Digital Odyssey 2007

Building our Future

Art Rhyno and Dan Scott on Evergreen: Notes

Posted by odyssey2007 on April 22, 2007

Photos | Slides: Rhyno, Scott (pdf)

Note on Rhyno’s slides: Click on the screen to move to the next slide. If you would like to go to specific slides, point your mouse at the bottom-right corner, and wait until the navigation menu appears.

Evergreen is an open-source integrated library system (ILS), which was developed for a consortium of 252 public libraries. Art Rhyno provided an introduction to open source and Evergreen, while Dan Scott presented the business case for adopting an open source ILS.

If you would like to find out more about the technical aspects of Evergreen, check out Open-ILS.org, which includes links to the FAQ, a blog, listservs, downloads, and even a documentation wiki that features a document called, “The Harried Library Developer’s Guide to Using OFBiz as an Acquisitions/Serials Module” (pdf).

Open Source Tackles the Library World’s Biggest Headache

Art Rhyno began by quoting a comment made by Karen Schneider (“Evergreen is huge“), and pointing to an article by Marshall Breeding (“An Industry Redefined“) that mentions Evergreen as one of the “open source library automation systems [that] may disrupt the business models of the industry.”

He proceeded to define “open source” as describing “practices in production and development that promote access to the end product’s sources,” and added that the difference between free software and open source software lies in the licensing involved, as promoted by FSF and OSI. Some of the open source projects he mentioned were Wikipedia, Core Practice, and OpenCola Softdrink.

Rhyno then told the story of how Georgia’s Public Information Network for Electronic Services (PINES) decided to change its old ILS and adopted Evergreen. (More information is available in the PowerPoint presentation made at the Future of ILS symposium held last year.) His “shocking slide” emphasized that all PINES libraries had migrated to the Evergreen ILS on schedule. To which someone from the audience replied that they were still waiting for a vendor’s long-promised release.

He went into the core technologies behind Evergreen and its scalability and stability, before showing what he called the “obligatory costs slide,” which showed that Evergreen cost much less and even provided more support. Then, it was on to screen shots of the catalog and the interface used by the staff, and the development of acquisitions and serials modules, which are being developed in partnership with University of Windsor.

Rhyno also shared some of his musings regarding decoupling the public interface from the backend using Solr Flare, and turning the RFP process into an open source one (see the first comment on “Alternatives to RFPs?“).

Finally, he ended by referring to a MakeShift 02 challenge that involved building a water purifier given certain constraints. Rhyno noted that problems can be solved when communities work together, and the successful implementation of Evergreen shows that he’s right. Open source may, in fact, be the cure for the library world’s biggest headache.

Evergreen: freedom and control

Dan Scott has written about his presentation on his blog (“Evergreen and the business case for choosing an open source ILS“) and uploaded his slides (pdf), so the following will be limited to the details he does not go into.

In his presentation, he provided links to Simcoe County’s Library Co-operative, whose staff provide technical support for member libraries; “Are ROI Metrics For Technology Valid?” which indicates that return on investment (ROI) on IT improvements made should include “decreases in errors and rework, improved asset utilization, lower capital costs… [and] improved response to customer demands”; and “The Enterprise Committer: When Your Employee Develops Open-Source Code on the Company Payroll,” which states that “nearly two-thirds of developers in North America use open-source modules.”

Scott also mentioned a project he’s working on that will allow Windows users to run Evergreen without having to install Linux (see “Evergreen VMWare image — oh so close!“); and Equinox and LibLime, which provide support for migrations to Evergreen for a fee, if you don’t want to go it “alone.”

But perhaps the most important point Scott made was that using open source software would not really mean doing it all by yourself. Even if you can’t pay for support, there is a growing community that is willing to help. As he said, in reference to expensive vendor support, “We support ourselves better than the support we’re paying for!”

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Posted by Von Totanes

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