trusty jquery which makes this something ridiculously easy thing to do. Here is the code snippet:

  if ($('#pat_memberentrygen').length) {
    var tareas = $('textarea[id^=patron_attr_]');
    for (var i=0; i < tareas.length; i++) {
      var t = $(tareas[i]);
      var tarea_reset_rows = t.attr('rows',1);

We plug that code into our IntranetUserJS system preference and we are good to go! 🙂 The screenshot below shows the change it brings to the patron data entry UI.


Code explained

In the first line (i.e. the one starting with if) we check if we are actually on the patron member entry page. Next we create a JS array of only the textarea element on *that* page, *which* have an id that begins with patron_attr_. And finally we loop through that array and change the rows attribute of each textarea fields whose reference is stored in the array.

Using Google Drive to upload files into directory under Koha OPAC DocumentRoot

Almost a year back, we had shared a post about how to use google drive as a remote backup storage. If you are unfamiliar with it and wish to understand the concepts presented here, we suggest that you first read it and then proceed with this.

Why did we do this?

Our client partner Bangabasi College is putting up a collection of their college questions papers from previous years as PDF files. You can have a glimpse of it by clicking here. The page that is being presented to the visitor to the OPAC is generated using a facility called “Koha as a CMS“. Now here is the thing, while the HTML required to display the scanned question paper PDF files is handled well by the “Koha as a CMS” functionality, it does not handle the part where we need to actually upload the PDF files into Bangabasi College’s Koha instance’s Apache2 DocumentRoot path.

So here is what we did. A normal SCP user account was created on the server hosting Bangabasi college account, into which the PDF files were uploaded into by the library staff users. However, after this, it required manual intervention from us, in order to move these files into the correct DocumentRoot path. We had created a folder QB for the question back under the DocumentRoot as /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/bangabasi/qb. And into this QB folder the uploaded PDF files were moved into by us.

But this created one problem, a big one. Our client was dependent on us at all times to move / sync the uploaded files into their final destination the QB folder. Also, if they needed to correct and re-upload a PDF file, they would again need us to help them move the corrected file into the DocumentRoot location. So, basically if we were not available for any reason, we would be holding them up from updating / uploading their own files into their hosted Koha. While our client was happy with how things were happening, to us, this was clearly not at all a desirable situation.

Our client was already using Google Drive and that’s when we figured than instead of simply using the Google Drive for backup, we could also use it to allow our client to do direct, independent uploads – their data in their own hands at all times. And thus this experiment.

Setting it all up

1) We created a folder named “qb” on Bangabasi College’s Google drive.

2) Next on the server within the folder /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/bangabasi we ran the command drive init. This asked us to authorize the google drive command line client and fetch the API key, which is what we did after logging in into Bangabasi college library’s gmail account. The API key was copied from the browser and pasted back into the command line. Basically what this did was to create a hidden directory named .gd under /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/bangabasi and create a file there called credentials.json. This completed the authentication setup with bangabasi’s google drive account.

3) Lastly, we set up the following cron job as the root user:

*/5 * * * *  cd /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/bangabasi && /usr/bin/drive pull -quiet qb

to execute on our server once every 5 minutes.

How it works

Now whenever a library staff user uploads a PDF file into their Google drive’s qb folder, every 5 minutes the cron job on our server will check if there is a new file on the remote Google drive. If there is, then the new file(s) are pulled down automatically onto the /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/bangabasi/qb. In this case for instance 125 .pdf files totaling in at about 19 MB were pulled down in ~18 seconds.

Similarly in case of a modification or removal of a file from Bangabasi’s Google drive “qb” it would be similarly synced or removed from the /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/custinc/bangabasi/qb folder on our server.

How to reference the files

Since the PDF files are stored under /bangabasi/qb folder under the Koha OPAC’s DocumentRoot i.e. /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/, we simply need to refer to the files with the following href attribute value set to /bangabasi/qb/<filename> in our HTML code.

Pros and cons of this approach

First the cons:

1) Google’s AI algorithms gets to read all your PDF files. But since our client is already using Google’s services, this is apparently not a major concern to them. And anyway our client is allowing public dissemination of these files, so Google is going to read it one way or another.

