Release of Koha 21.05

The Catalyst Koha team are delighted to celebrate the release of Koha 21.05. This major release contains 703 changes including 6 new features, 248 enhancements to existing features, and 449 bug and security fixes. There are also 16 new system preferences allowing libraries further freedom to customise the behaviour of their Koha site. This blog will cover a few of the new features and enhancements we are particularly excited about:

Cataloguing feature – add a button to automatically link authority records to bibliographic records

Authority records are linked (or created, then linked) to a bibliographic record when using the new button

This is a cool feature for linking authorities to bibliographic records while cataloguing. There is now a button to automatically link authorities which checks all controlled fields in the MARC record and searches existing authority records to cleverly create links. Plus, if you have the AutoCreateAuthorities and BiblioAddsAuthorities system preferences enabled, you can automatically create new authorities and link them to your record using the new button.

MARC data support enhancement – default sequence of subfields in cataloguing and item editor

The subfields for a MARC tag have been rearranged

This new enhancement allows a library to customise the default order that subfields appear when cataloguing bibliographic records, authority records, and items. When editing subfields in Koha administration, a user can drag the subfield tabs around to represent the order they should appear in the editor.

Architecture enhancements – renaming of system preferences

A selection of system preferences have been renamed to better describe how they’re used, or so they can be read correctly by a screen reader. Some of the changed system preferences are:

  • gist --> TaxRates
  • delimiter --> CSVDelimiter
  • reviewson --> OPACComments
  • opaclanguages --> OPACLanguages

These enhancements are especially exciting because they were written by some of the high school students who participated in the Catalyst Academy 2021!

Circulation feature – Add a ‘Transfers to send’ report

An item in a rotating collection is ready for transfer

The new ‘Transfers to send’ report parallels the ‘Transfers to receive’ report. It displays items that are set to transfer but not yet in transit, for example items included in a stock rota check, or items in a rotating collection. The report will show the reason for transfer, and whether it is available on the shelf to be transferred or if it’s currently checked out.

Authentication enhancement – Shibboleth only mode for single sign-on

Libraries can now enable Shibboleth to work as the only authentication method available, using system preferences OPACShibOnly and staffShibOnly. When both OPACShibOnly and the OpacPublic system preference are enabled, this will result in a seamless single sign-on, where the user will be logged into Koha automatically if they are already logged in on their domain.

Circulation enhancement – Allow easy printing of a patron checkin slip

A button has been added to the Koha checkin module to print a slip describing the patron's checkins for the day

This feature allows the library to print a checkin slip containing information about all the items a patron has checked in that day. Previously, the only way to print a patron’s checkins was to go to their circulation history and export it. This feature provides the ability to get a patron’s checkins information for the day from the Koha checkin module in the staff client. It uses a new notice template with the letter code CHECKINSLIP, so can be customised and translated.

Circulation enhancement – Allow automatic checkin at end of circulation period

Libraries with materials like Museum Passes required a way for those materials to be automatically checked in from a patron's account on the due date. For example, when a library checks out a Museum Pass to a patron, it is not a physical item that needs to be returned, but the patron should only have access to the Pass for a specified period of time, or a ‘loan period’.  Thanks to this enhancement, libraries no longer need to manually check these in. Libraries can now configure specific item types to be automatically checked in when the new cronjob is enabled.

Fines and fees enhancement – Display the time a fine was collected or written off

Fee receipts now show the time they were last updated

This enhancement updates the information displayed in Koha for transactions. Fines, fees, and payments can be changed after they are created, such as when they are written off, or voided. This means the simple ‘Date’ isn’t accurate enough. With this enhancement, the current ‘Date’ field in accounts tables is renamed ‘Created’, and a new column ‘Updated’ is added, to display the last updated timestamp of the transaction. These changes can be seen both on the patron’s account, and in fees notices.

Holds enhancement – Add option to set a default expiry date for holds when hold is placed

New system preferences have been added to allow the default setting of hold expiration dates

Previously, Koha didn’t automatically set expiration dates for holds so this means they could live in the system forever. This enhancement adds new system preferences to control the setting of a default elapsed expiry date for holds when they are placed. For example, your library could configure holds to expire automatically after ten days, or even 10 years.

Notices enhancement – Add option to send notices from owning library instead of issuing library

Sometimes an item is found or checked out by a patron at a library that is not the item’s home library. Because of this, the and cronjobs can be configured to specify whether the notice should be sent to the patron from the library owning the item, rather than the library issuing the loan.

OPAC enhancement – Show item-level hold details for patrons when logged into their accounts

OPAC holds now display whether they are item-level holds or not

When a patron was viewing the holds they’ve placed on the OPAC, Koha would not show them if they requested a specific item or the next available item. With this enhancement, patrons are now able to see whether their hold was item-level or record-level. This is useful in case the patron made an error when placing the hold, so they can cancel it.

OPAC enhancement – Adding a filter to the OPAC checkout history

OPAC checkout history now has useful functions and a search filter

This enhancement makes the OPAC checkout history more useful and powerful by adding a search filter and various functions such as exporting the table in CSV format, copying the rows of the table, and printing the table.

Reports enhancement – Add option to preview SQL from list of saved reports

SQL reports can now be previewed

Being able to see the SQL code of a saved report without needing to execute or edit the report is helpful, because it saves time! This enhancement adds a button to the Actions dropdown for each report to preview it’s SQL code. From within the preview, a user can then Edit, Duplicate, Schedule, Delete, and Run the report.

Reports enhancement – Add option for taking a list parameter in reports

SQL reports can now take a list as input

This enhancement adds a new option for taking input in reports. You can now specify the input as a ‘list’, for example “<<Biblionumber|list>>”, which will allow inputting a newline-separated list of values. The user will be able to input their values when executing the report.


Work has continued in an effort to make Koha more accessible:

  • Title elements (the text visible on the browser tab) on the OPAC and staff client now start with the most unique information first
  • The structure of headings on the OPAC has improved and headings are now more descriptive
  • Breadcrumbs on the staff interface now show the most unique information first
  • The OPAC has improved labelling to make it more accessible to people using screen readers

Read more about the 703 features, enhancements, and security and bug fixes of the 21.05 Release on the Koha Community Website.

Written by Aleisha Amohia, Catalyst Koha Developer.

Catalyst Koha

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