December Executive Committee Report

On Friday, December 17th, the PINES Software Development staff conducted presentations on the Evergreen project at the PINES Executive Committee meeting in Dawsonville, Georgia. We covered widely varying areas of the software in these presentations. In this written report, I am going to glean some of the more interesting or important points from those presentations and also add a little additional in-depth information.

First, the software development project is on schedule and exactly where we had planned to be at this point. One significant factor that has allowed this is that the current PINES system and software has been more stable than normal, and this allows us to focus the vast majority of our efforts on software development, rather than patching up software (that we’re going to abandon in a couple of years, anyway).

We also distributed a draft schedule for future milestones in the development process. Here are the more important dates from that schedule:

  • July 1, 2005 — Alpha Release
  • February 1, 2006 — Beta Release
  • July 1, 2006 — Production Release
  • Fall, 2006 — PINES Conversion and Installation

Note that there are additional dates in the above time periods that are important for PINES libraries, and we will be distributing the full schedule to all PINES libraries early this week (the same full schedule that was distributed at the Executive Committee Meeting).

Mike Rylander presented a simple “command line OPAC” he has developed to test and work with searching the bibliographic database. He demonstrated a couple sample searches, and demonstrated the speed at which the searches executed and returned results– a typical database search takes about a half a second (or less), and formats and returns hits in a little over one second. We actually expect this search time to further decrease in the future.

Mike also talked a bit about what we are calling “meta-titles”. In Evergreen, we are going to group all the various formats, editions, and versions of a title under a single “meta-title”. In PINES, especially for classic works or more popular materials, we could literally have dozens of different formats and editions for a given title. This makes the typical bibliographic search display cumbersome and confusing for both patrons and staff. Grouping titles under meta-titles makes searching easier and more user friendly. So, for example, if you search for “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban”, you’ll get a single hit, and under that hit, it will enumerate all the different formats (book, audiobook, DVD) and editions (First American Edition, Special Book Club Edition) that PINES libraries own.

If you keep going down this logical path, you can also see that we could apply this same logic to holds. What if a patron just needs a copy of “Moby Dick” for a class project, and that patron doesn’t care if it’s large print or not? So, we could place holds on multiple titles contained in meta-titles, if appropriate. Any of the selected formats/editions would be eligible to fulfill the hold.

Jason Etheridge presented a MARC editing interface that he has been working on. The interface already enforces certain MARC rules such as disallowing repetition of non-repeatable tags and warning the cataloger if s/he inputs a tag that isn’t listed in the MARC rules. In its final form, the interface will also only allow valid subfields and indicators for each tag, will support context-sensitive right-click support, copy/paste, and many other “gee-whiz” functionalities. Jason also demonstrated how the MARC editing interface can easily hook into 3rd party software and websites, such as and Google.

Bill Erickson went over and explained each layer in the Evergreen unified messaging system. A graphic of this system can be found in our documentation area. While this isn’t exactly an exciting thing to talk about, a robust and secure communications layer is critical to operations.

I hope you have found this report informative and helpful. If there is anything you would like to see here in the future, please drop us a comment.