2) If the library staff user accidentally or maliciously deletes the Google drive folder or files in it, then the very next run of the pull command will remove the same off our server. But same would have been the case if the staff users had root / sudo access to the Koha DocumentRoot (i.e. /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs). In fact, in the latter case, they can even rm -rf the entire server, removing *everything* from it.

The Pros

1) You can now allow your staff users to freely upload the processed files without having to give everyone the access to the actual Koha server’s filesystem. The chances of accidental or malicious deletion of files off the Koha server is largely minimized.

2) The speed! Simply put uploading files to Google drive is usually faster then directly uploading to the Koha server hosted on the Internet. The transfers between Google servers and the hosted Koha server also happens at a high rate of transfer.

3) You basically have *two* online copies of your PDF files – (a) on the Google Drive folder and (b) on the Koha server, which is good in terms of redundancy.

Koha and the “magic” of XSLT : displaying new MARC fields on the OPAC.

A short tutorial on using XSLT to make MARC fields in your data visible on the OPAC.

Earlier today, Suresh Kumar Tejomurtula, a member of the venerable LIS-Forum mailing list being run out of IISc Bangalore, posted a question on that list:

Under language codes of 008/35-37 and also under 041$a I added language code. for eg: tel for Telugu language. But I do not see any difference to the view of the record, except that the marc tags contains that values. Adding these fields data will enable library team to understand the language of the material. My question is, How will the users of the OPAC, who do not know about marc language codes will understand the item language [from just the 3-letter code sequence].

Short answer : Using XSLT

Much of Koha’s superpowers on the OPAC (as also on the staff client) side comes from its judicious use of XSLT. When we search for documents in Koha, the result that is returned from the database by way of the various perl modules that perform much of Koha’s internal plumbing, comes in as an XML (eXtensible Markup Language) document. More precisely it is returned as a MARCXML record. Readers of this blog who are familiar with the MarcEdit software may have often encountered a MARCXML record. Those who are not so familiar may well like to read up a bit from here before proceeding with this post.

So what is XSLT?

Wikipedia gives the definition of XSLT as –

“XSLT (Extensible Stylesheet Language Transformations) is a language for transforming XML documents into other XML documents, or other formats such as HTML for web pages, plain text or XSL Formatting Objects, which may subsequently be converted to other formats, such as PDF, PostScript and PNG.”

Where to start?

At the OPAC level, the XSLT magic is primarily driven by two files i.e. (a) MARC21slim2OPACResults.xsl and (b) MARC21slim2OPACDetail.xsl. Koha’s default settings of how we see the search results on the OPAC and the document specific details in the Normal view, are defined in these two files.

N.B. Directly editing these two files is strictly not advised unless you are a XSLT guru.

Lucky for us that Koha’s system preferences provide options to override the defaults by creating new XSLT files and telling Koha to use the new ones instead. The screenshot below shows the default setting.


The two files are available inside a folder named xslt under the locale of the selected theme you are using e.g. /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/opac-tmpl/bootstrap/en/xslt/ on a package-based installation. By default most of us in India would be using the English locale i.e. “en”. The default Koha theme is “bootstrap”. Thus if you are using a custom theme and/or different locale look for the files under that.

Step #1 : Copying the XSLT files

We will be fetching the 3-letter language code from MARC 008/35-37 of each marc record. Since our Koha instance here is named as “demo”, we’ll make a copy of the file MARC21slim2OPACResults.xsl as MARC21slim2OPACResults-demo.xsl and the MARC21slim2OPACDetail.xsl as MARC21slim2OPACDetail-demo.xsl.

N.B. You can give any name to the copies you make, but it is suggested that the less adventurous you are with the names, easier it will be for you to trace your steps back if you make a mistake while editing them. And trust me you will make mistakes, at least initially.

