Frequently Anticipated Questions

About Evergreen

1. What is Evergreen?

Evergreen is software that helps library patrons find library materials, and helps libraries manage, catalog, and circulate those materials, no matter how large or complex the libraries.

Evergreen is also people: a community of users, developers, and enthusiasts that work together to maintain, develop, and improve the software. Here is a list of libraries known to use Evergreen, and a list of people known to congregate online and help with the project. There are also specific committees and interest groups revolving around Evergreen.

See the About Us page.

2. What types of libraries use Evergreen?

While Evergreen was designed for a large consortium but is also implemented in single libraries.  It is currently used by public, academic, special and government libraries covering a variety of use cases.  Evergreen’s configuration allows for libraries with very flat structures (a single building) to complicated multi-system, multi-branch with sub branch organizations.

Because Evergreen can be used on one or more server “bricks” it means you can run a small library on a single brick or install more to support larger organizations. This also allows for the growth of libraries – the larger you get you can just add more bricks.

3. What does it mean when we say Evergreen is Open Source?

Open source software is a term used for licenses that allow for copyright holders to allow their creations to be free to download, free to use, free to view, and free to adapt and improve. Evergreen is released under the GPL (GNU Public License) v2 and many of the documents associated with it are released under Creative Commons licenses. Community members are encouraged to give back to the community the benefits of their work if they build on top of Evergreen.  In the most simple terms, it means that Evergeen is owned by all the people that created it and no one can take away your right to use and build on top of it.

4. Where can I get help with Evergreen, have questions answered, etc.?

From community volunteers on the public mailing list or via real-time chat, or with paid support to one or more of several companies and organizations that support Evergreen. And, of course, there is this website, the mailing list archives, and the official documentation. We also have a yearly conference where the community gets together. You may also check out our public demo servers.

5. How is Evergreen different from other ILSes?

All software has strengths and weaknesses, and for non-trivial software there is no such thing as being “feature complete”. Every library automation system (also referred to as an ILS or LMS) has a set of features that is either aligned with the needs of the people actually using the software or not, and comparing lists of such features may be comparing apples and oranges while calling both bananas. It’s more important to see how the software works in practice for your use cases.

6. So I’m already familiar with ILS and library jargon. What standards and “modules” does Evergreen support?

Evergreen supports these functional areas: OPAC (with user services), structured web data compliant with standards, circulation, self-check, self-registration, cataloging, link resolving, authorities, integrated SIP2 server,  Z39.50 (search and retrieval), booking, course reserves, serials, acquisitions, reporting, “added” content (Chillifresh, Content Cafe, Novelist,, OpenLibrary, Syndetics).

Evergreen supports these standards and technologies: EDI, LDAP, MARC21, MFHD, OpenSearch, OpenURL, RDA, RSS, unAPI, Unicode, WCAG

Evergreen stores bibliographic, authority and serial records in MARC 21 formats for each with serials holdings in MFHDs.  Evergreen can output each of these in those formats as well as Atom Syndication Format, Dublin Core, CSDGM, MODS, Dublin Core and RSS 2.0.

The report builder enables point-and-click access to all fields in the database for constructing reports. Because both the database and the data schema are open source, there are no licensing fees for direct SQL access to the database.  The business logic of Evergreen is written primarily in Perl and PostgreSQL, with a few optimized sections rewritten in C. The catalog interface is primarily JavaScript with XHTML. The staff client is written in Angular.

7. How do I install Evergreen?

Evergreen has a server component that in practice needs to be installed on a Linux server (preferably Debian or Ubuntu). Installation is not turn-key and is best done by someone familiar with compiling programs (using configure and make) and editing text files in a Linux environment. There are commercial entities willing to do this for you and a volunteer community willing to help you do it yourself and improve the process based on your experience. Installation instructions are available on the Downloads page and also in the official documentation.

System requirements and multi-server configuration can be a complex topic that you may need to ask around about (see FAQ #2). For a single-server “test” system handling one or two concurrent users and 20k bibliographic records, a modern 2x2x5 server (2 cpu cores, 2 gigs of RAM, and 5 gigs of disk space) should be sufficient.

Once Evergreen is installed, patrons and staff members can access it through their Web browsers.  In addition, staff members can optionally use Hatch: a combination of an installed program and browser extension that allows Evergreen to communicate better with receipt, label, and other printers.

8.  Who created Evergreen?

In 2005, the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS) needed to migrate from an ILS that could not match their needs. GPLS approached other library software vendors, but every system evaluated, whether proprietary or open-source, fell short in one way or another, usually due to fundamental design issues.

A few of the vendors GPLS met with admitted that they couldn’t handle PINES’ requirements, and didn’t want to try.

GPLS decided that instead of pointing fingers at vendors or complaining about the limitations of legacy software, their developers would write the kind of system we want our users to experience. Since then, Evergreen has been expanded and redefined by a constantly growing community that still includes GA PINES among many others.