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. 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.

3. How is Evergreen different from the competition?

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.

Openness / Longevity

One advantage of Evergreen is that it is free and open source software. It is continuously evolving to meet the needs of its users without the indirection and whims of “market forces”. Since the software effectively belongs to everyone, anyone can in theory improve and support it. You’re not vendor-locked with Evergreen, though you can certainly engage in commercial relationships with entities supporting it. No company mergers or dissolutions will ever cause Evergreen to be “discontinued”.

Scalability / Designed to handle complexity

Evergreen is a complicated piece of software, but that complexity allows it to handle and mask complexity in turn. It was originally designed for PINES which, by some measures, is one of the largest public library consortia. Libraries can be expressed in a tree-like hierarchy, where policy and other information can be defined at specific systems, branches, departments, etc. and inherited by descendants in the hierarchy. Certain functionality also allows you to arbitrarily group units and other entities outside of that hierarchy. Hierarchies and inheritance also play a role with permissions.

Evergreen can scale to meet the needs of load and performance, and is built with a service-oriented architecture that can be configured in clusters. It supported “cloud computing” before that became a buzz word.

Evergreen can also “scale down” (in terms of library complexity). There are many small and single branch libraries using it.

It also supports different types of libraries: public, academic, research, K-12, special, corporate, music, church, personal, etc.

4. 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, 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

Installing and Configuring Evergreen

5. 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.

6. How do I configure Evergreen?

There is a good section on this in the documentation, under System Configuration and Customization. There is also a book called Evergreen in Action, which, though dated, is a different take on some of the same information and may be useful. Most things like circulation and hold request policy and organization hierarchy can be configured through staff interfaces, though there is some functionality that can only be configured directly in the database or through configuration files (these settings don’t change often), and org hierarchy changes do require that a server-side script (/openils/bin/ be ran to update some files.


7. What font was used for the Evergreen logo?

The typeface used in the logo is called Skia, and the logo is all caps. Note, however, that the four E’s are hand-drawn, based on Skia but with the middle extenders separated from the body. The E’s don’t have that separation in the typeface itself.