Step #2 : Editing MARC21slim2OPACResults-demo.xsl

The MARC21slim2OPACResults.xsl is what drives the display of results of a search on the Koha OPAC. And it does not show the value of 008/35-37 i.e. MARC language code, while displaying the search result. To add this facility, we need to do the following to our copy i.e. MARC21slim2OPACResults-demo.xsl. Around line no. 70 or there about, there will be this line <xsl:variable name="controlField008-30-31" select="substring($controlField008,31,2)"/>. Add the following line after it – <xsl:variable name="controlField008_35-37" select="substring($controlField008,36,3)"/>.

Explanation: we’re defining a new variable named controlField008_35-37 and in it we are storing the 3-digit value found at 008/35-37 from another variable – controlField008.

The second step in editing this file is to add the code to check if (a) 008/35-37 actually exists (e.g. if you have a blank 008 field, 008/35-37 won’t exist) and (b) it is set as something other than “und(i.e. undefined). The following code does that first and proceeds to match the value found in 008/35-37 against 23 different languages. These languages are English and the 22 official languages of India as per the Eighth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. You can add or remove any language from this list as you require. However, when you do, please make sure that the codes you setup in this list here are coming from the Code Sequence document of the MARC Code list for languages as published by the US Library of Congress.

This means that you must also be using these same exact codes in your MARC records in Koha.


Where we place this code will depend on where we want this language to listed in the results. In our case, we decided to add it between Material type and Format. And thus in our case, the code was added at line no 637. If you too want language to be displayed between the Material Type and Format, then look out for this line <xsl:if test="string-length(normalize-space($physicalDescription))"> and add this block before.

Saved the file and moved on to the next section.

Step #3 : Editing MARC21slim2OPACDetail-demo.xsl

The process is similar to what we just did above. Open the file MARC21slim2OPACDetail-demo.xsl for editing and go to line no. 51 (or there about) and look for this line <xsl:variable name="controlField008" select="marc:controlfield[@tag=008]"/>. Add the following line immediately after that: <xsl:variable name="controlField008_35-37" select="substring($controlField008,36,3)"/>.


Since we wanted the “Language of document” to come after Material type, we added the code immediate after the node <xsl:if test="$DisplayOPACiconsXSLT!='0'"> is closed but before <!--Series: Alternate Graphic Representation (MARC 880) -->; in our case, this worked out to be around line no. 195. Finally, we saved and closed the file.

Getting Koha to use the new XSLT files

The Koha system preference OPACXSLTResultsDisplay was changed from its original setting (i.e. “default”) and set to the path of our new file MARC21slim2OPACResults-demo.xsl i.e. /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/opac-tmpl/bootstrap/en/xslt/MARC21slim2OPACResults-demo.xsl. Likewise the other system preference OPACXSLTDetailsDisplay was changed to /usr/share/koha/opac/htdocs/opac-tmpl/bootstrap/en/xslt/MARC21slim2OPACDetail-demo.xsl. It was time to test our XSLT modifications.

And it works!

Since pictures are said to be worth a 1000 words, we will let before and after screen grabs do the talking here. Also if anyone wants to see directly how it actually looks after applying the changed XSLT, visit the URL http://demo-opac.l2c2academy.co.in/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=18

Before : Using the default MARC21slim2OPACResults.xsl


After : Using the new MARC21slim2OPACResults-demo.xsl


Before : Using the default MARC21slim2OPACDetail.xsl


After : Using the new MARC21slim2OPACDetail-demo.xsl


Koha quick tip : Duplicating a bibliographic record for a multi-volume book

Yesterday a young colleague called up with a query. She wanted to know how she could create separate bib records for a multiple volume book (e.g. “The Complete Works of Swami Vivekananda” which comes in 8 volumes) by editing the following volume specific info:

  1. ISBN;
  2. page count and physical description;
  3. price;
  4. date of copyright / publication;

while keeping other common information same across the records.

I told her that do this, she would first need to catalog at least *one* volume (preferably the first volume) of the book and then simply duplicating the record and changing the fields she needed to change in each case. This feature is well-documented in the Koha Manual under “Duplicating Records” inside the chapter on Cataloging. Continue reading “Koha quick tip : Duplicating a bibliographic record for a multi-volume book”