Isn’t Evergreen just for consortia with hundreds of libraries?

We get this question often at Equinox Software and we see it on occasion on the Evergreen community mailing lists and in the library blogosphere.

I am a single-branch public library with about 25,000 titles. I’ve looked at the options and I really like Evergreen. But isn’t it simply ‘too big’ for my situation?

It is true Evergreen was built from the ground up to handle the largest of library systems: it’s highly scalable, fault-tolerant (meaning it can sustain hardware failures and keep running), and has capabilities that make it a perfect selection for large libraries and consortia. Those attributes/goals are clearly stated on the open-ils community website.

However, it is important to realize this does not mean Evergreen is not a good solution for smaller libraries as well. Evergreen does in fact “scale down” elegantly. We know this because there are developers in our community that run Evergreen on their laptops. That’s right folks–they can run the entire server-side software stack on their laptops. Another example: Bill Erickson, at the last code4lib conference, ran an “Evergreen install in 20 minutes” breakout session in which Evergreen was installed on a laptop.

Evergreen was designed to be able to scale to multiple servers of varying sizes and purposes. But it can also scale to a single server (or laptop) if that’s what the library desires and what makes sense in the cost-to-uptime ratio.

Also, the ability for Evergreen to “scale down” from a functional standpoint is something that’s apparent in Kent County Library’s recent migration announcement. Kent County Library serves a population of approximately 19,500 though a main library and 2 smaller branches. There is more information about the decision to go with Evergreen on the Kent County Library blog.

I hope this information puts the rumor to rest that Evergreen is just for big libraries and consortia. The fact is Evergreen can work quite well in smaller situations.