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Frequently Asked Questions about Evergreen
Frequently Asked Questions about Evergreen
1. What is Evergreen?
Evergreen is an open-source, scalable integrated library system. Like many ILSes Evergreen features an online public access catalog and staff client. Features include circulation, cataloging, billing, reporting, acquisitions, serials and much more. As open source software Evergreen's features and support are driven by it's users.
2. What is open source?
Open source software is a term used for licenses that allow for copyright holders to allow their creations to be free to download, free to use, free to view, and free to adapt and improve. Evergreen is released under the GPL (GNU Public License) v2 and many of the documents associated with it are released under Creative Commons licenses. Community members are encouraged to give back to the community the benefits of their work if they build on top of Evergreen.
3. Why does the name "open-ils" show up in mailing list names and other places?
Open-ILS was an early name for the Evergreen project, and is still used internally in the software. The project website now uses evergreen-ils.org.
4. How many libraries are using Evergreen?
We have no idea. Evergreen grows every month with new installations and with no requirement that they centrally register we are always finding out about new and surprising places that Evergreen is used from large public libraries in the United States to small academic libraries in the middle east.
5. Does my library have to belong to a large consortium in order to use Evergreen?
No. While Evergreen was designed for a large consortium, it is also implemented in single libraries. Evergreen's configuration allows for libraries with very flat structures (a single building) to complicated multi-system, multi-branch with sub branch organizations.
Because Evergreen can be used on one or more server "bricks" it means you can run a small library on a single brick or install more to support larger organizations. This also allows for the growth of libraries - the larger you get you can just add more bricks.
6. So do I have to be a technical expert to use Evergreen?
Evergreen requires at least some experience with administering a Linux server. Some libraries contract with a company that offers Evergreen support, development, migration, and other services for their Evergreen installations. Some libraries are fully hosted by commercial companies. Some libraries have implemented Evergreen entirely on their own and maintain their own installations. Some libraries perform their own data migrations and then contract with a company for support.
Evergreen also has a strong and growing developer community dedicated to its health and long-term sustainability. One Evergreen user even installed it to manage his home library!
7. Why was Evergreen created?
In 2005, the library automation system for PINES, the lending network for Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS), was rapidly failing. GPLS and PINES approached other library software vendors, but every system evaluated, whether proprietary or open source, fell short in one way or another, usually due to fundamental design issues.
A few of the vendors GPLS met with admitted that they couldn't handle PINES' requirements, and didn't want to try.
GPLS decided that instead of pointing fingers at vendors or complaining about the limitations of legacy software, their developers would write the kind of system we want our users to experience. Since then, Evergreen has been expanded and redefined by a constantly growing community that still includes GA PINES among many others.
8. Why are you sharing Evergreen with others?
Early on, Evergreen's developers and stakeholders made a strategic decision that the new system would be owned and developed by the library community.
As librarians and library advocates, we believe in the power of information-sharing and openness. We believe that there should be an option for libraries to be self deterministic as an alternative to proprietary options and that the economic model provided by open source models works. We have watched our beliefs turn into reality as libraries from across the United States and Canada have contributed to the Evergreen project. As the community has grown and become invested in Evergreen the project has grown from scrappy start up to a large established and stable entity, just like a business with a large customer base. As every library improves the community experience - adding code, documentation, doing presentations, answering questions on online, we all benefit. There are a lot of ways to add value to the community and that is the purely selfish reason for open source - instead of paying dividends to a corporation our efforts go back into improving our own experience.
9. What is the "Evergreen Effect"?
Libraries on large, shared Evergreen systems find that resource-sharing can significantly increase. We speculate this is because Evergreen was designed around the resource-sharing needs of very large consortia, making resource-sharing easier and more visible for users and librarians alike.
10. I am interested in using a front end for our library system (sometimes called a discovery interface)? Can I use one of these with Evergreen's back-end functions (cataloging, circulation, etc.)?
We welcome these partnerships! We wrote Evergreen so it would easily interface with other products, including catalog front-ends. Since our code is open source, there are no non-disclosure agreements to sign and no mysteries to the functions driving our interoperability, making it feasible to harness Evergreen's formidable strength to a wide variety of interfaces.
There has been interest in integrating Evergreen with products such as VuFind, Aquabrowser, WorldCat Local, Libraryfind, Bibliocommons, etc… These projects are driven by community members with an active interest so to find out the current status of these it's best to contact the community and find out if anyone (library or vendor) is currently maintaining such combinations.
11. How well does Evergreen integrate with other library vendor products?
We welcome relationships with book vendors, enrichment vendors, and other services. Because Evergreen is open source and openly extensible vendors may find it easier to work with us than with proprietary vendors. A 2010 survey's results are available here: evergreen-compatible_products.pdf or here: evergreen_compatible_products_results_survey but the list of products libraries have used as Evergreen has grown is far too long to be maintained. One vendor was having trouble integrating their enriched content with Evergreen but attended our first Hack-A-Way in 2012 and left with fully functioning code by their programmer being able to work directly with experienced community coders.