Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Our Evergreen Success Story, Part I

In June 2008, we announced the migration of our library automation system to the open source ILS called Evergreen. The news appeared for our patrons in our online newsletter and for Maryland Librarians on page 7 of the Summer 2008 issue of The Crab, and as a press release by Equinox Software, but we neglected to mention here that the migration took place.

Now, almost 8 months post-migration, as I prepare to speak at the Computers in Libraries 2009 Conference in DC (Presentation E204 if you're going) I realize the omission. I blame maternity leave and a host of other circumstances... but that's neither here nor there. Without further ado....

Kent County Public library is now live on Evergreen and has been since the great (to us) migration of June 4, 2008. We set several target dates for the migration and performed some test migrations before we took the plunge, but we beat our deadline by nearly a month and had what I consider a smooth transition from Horizon to Evergreen. We haven't looked back.

Since we are a small public library (19,500 population served, 150,300 yearly circulation) with limited funds and limited in-house technology staffing, we elected to outsource the support and hosting of our Evergreen installation to Equinox Software the Evergreen experts. The migration was handled by Alpha-G Consulting.

Our reasons for choosing Evergreen in the first place have been outlined in detail in earlier posts, but in a nutshell, we liked the freedom, the features, and the price.

We liked the freedom and options that come with open source software. Specifically, we're not locked into a particular vendor for support, hosting, or enhancements. While we may never have to make use of this freedom, it's good to know it's there. And in case you're wondering, after 8 months live, we're still happy with Equinox Software, our chosen vendor. The support has been excellent, and the response time amazing.

We liked the features already existing in Evergreen, and those planned for future releases. When using Evergreen, it's evident that a lot of thought has been put into how the software can best accommodate the workflow of the librarian, instead of the librarian accommodating the workflow of the software. While we are a single library, and not a consortium, we liked the fact that Evergreen was designed to work well in a situation with multiple libraries sharing a database of items, but still retaining their independent governance and policies. Someday we might like to be involved in such a resource sharing consortium.

We also liked the price. Our chosen vendor worked with us to make Evergreen fit within our budget, and we wound up getting a lot of bang for our buck. Our situation aside, the very nature of the open source software market is more economically favorable to libraries than is the proprietary market. In the proprietary market, one vendor holds a monopoly over their own product, allowing them to set whatever price they choose, with fear of migration helping to retain customers. In stark contrast, in the open source market there is no licensing fee, and anyone can set up shop offering support, hosting, etc. for an open source software product, so the competition (or even the possibility of competition) among vendors for customers naturally acts to drive prices down to a fair market level.

Please stay tuned for more details on our migration process and our post-migration experiences.

Karen Collier
Public Services Librarian
Kent County Public Library

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