By Amy Terlaga (firstname.lastname@example.org) and guest contributors
Two-hundred-and-seventy-one members of the Evergreen community convened in Indianapolis during the last week of April for our fourth annual Evergreen International Conference. This was a sizable increase from last year’s number of 180 attendees. Our community continues to grow up and out, with representatives from Mexico, Finland, the Netherlands, Canada, Wales, and the U.S. in attendance.
Jim Corridan, Shauna Borger and their crew from the Indiana State Library kept us all busy, informed, and entertained during the four days of the conference. Here are some of the highlights:
Hackfest / Interest Group Day (Wednesday)
The Wednesday Developer Hackfest proved to be very fruitful. A number of projects were tackled including making Syndetics content appear in TPAC and a Mexican-Spanish translation of the catalog. Dan Scott showed the others how to sign off on patch contributions, too.
The Documentation Interest Group (DIG) meeting was led by Yamil Suarez of Berklee College of Music in Boston. DIG is looking for proof-readers to review the documentation that has been approved for the website. If interested, you can email email@example.com.
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Reports Interest Group, by Jenny Turner, PALS
Over 30 individuals interested in reports in Evergreen met; attendees were from a variety of libraries with various experience using Evergreen's reports interface. Meeting attendees broke into groups according to interest. Jenny Turner (PALS) convened a Q&A session for Evergreen Reports newbies and investigators. Jessica Venturo (Bibliomation) lead a group that discussed staff client report ideas, new features in 2.2, and brainstormed items to add to the Taskforce's wish lists. Amy Terlaga (Bibliomation) met with current and interested SQL reporters to share ideas on how this form of reporting may be used.
Following the small group meetings, Darrell Rodgers of Emerald Data Systems shared wireframes of development his company intends to do for GPLS to create a user-friendly interface for management-level reporting. These wireframes are now available on the Evergreen website: http://evergreen-ils.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=evergreen-reports:reports_wireframes.
Notes from the Reports Interest Group's meeting will be made available on the Reports Taskforce's website in the near future. Watch the Evergreen General and Reports mailing lists for news about our upcoming meeting - all are welcome! Interested in learning more about our work? Contact Jenny Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conference Opening Remarks: The State of Evergreen (Thursday)
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The State of Evergreen, by Tara Robertson, Systems and Technical Services Librarian, Emily Carr University of Art + Design
I was asked to participate in The State of Evergreen because of the unsung heroes project. I loved the series of blog posts that Chris Cormack has been doing to highlight Koha community members and adapted his idea for the Evergreen community. I learned two things. First, people were reluctant to promote themselves and write bios listing all their accomplishments. I shouldn’t have been surprised by this. It was more effective to ask someone’s coworker, colleague or boss to highlight their contributions. I like that our community values humility, but know that most people enjoy being recognized for work that they are proud of. Second, some people felt that the work that they did was insignificant and not worthy of being recognized. Almost all of these people were women who had been nominated by other people in the community. After an email or two all of these people agreed to be profiled. I want to help foster a culture where we recognize and value all sorts of contributions that are key to making the community strong, sustainable and an enjoyable place to be. What do you want this community to look like? Why do you put your time and energy into making Evergreen better?
User Programs (Thursday and Friday)
The user programs were varied, covering a wide range of topics – everything from “Evergreen Basics” for newbies to the nitty gritty of circulation rules settings with “Down the Rabbit Hole: In-Database Approach For Circulation/Hold Policy Configuration.”
Tony Bandy of OHIONET had this to say about the Template Toolkit OPAC Customizations: Nuts and Bolts program on Friday: "Learning about the Template Toolkit OPAC and all of the coming options for our consortium, (COOL, http://www.cool-cat.org), I'm excited about the many changes on the way."
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: PROGRAM - Resource Sharing in Evergreen
Grace Dunbar, Tara Robertson, and Mike Rylander teamed up to discuss the many different Evergreen objects that could be shared, both within your own library system and beyond, with the whole Evergreen community. Especially exciting was the announcement that Equinox will be establishing a central object sharing service that they will host for the community. Objects such as report templates and serial prediction patterns could be uploaded and downloaded whenever libraries wanted to share the fruits of their labors. Pending some development in the related Evergreen modules, the link to this shared server would be seamless; if a library searched for a report on their own server and did not find it, they could automatically be directed to the shared server. There will also be a built-in description and rating system to ensure that well designed templates and reports are more discoverable.
