FAQs

What is an ILS?
It stands for Integrated Library System, the software that librarians use to manage acquisitions, build catalogs, check out materials, and keep track of library users.
 

Why choose an Open Source Software (OSS) ILS?
OSS refers to concept of "free" software developed by a community of interested users who share that software with each other. ILS have traditionally been expensive, complicated systems owned by proprietary companies that charge a fee to libraries for use and maintenance.
 

What OSS ILS options are available?
Although there are many OSS ILS that have been developed in many countries and for many types of libraries, the most common choices in the U.S. are Evergreen and Koha. Evergreen is usually chosen for larger consortia, whereas Koha is used in smaller school and special libraries.
 

Are OSS ILS really mature enough systems?
Some OSS ILS have been being developed for over a decade, and most of them offer the ILS modules vital for library service (circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, etc.). Many librarians using OSS ILS characterize them as ready for "primetime" or "going live."
 

How much technical expertise do I need to implement an OSS ILS?
Technical expertise is definitely helpful when migrating to and maintaining an OSS ILS. While there is a community and documentation to support you in solving technical problems, there is no proprietary vendor present to "fix" bugs for you. However, if you work at a small library without a technical staff, you can consider hiring a vendor to provide support for your OSS ILS. Equinox, LibLime, and ByWater Solutions are some of the most frequently used support vendors in the U.S.
 

What are the system requirements for OSS ILS?
The system requirements for OSS ILS vary by individual system. The main requirements for Evergreen are available on its documentation page. This Slideshare presentation provides information about the hardware and software requirements for Koha.
 

Who develops OSS ILS?
OSS ILS are developed by a community of the most technically skilled programmers and developers who create new modules and fix reported bugs.
 

How does open source fit with the mission of libraries?
Libraries have always been very engaged in issues like free access to information. In today's digital world, the issue of access has evolved to include such topics as the digital divide, open access journals, and open source software. Many librarians using OSS ILS say they believe in the vision and community open source creates and sustains.
 

Which OSS ILS is best for my library?
Generally if you are a small library go with Koha, if you are in a consortium go with Evergreen.  For more on this decision look at the following pages:  ILS Evaluation, Evergreen Evaluation, and Evaluation
 

What are the requirements for setting up a demo site?
Demo installations of Evergreen or Koha can be set up on a moderately powered PC running Linux. It's possible to get working installations up and running in a few hours.