George Duimovich on the Evergreen conference and other topics

George Duimovich We recently spoke to George Duimovich about what he hopes to get out of the Evergreen International Conference (May 20-22, Athens, Georgia) and about his thoughts about open source in general. (Note: George is at Natural Resources Canada, which recently signed a contract with Equinox Software for Evergreen development, but his comments are his own, not NRCan’s.)

(Also see the Evergreen conference wiki for programs, keynotes, and other conference events.)

About the conference, George said,”This conference will be a major milestone for the Evergreen community and one for the history books I’m sure!” He added, “I think the conference is going to be an essential opportunity to talk about the present and future status of the Evergreen project, but also to further establish personal contacts and awareness of the user and developer communities. ”

About Evergreen’s advantages: “What many libraries want is to hit that ‘sweet spot’ between the classic turn-key solution as well as having unrestricted developer-oriented possibilities when required. We view Evergreen as being the best-positioned to offer the better of both worlds, and ultimately, we anticipate that our staff and patrons will be best served by a system that we can better control, influence and support.”

About he benefits of participating in an open source community: “[This] has helped us to reach out to other libraries doing interesting and dynamic work. Our interest in collaborative technology at NRCan is more about supporting people working together than it is about the technology, and the open source model is one of several effective ways to achieve this. We also like the fact that Evergreen has an established and growing presence among Canadian academic and public libraries. For example, we were able to work with Laurentian University on contributing to the French language edition of Evergreen, and the results are now shared at no cost with the global Evergreen community.”

George added, “It’s also been incredibly refreshing to work with an ILS that from the get-go allows us to work with independent, local IT suppliers, allowing for a broader and more competitive network of service providers to rely on.”

Evergreen’s future: “One of the positives about moving to Evergreen is that you don’t have to be worried as much about the future of your ILS. Realistically, there are going to be concerns no matter what ILS you chose, but consider a practical example. One of the hottest and mosting interesting trends in library systems is the decoupling of your online catalog from your ILS. Evergreen comes with a built-in indexing engine that is very good and getting better all the time; nevertheless, your library may have local requirements to explore other open source or proprietary discovery alternatives (e.g. vuFind, Blacklight, Endeca, BiblioCommons, etc.). Since many ILSs offer only restricted access or have weak API ‘hooks’ into your data, many libraries face the prospect of having to “gamble” up front on a bet with a single vendor to do it all. And if their vendor’s search engine strategy falters, you’re left with limited, often costly options to improve upon the situation.

“Since we want to keep as many doors open as possible, we’re able to sit more comfortably with the knowledge that our data is stored in a vendor-neutral repository – and already, we see the marketplace is advancing with connector drivers for both open source and proprietary search solutions that can work with Evergreen (e.g. vuFind & Endeca). This also meant that we didn’t have to determine in advance the ‘ultimate’ discovery solution for our users right now, when we’re more focussed on short term challenges such as completing our first migration.”

“In the short to medium term, we’re hoping to see some key gaps filled (serials control for example), and longer term, we’d like to see how the community exploits the powerful, underlying general platform upon which Evergreen is built (for example, as a possible platform for non-MARC-compliant datasources, etc.).”