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State of Evergreen

Apr - 22 - 2010
Nicole C. Engard

Bob Molyneux was up next with the ‘State of Evergreen’ talk.

Evergreen 2010
  • Dec 1999 PINES goes live with 26 systems, 98 outlets
    • People would actually pass over their local library to go to a PINES library instead. So PINES grew because librarians saw their patrons leaving for libraries that belonged to PINES.
  • June 2004 Lamar Veatch commits the Georgia Public Library Service to a one year test of an open source initiative
    • Bob believes that a system for a consortial environment could only have been developed in an open source environment. Bob talked about a consortium that had 2 systems with 70ish libraries in each. He asked if they had split the network and they said yes. Bob feels this is because of limitations in the software – when they change to Evergreen they will bring the 2 groups back into 1.
  • Sept 5, 2006, Evergreen goes life (46 system)
  • November 2007, Prince Rupert Public Library, Prince Rupert, BC
  • June 2008, University of Prince Edward Island
  • November 2008, Tsuga (Innisfil, Ontario, Public Library)
  • June 2009, National Resources Canada

Bob mentioned the changing nature of FUD — people used to asked “Open source? you going to use code written by a bunch of dope-smokin’ hippies?” now they are a bit more educated.

As we already know, Evergreen is the first consortial library system designed for sharing of an online catalog, shared resources and geographically spread out systems. Evergreen can accommodate libraries having their own separate policies (each physical building can decide on their own policies). I haven’t used the admin side of any proprietary ILS so I’m thinking this sounds like those systems don’t allow this kind of thing … but I could be wrong in this assumption.

The true nature of open source – developers of Koha will learn from Evergreen and Evergreen developers will learn as Koha develops new features!

Bob invented a new word – ‘superconsortium.’ A superconsortium is a group of consortia who want to work together. An example is when someone from one consortium wrote to the mailing list to ask if anyone wanted a kids OPAC and several others replied. This is how the Kids OPAC development project for Evergreen was born.

What is happening now is that they’re getting a different type of person asking about Evergreen. People know more now than they did a few years ago. This is a great thing for open source and for open source library systems!

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5 Responses so far.

  1. Edward M. Corrado says:

    I think Bob is on to something, the whole “it is developed by a bunch of people in a garage wearign Duran Duran T-shirts” type of complaints is not heard that much anymore. I think what Georgia PINES did with Evergreen was amazing considering the short time they had to work on it. Not only did they come up with a very usable product at low cost, but I think what might even be more important is the proved that with the proper infrastructure and leadership, Open Source can be, and is, viable for libraries.

    BTW: To be fair, some of the proprietary ILSs out there can accommodate separate circulation policies. Like Open Source products, proprietary ones vary greatly in there ability to deal with different tasks. While I am a big supporter of Open Source, I think that we do my harm then good when we say proprietary ILSs can’t do this or that, when we mean Proprietary ILS X can’t do this or that. We don’t want FUD against Open Source, so we shouldn’t spread it about non-Open Source offerings.

  2. [...] the past, the Open Source community had to deal with a lot of FUD. As Bob Molyneux reportedly described at the Evergreen Conference, “people used to asked ‘Open source? you going to [...]

  3. Nicole says:

    Ed, thanks for clarifying for me – like I said I was just making an assumption based on the way things were being said, no one actually said that proprietary systems can’t do that.

  4. Bob Molyneux says:

    Nicole,
    Thanks for the nice report. Three corrections, please:

    1) The word “superconsortium” was independently created by Mike Rylander and me and at about the same time. We found this out as we so often do in boarding a plane when we each said to the other: “I have something to tell you.” And we both said the word “Superconsortium” about the same time. This was February 2009. We had both seen the beginnings of what is now a functioning thing: cooperation within the community at the consortial level. I think the Kids’ OPAC story with Amy’s post to the list asking for folks who would join in supporting development was a signal event.

    2) Re FUD. The term “educated” is Nicole’s and it may be correct. I think that what happened with each piece of FUD, it went away when it was no longer true or when it had been discounted. Dope smoking hippies? The code worked so impugning the developers wouldn’t work any more. Only in Georgia? Prince Rupert PL goes live in British Columbia and end of that. Only public libraries…there is the U of Prince Edward Island and end of that. Etc. Now the current FUD has to do with acquisitions and in a bit that will not be heard any more. If FUD is still in the air, we will see what it is. The shifting FUD has been amusing.

    3) I do not believe I said anything about the capabilities of other ILSs except to observe that Evergreen was the first system designed to be a consortial library system (another term Mike and I independently arrived at). There are other systems that handle consortia. The example I cited–without naming it–it seems to me to be an historical fact that the network split because of limitations in software and folks there essentially confirmed it to me. Limitations in software led to a similar choice for PINES: split and have limitations in software force a change in a longstanding information policy pursued with Georgia public libraries–or do something else. They did something else: Evergreen. Another signal decision in the history of library software. The information policy word was made flesh in Evergreen–if I may paraphrase Scripture.

    Incidentally, that ILS today is used in systems that reportedly circulate more items than PINES so it is more than circulation transactions. I understand it was a database limitation but don’t know enough about it to do more than report what I was told.

    I do want to add to something Ed said. There are many fine ILSs that are supported by excellent companies. And before we get too frisky, it is worth remembering a few numbers. (rough numbers from memory and before the second cup of coffee!) There are in the US 9,200 public library systems running in 17,000 “outlets.” In the US, there are fewer than 200 public library systems with fewer than 500 outlets running Evergreen. We are just at the beginning of this thing and we have a ways to go before we can swagger.

    It is clear, though, particularly after that excellent meeting in Grand Rapids–what a gem of a town–that we have some pretty good resources to build on. And, I think we all believe, a better model for most libraries.

    Bob Molyneux

  5. Nicole says:

    Thanks for the clarifications Bob, there is only so much I can catch while trying to write up everything that’s being said and keep my spelling and grammar in check :)


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