Libraries growing together

BC Pines now has two libraries, Prince Rupert Library and Fort Nelson Public Library, running on a production instance of Evergreen, with another on the way early next year. Potentially, it could grow in scope into a consortium comparable in size to Georgia’s PINES program.

It is often said that Evergreen is designed for large consortia, and that’s true enough, but another way of stating it is to say that Evergreen is designed to connect libraries, and you really don’t need to emphasize “large” there.

The Public Library Services Branch of British Columbia has a vision, one of “libraries without walls”, which will facilitate equitable access to information, encourage collaboration and partnerships to improve delivery of services, and initiate governance reform. Initiatives such as BC OneCard (one library card for the whole province) and AskAway (a province-wide virtual reference service), have proven tremendously popular, and if PINES is any example, a shared ILS connecting libraries should likewise benefit patrons and librarians.

With a shared ILS, patrons gain increased access to library resources. Libraries benefit from economies of scale, and if the shared ILS is an open-source system like Evergreen, they get to decide on development priorities, and have insurance against an uncertain vendor market.

Evergreen can help you grow large consortia, but to use half a metaphor, that doesn’t diminish our focus on the trees. Like BC Pines says, it’s about “Libraries growing together”.

— Jason