Team Indiana is in the process of collecting all PowerPoints from the user programs. You will be able to eventually find them by starting here: http://evergreen2012.org/conference-programs-posted-on-blog/
Fun in Indy
There was no end to the good time fun during the evening hours; when the sun went down, the dine arounds, receptions, good drinks and good conversation could be had by all. One of the big hits was the Friday Night Pub Crawl which began at The Ram Brewery, with a surprise private brewery tour. Participants learned about specialty brewmaking with exotic ingredients like bacon. No bacon beer was left to partake, as unfortunately it had a very limited run due to its overly aggressive bacon mouth feel. The night ended at The Slippery Noodle where a blues band played into the wee hours, leaving Matt Carlson of KCLS to tweet, ”Band at the Slipperynoodle tearing the Blues up right now, amazing. Think i've found the best place in Indiana”
Board Update / Developer Update / Community Meeting (Saturday)
Elizabeth McKinney led the Evergreen Oversight Board update which included the introductions of the new Board members Rogan Hamby, Kathy Lussier, and Ben Hyman. Galen Charlton, assisted by most of the Evergreen developers, did a bang up job with the Developer Update. He explained that Evergreen releases will all now have release managers and that Evergreen 2.2.0 will released by June 8th. He also explained the Evergreen developers’ participation in the Google Summer of Code project which will lead to some really nice customizations when the individual projects are completed. (Look for more information about the Google Summer of Code project in an upcoming newsletter, later this Summer.)
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Community Meeting, by Lori Ayre
Lori Bowen Ayre led the community discussion. Topics discussed included finding ways to break out of the various “silos” the various Evergreen committees and groups find themselves working in. For example, developers tend to communicate on the IRC and the developers mailing list. Plus there are special mailing lists for DIG, the Web Team, Report Task Force, the Oversight Board and (just announced) Catalogers. Also, many libraries are gathering info about development work that they may undertake in the future and sometimes there are duplicate efforts underway. Some working groups didn't have any structure (e.g. a mailing list or working area on the web) such as translators and Sys Admins. And in some cases, we just plain needed more people involved (e.g. on QA and user interface).
Ideas for improving the feedback loops between various community members that have arisen during the course of the conference are: get the newsletter going again (this will be implemented), do more community IRC meetings, establish a community manager/coordinator, have the Release Managers and Maintainers communicate more frequently on the General Mailing list (this will be implemented), rework the website on a platform that is easier for everyone to contribute to and which provides targeted areas for communication and resource-sharing among and across all the different working/interest/user groups. An offer to host a "Technical Share Server" by Equinox kicked off a lively discussion about the need for libraries to step up and provide some community services for ourselves.
There was general consensus that we need to find a way to find a way to connect the silos and keep relationships with everyone in the community clear, transparent, productive and consistent with our values. But what are our shared values? Here's what came up from the group: openness, transparency, collaboration, sharing, respect, all contributions are valued, creative ways to do old things, creating a quality experience for patrons, the guiding principle is the user (where the users are patrons and staff). Also, to be crazy awesome!
The Web Team was tasked with sorting out the differences between "Interest Groups" and "Working Groups" in terms of their purpose, what resources are set-up for them (e.g. mailing lists, website space, wiki space). In addition, the Web Team will stage a proof-of-concept website using Drupal to provide the communication and information resources (or at least a place for them) needed by all the users identified during the Web Teams needs assessment work (many of which are represented by the "silos" discussed earlier). The goal would be to make the website easier for all the user communities to find what they need, to communicate with each other and with the larger community, and to share resources with one another. The new Drupal stuff would not replace the wiki, just supplement it. The community will be asked to provide feedback on the proof-of-concept site offered up by the Web Team. Finally, the group decided that a community purpose statement will be drafted by a group of volunteers for feedback by the community. Volunteers were John Houser, Angela Kilsdonk, Jed Moffitt, and Beth Longwell.
That’s it for this conference edition. I’ll end with a couple of quotes from two conference attendees:
“[I ] took away several things of value: new contacts who I can go to for information, and who in return can come to me; the opportunity to help out Equinox with their Millennium connector for Fulfillment, and important information on networks and how they interact with Evergreen.” – John Boggs, Peninsula Library System "From keynote to classes and even after hours, being at the Evergreen 2012 conference helped me to become more familiar with the system and the great contributors to the project." – Tony Bandy, OHIONET
Registration is already open for the 2013 conference in Vancouver, British Columbia: http://eg2013.evergreen-ils.org/. See you all there!