SCLENDS is a consortium of libraries in South Carolina and their talk was next up on my agenda.
While it was a panel, Rogan did most of the talking and started with some background info on South Carolina: 2008 population was 4,479,800, there are 46 counties and 2 public library consortium. In June of 2008 they started evaluating their ILS, they didn’t have any major concerns with their current system, but they knew it wouldn’t be supported anymore and so they started looking to the future. So, they invited Equinox to come visit and talk about Evergreen. About 15 libraries attended the demo and what they learned was that a lot of the librarians were thinking along the same lines. At this point they were not a consortium – but they thought maybe they could form one.
10 libraries decided to step forward and join the consortium – of these they were coming from 5 different ILS backgrounds. And on May 28th, 2009 they all went live with Evergreen.
Lessons they’ve learned:
- Front line staff can not get too much training and preparation
- Exceptions need to be managed
- Evergreen isn’t even at 2.0 yet, Horizon was at 7.x – which means the things they didn’t like about it were so deeply engrained that there was nothing anyone could do about it. That said, Evergreen is starting to look like an old ILS quicker than any of the non open source systems out there.
- Public relations are critical
- Learn to ‘think green’ in cleaning data
- Take the time if you’re migrating to play with it and see the underlying logic – then clean your data up so that it will work cleanly in Evergreen.
- Learn to think global and not local
- They may have 10 different sets of circulation policies – but they are sharing materials and shipping things back and forth – so you need to think of the whole group.
13 more locations were added on October 15, 2009. It was at this time that they didn’t know what they didn’t know. That said, there was no other way to do this than to just jump right in.
And on December 3, 2009 3 more libraries joined and there was a nice distribution around the state of libraries in the consortium. At this point they learned that there a lot of duplicates in their system. This means that the patrons were asking for copies of books from other branches that their branch already had.
One of the funny things that Rogan mentioned that his libraries learned was that Evergreen is very MARC centric – meaning it actually treats MARC as standard – which other ILSes have ways to ignore. The example he gave was the Leader – he knew librarians that thought that was out-dated and not used anymore – and Evergreen uses it in searches and it will effect the way things are found!! While we all know MARC can be a pain – it is a standard and should be treated as such.
The patrons are giving feedback like:
- “There’s sooo much more now”
- “I love getting these books so fast”
- “I’m still getting used to it but the staff have been wonderful”
which is awesome!! They also have patrons getting excited because they can now get items that their local library doesn’t buy (due to collection development policies) from other branches. It has opened up the world of resources for patrons.