What is Open Source?
Open Source software is software where the underlying code is available to anyone to modify or adapt. Firefox and Linux are two well known examples of open source software. Evergreen is an Integrated Library System (ILS) that anyone can download and use. Those with the expertise to do so can write code to modify how it behaves.
In practical terms, what this means for Bibliomation is that we are part of a community of libraries and library consortia using and developing Evergreen. Enhancements are created and submitted to the community, and each release of Evergreen includes changes that have been agreed to by the community. Bibliomation has developed or paid for development of a number of Evergreen enhancements, and we are active participants in the Evergreen community.
Why Open Source?
Selecting an ILS is no small undertaking for a library. For Bibliomation, choosing an ILS that will satisfy all sixty of our public and all twenty-two of our school libraries is an enormous task. In 2004, Bibliomation selected a new system after months of rigorous and arduous research only to have it discontinued a few years later when the company that made the software was purchased by a competitor. Open source software was growing in popularity among libraries, and its appeal was heightened by the loss of our chosen system. Open source software is not owned by any one company, it is supported by more than one development and technical support team, and it can’t be discontinued after a merger.
Feature development is carried out by a community of libraries using the software. Improvements made by one organization benefit the entire community. Open source also provides true access to our libraries’ data, which is in keeping with library ethics and philosophy. For all of these reasons, Bibliomation undertook the search for a new ILS hoping to find an open source solution.
Evergreen was developed by the PINES consortium in Georgia for its member libraries. Because it was designed by and for a consortium, the feature set was just what Bibliomation was looking for. In 2009, Bibliomation began a pilot project with a small group of libraries as development partners. The first library went live on March 3, 2010, becoming the first Connecticut library to use an open source ILS. The rest of the development partners followed soon after and the entire consortium migrated over Memorial Day weekend, 2011.
Bibliomation’s Participation in the Evergreen Community
Bibliomation staff are regular presenters at the annual Evergreen conference and active participants on the Evergreen discussion groups and on various Evergreen committees. Bibliomation is also a member of MassLNC’s Evergreen Development Initiative http://masslnc.org/