Evergreen at Three: Reflections and Memories

Evergreen Turns Three!

Happy 3rd Birthday, Evergreen!

Evergreen celebrated its third birthday on September 5, 2009. We are marking that anniversary with reflections from the community and, in a separate post, a special Evergreen Index.

Evergreen happened because visionary people believed that libraries deserved good software they could control — software in the public’s trust. Lamar Veatch, Georgia State Librarian, said, “Maybe I was naïve, but I felt like it was in good hands, and I had the confidence in those guys.”

One reason Georgia Public Library Service chose to develop Evergreen–and make it open source–was their frustration with the proprietary software marketplace. Lamar commented, “I felt like we didn’t have any other option. There was no other place to go but try this. Everyone was very excited about the concept of having control over the software, setting our own course, and not having to rely on whatever the commercial sector had available.”

(Also see this video of Lamar’s opening remarks from the 2009 Evergreen International Conference.)

Outside GPLS, some viewed the Evergreen project with skepticism. “I’m proud of taking a risk,” said Julie Walker, Deputy State Librarian for Georgia. “Librarians as a profession are not known for risky behavior, and I think a state library in particular may not be apt to take the road less traveled. Making that leap to try something out of the ordinary, not allowing the naysayers to slow us down, makes me proud to be a librarian from Georgia. I think every PINES library staff member in Georgia should take a moment to bask in the success that is Evergreen.”

Elizabeth McKinney, PINES Program Director, noted, “We never imagined the level of interest the library community would have in an open source project like Evergreen. The library community was watching and waiting for us to go live on Day 1. We have been contacted for information from libraries around the world. It far exceeds any of our expectations.”

David Singleton, former Deputy State Librarian for Georgia, added, “I remember thinking that we had done an amazing thing that would have a ripple effect in the library community for years to come. Many people thought we were crazy for trying to create an open source ILS. What they didn’t know, and I did, is that we had an exceptional team of people committed to the project.”

Evergreen was not just a flash in the pan, David continued. “When strong partners from British Columbia, the University of Windsor, Laurentian University, and others stepped forward, representing a broad spectrum of public, academic, and school libraries, I felt that Evergreen’s potential was limitless. That has continued as consortia and individual libraries have embraced Evergreen over the last few years.”

When asked about what he would like to see in Evergreen’s near future, David replied, “The creation of an Evergreen Foundation for the long-term support and development of the software has been a long-time goal and would be a major step forward.”

Andrea Buntz Neiman and Karen Collier of Kent County Public Library shared their birthday wishes: “As the smallest public library in Maryland, we have to be creative with our budget and our technology.  Once we learned about Evergreen we were thrilled that there was an ideal solution for us!   We have been live since June 2008 and couldn’t be happier.  Evergreen is a great system for public libraries, and open source shares many ideals and values with public libraries.  We are proud to be the first Evergreen public library in Maryland and look forward to celebrating many more Evergreen birthdays!”

You are invited to share more memories on this post!