Tag Archives: Evergreen

This is what I’m talking about…(Evergreen ILS)

Whenever I’ve talked to colleagues about our move to the Evergreen ILS, one of many “high level” overview criteria that gets discussed was our requirement for supporting vendor neutral discovery alternatives. Moving to a new ILS is one thing, but betting all the farm on a single discovery solution is a lesson we should have all learned: proprietary systems continue to significantly lock in customers either technically and/or via business model traps (e.g. witness the plethora of discussions on next gen catalogue listservs dealing with *basic* data access issues, or vendors hiding API’s behind costly add-on requirements, etc.).
Discovery interfaces

So when we discuss a slide like the one above, we make note of all the exciting work happening at the discovery level for augmenting your OPAC. There are some compelling proprietary solutions and lots of exciting open source projects now gaining visibility and marketplace traction. But where do you place your bet on? One of our requirements was NOT having to place any one single bet.. We need to invest in a foundation that values keeping our options open, and protecting our ongoing investment in the ILS.

Evergreen’s OPAC search is very good and getting better all the time. And there’s lots of exciting work in the pipe from the innovators at ESI as well as community implementors. But for those libraries (especially academics) looking for integrating other digital content, providing complementary feature sets, or just integrating the ILS with a pre-existing search toolbox, Evergreen’s openness and flexible API provides a refreshing and solid foundation.

So This is What I’m Talking About: Evergreen 1.6 with Endeca at McMaster University. Kudos to Wiktor for getting that started.

But wait, maybe Endeca is not your flavour. My colleague Warren Layton began some proof of concept work on a connector to vuFind. But vuFind not your cup of tea (where’s that Andrew Nagy when you need him!)? How about an Evergreen connector for Blacklight available in next Spring?

Or how about…we just say that things are just getting started. Evergreen’s providing us with a a solid and authoritative indexing engine for our OPAC, and now we also see how a diverse community is beginning to lay out the options, all-you-can-eat buffet style…

NRCan Library Update: our department uses Autonomy for full-text search of all website contents. We’ve recently been asked about exposing our Evergreen content into the site wide search, and hope to have something completed next Spring or early Summer. Right now, our current focus is our second and last phase of migrations into our new Evergreen system.

Koha manoeuvres

Very interesting developments in the Koha community, with lots of discussion brewing since Liblime announced its enterprise version last week. Lots of concerns about forks (read also atz’s comments), and a public response from Liblime’s CEO – it’s worth following that thread.

Not being a Koha user, I don’t have much of an immediate stake in the maneuvering going on, but I was struck by Marshall Breeding’s Open Letter to the Koha community where he writes:

There comes a point where an open source software projects grows beyond what can be managed through informal channels…Recent events suggest that it’s time to take a closer look at the governance of the Koha project.

I suggest a shift from a community comprised of developers to that of a community focused on the libraries that use the software.

I appreciate Breeding’s industry reviews, but I have to say that he’s been a bit of a downer and confusion-monger on open source IMHO: late on the train, and mis-reading the terrain. The observation about “informal channels” is both inaccurate and a bit of a red herring, and so is the suggestion that “a community comprised of developers” is what needs to be shifted to one “focused on the libraries that use the software.”

On “what can be managed through informal channels,” what is he talking about? Anybody with even the minimal experience with these communities can quickly see much blood, sweat and effort goes into “formal channels,” however you want to define them: commercial support options, community investment models (foundations, vendors, sponsorships, etc.),  documentation and support, exploring business models, community growing, and so on. But does a small technology startup become Cisco Systems overnight? How many years did it take for some of the more successful FLOSS projects to ‘mature’? The fact is there is running software out there successfully implanted in a fast growing segment of libraries.

Second, many of these developers are straight from the library community and the developer orientation – to the extent that you can imply it’s a dominating community feature  – is and was needed due to the limited leadership and vision coming out of the library land to make sensible technology investment decisions. Without them, you can’t build something from nothing, and that libraries are somehow divorced from this process is ludicrous. You just couldn’t have had the success that projects like Koha, Evergreen and others have achieved without the focus being on  “libraries that use the software.”

In fact, it’s overwhelmingly the case that library involvement and control is one of the key business drivers for the selection of a FL/OSS system.

On the foundation proposal — a brash opportunistic plug for the OLE approach — this is nothing new (the open letter was posted before any of the dust settled – LOL). Foundation support has been discussed in the community for years but there’s effort and organization involved and no shortage of other high priority developments that need to be addressed.  So recent events have Liblime re-examining Foundation development, and other Koha community memberships are looking at options too. But not much interest expressed in the OLE model and further, a very challenging thing to pull off any way you take it.  Foundation support also won’t address the immediate concerns about Liblime’s direction etc.

The periodic ‘spasms’, tweaks in vendors’ business models, blowout discussions about forks, and so on – all of that is important, expected, and part of the terrain to be negotiated.   There should be no surprises here, and I’m glad to see that at least it’s out in the open for all to see and assess…