This article appears in the April 2011 issue of Smart Libraries Newsletter. To read more from Marshall Breeding on mobile library technology and other facets of the library automation industry, you can purchase this issue or subscribe to Smart Libraries Newsletter at our metapress site.
The movement toward open source library automation continues. Recent months have seen many announcements of libraries selecting both Koha and Evergreen to replace proprietary systems. Keeping in mind that proprietary ILS products continue to dominate, both in new selections and in the overall base of installed systems, open source library automation has gained a strong footing in the industry and has become a routine option for most types of libraries.
Evergreen expands internationally
The open source Evergreen ILS, initially developed by the Georgia Public Library System for the PINES consortium, has been adopted by a number of additional consortia and libraries within the United States and Canada. In addition to Georgia PINES, Evergreen has been selected by several other consortia in North America, including:
- British Columbia SITKA (69 libraries, including branches)
- Indiana Evergreen (112 libraries)
- Merrimack Valley (Massachusetts, 39 libraries, in implementation process)
- Maine Balsom (10 libraries)
- Niagara Libraries (Ontario, 11 libraries),
- North Texas Library Partners (rural area outside Dallas, 12 libraries),
- Pioneer Library System (Upstate New York between Rochester and Syracuse, 42 libraries),
- Sage Library System (Northeast Oregon, 60 libraries)
- SC LENDS (South Carolina, 49 libraries)
- SPRUCE (Manitoba, Canada, 8 libraries)
In addition to these consortia, Evergreen has been implemented by a number of individual libraries or library systems, most notably the King County Library System, a very large suburban library system in the Seattle area with 46 branches and an annual circulation of over 19 million transactions.
On the domestic front, Evergreen implementations continue to expand. Four additional library systems joined SC LENDS, including the multi-county Allendale-Hampton-Jasper Regional Library System, as well as the public libraries in Colleton, Kershaw, and Williamsburg counties. Equinox Software provides hosting and support services for SC LENDS. The Lummi Library, which serves the 1,254 students of Northwest Indian College in Whatcom, Washington, recently migrated from Athena to Evergreen with support from Equinox.
Additional US Evergreen migrations are in the works. The Massachusetts Library Network Cooperative (MassLNC), for example, plans an implementation of Evergreen that will support three consortia currently operating proprietary systems, including the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium of 35 libraries currently running SirsiDynix Horizon, Central/Western Massachusetts Automation Resource sharing with 155 libraries using Millennium, and the 28 libraries of the North of Boston Library Exchange. This project anticipates a phased implementation with MVLC going live in May 2011 with the other two consortia coming online later in 2011 or 2012. MassLNC issued a Request for Proposal on March 1, 2011 for the development enhancements to Evergreen in circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, label printing, and online catalog. (See http://masslnc.cwmars.org/)
While Equinox Software, including personnel involved with the initial development of Evergreen, ranks as the dominant commercial firm providing support services for this open source ILS, it now competes with other organizations.
ByWater Solutions makes gains with Koha
ByWater Solutions, a firm specializing in the support of Koha was founded in April 2009. The company has seen a rapid expansion in its client libraries since then. ByWater has attracted new libraries moving from proprietary systems as well as those already using Koha and shifting support services from other vendors. In February 2011 the MassCat catalog of the 70 libraries of the Massachusetts Library System announced it had selected ByWater as its new hosting and support vendor. MassCat had been a client of LibLime since 2008. The 33 libraries of the Northeast Kansas Library System shifted their shared Koha system from LibLime to ByWater Solutions in February 2011. Several smaller libraries have selected Koha with support from ByWater so far in 2011, including the Freeport Community Library, moving from InfoCentre; The Brandon Regional Health Authority in Manitoba, Canada, previously using MicroCat; the Macon County Library in Missouri, migrating from SirsiDynix Unicorn; and the Del Norte County Library in California, moving from Library.Solution.
LibLime, now a division of PTFS, also reported several new clients in 2011. Including the Mabee Library at Sterling College in Arkansas, migrating from Horizon, The George School in Newton, PA, which selected Koha with support from LibLime to replace a Winnebago ILS; the Rotunda Libraries, which are a set of departmental libraries at Simon Fraser University; and the Trillium Lakelands School District in Ontario, migrating from individual Circulation Plus and Winnebago systems.
Evergreen expands to Europe
Evergreen recently gained its first foothold outside the United States. The councils of Stirling and Dunbartonshire have formed a new consortium and have selected Evergreen through an official tender process. These two independent library authorities in Scotland, north of Glasgow, entered in to a partnership to form a new consortium to share an ILS rather than to each implement separate systems. Both the Stirling Public Libraries and The East Dunbartonshire Libraries are currently operating SirsiDynix Horizon systems. Together, the two library organizations serve a combined population of almost 200,000. PTFS Europe will provide hosting and support for the new consortium.
This selection represents forward momentum for Evergreen. It is an expansion into Europe for this open source ILS. In broad terms, Europe has not seen the same level of activity in open source library automation systems as North America. With the exception of some pilot projects, mentioned below, Evergreen has not previously expanded beyond the United States and Canada. The ability for Evergreen to pass the rigors of an official tender process in the UK may carry even more significance. Procurements by library authorities in the UK must abide by rules that ensure a fair competitive process. The winning response to the tender was submitted by PTFS Europe, which will host the consortium’s implementation of Evergreen in its data center in Maidenhead, near London.
Koha in France
France is another front on the open source ILS arena in Europe worth noting. Primarily through the efforts of a French firm called BibLibre, over a hundred both academic and public libraries have implemented the open source Koha ILS. The company reports it works with about 63 libraries including a total of 230 individual branches. BibLibre co-founder Paul Poulain was one of the earliest Koha developers outside of New Zealand. BibLibre has been one of the key firms contributing to the development of Koha and has collaborated with other firms including ByWater Solutions in the United States and Catalyst IT in New Zealand. BibLibre announced in Feb 2011 that it will provide financial support for the current Koha release manager, employed by Catalyst IT. In Sept 2009 BibLibre partnered with ByWater Solutions to contribute to the support of the documentation specialist for Koha. (see http://www.biblibre.com)
EIFL promotes Open Source ILS in Developing Nations
In the developing world, a non-profit organization called EIFL has sponsored pilot projects involving both Evergreen and Koha. As part of its general mission of “enabling access to knowledge for education, learning, research and for sustainable livelihoods” EIFL is also involved in licensing content, advocating library-friendly copyright laws, and promoting open access. In support of open source software, EIFL conducts workshops, develops documentation, and develops case studies based on pilot projects. Open source software promoted by the EIFL OSS program include utilities to support persons with disabilities, integrated library systems including Koha and Evergreen, the Greenstone digital asset management system, and information management tools such as J-ISIS.
EIFL-OSS has facilitated pilot projects and case studies for Evergreen in Nepal, Zimbabwe, and Armenia. The Fundamental Scientific Library of the National Academy of Sciences of Armenia, a consortium of about 30 libraries currently using an Aleph system has been involved in a pilot project to migrate to Evergreen. According to the project coordinator, a union catalog representing the collections has been successfully implemented, but the individual libraries have not yet moved from Aleph to Evergreen. EIFL-OSS pilot projects involving Koha have taken place at the National Scientific Library in the country of Georgia, at Mzuzu University in Malawi, and the University of Bamako in Mali. (See http://www.eifl.net/foss)