What is Evergreen?
William Jessup University’s Paul Nystrom Library uses an innovative open-source Integrated Library System called Evergreen. Evergreen was developed originally by a consortium of public libraries in Georgia. In late 2008, WJU became one of the first academic libraries to implement Evergreen. It has been a stable product. However, like all open-source software programs it has its share of quirks. The University Librarian and our ILS system administrator Jeff Green have contributed back to the Evergreen ILS community through presenations at professional conferences and answering questions from the curious. Below are some of the frequently asked questions about Evergreen. If you are a librarian or library school student and are interested in Evergreen, you may contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. For technical questions you should consult http://open-ils.org/
Do you host and support Evergreen locally, or do you outsource Evergreen? Would you recommend outsourcing support?
Both are done locally at WJU. In our experience, it is advisable to pay for a technically skilled and creative system administrator. If you happen to have that talent on-campus or in the library, then go with the local option as we have done. Though it is easy to use and stable once installed, it takes significant technical skills, as well as some creativitiy to adapt open-source software to your local needs.
Open-source means free, right?
Yes, free to download, free to install, free to use. However, quality technical support can be a significant expense both for migration and annual upkeep, especially for the small library. Not to mention that your time costs something too; any time working on your catalog is time away from your patrons. Our cost situation is atypical so your best estimate on cost will be an estimate from one of the companies that contract to support Evergreen. They are easy to find if you search the web for Evergreen or Open-ILS.
Aren’t there constant updates for open-source programs?
We have upgraded once a year since our migration. Typically there are several new features added, plus a number of improvements to the existing features.
Is there a full suite of features like one would expected in a for-profit ILS?
Yes, it’s getting there. Technical details are available at http://open-ils.org/. For our purpose, it has been just fine. In 2008, we were moving from an older ILS that had mediocre acquisitions and cataloging and no serials module. It also had an outdated OPAC, so moving to an early version of Evergreen was a big improvement. Our most recent upgrade includes acquisitions and serials support.