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Evergreen ILS was begun by the Georgia Public Library System in 2006 so that a library catalog could be shared by a consortium of over 270 libraries (the Public Information Network for Electronic Services or PINES) all over the state. It was built to provide scalability for large systems and has been adopted by libraries across the US, Canada, and the rest of the world. In 2007, Evergreen formed a commercial company called Equinox Software to provide support for migration and development. Some of Evergreen's main features include circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, and online public access catalogs (OPACs).


Evergreen's circulation features are customizable, allowing libraries to give privileges based on the library, patron, item, and bibliographic information. Major notable circulation features include the ability to send patrons courtesy notices of due items; to access all relevant patron information in a single window; to define arbitrary fields when entering patron information; to create an unlimited number of notes about a patron; to replace patrons' cards without needing to re-register or clone them; to link patron accounts into family groups; to circulate non-cataloged and pre-cataloged materials; to customize template-based receipt printing; to continue circulation when Internet access is down; to give front-desk staff access to billing and financial information; to show patrons their accrued late fines in real time; and to allow patrons to pay their fines in whole or in part.

Evergreen's cataloging features are useful in that they allow libraries to include any relevant information regardless of the level of the organization hierarchy. Major notable cataloging features include the ability to create unlimited notes; to group and share related items in "buckets"; to compare MARC records side-by-side before merging; to enter information about volumes and copies at one time and thus avoid errors among branches; to move volumes and copies across records; to print customized labels; to search and retrieve bibliographic information from third-party sources; to validate MARC records; and to monitor cataloging activities through RSS feeds.

One of the major reasons why Evergreen is favored by consortium or multi-branch libraries is that each library can set their own rules and policies within the system, such as length of material check out.  This functionality allows each member library to maintain their individual preferences and makes it easier for multiple libraries to share an ILS.


Evergreen's OPAC is known for its clean interface and effective relevance ranking. Major notable OPAC features include sidebars for related subjects, authors, and series; integration with web browsers and search engines; support for cover images and book reviews; "bookbags" that allow patrons and librarians to share lists of books; metarecords that group different formats and editions together; and a user-friendly patron account feature.

Evergreen also offers a variety of statistical reporting features to construct databases and reports.

Features in serials are currently under development.  Acquisitions became available with latest version.

Evergreen uses a variety of languages, including Perl, PostgreSQL, C, JavaScript, XHTML, Mozilla XUL, and Python. It supports the metadata standards MARC 21, Atom Syndication Format, CSDGM, MODS, Dublin Core, and RSS 2.0.

Evergreen's architecture was built to provide easy scalability for consortia by offering high indexing and transaction capacity, a flexible organization hierarchy, permission systems for groups and users, and the elimination of unnecessary information.

The overall cost of migrating to, implementing, and maintaining Evergreen depends on the size of the library. For a library of between 25,000 and 50,000 items and between 1,000 and 10,000 patrons, the initial cost may be around $1,000, with the annual cost being around $1,500. This can save libraries around $10,000 as compared to proprietary ILS. See this dissertation for additional information.

Next: Migration Process

Evergreen Migration Process

plansAccording to the Evergreen community documentation, migrating data involves migrating bibliographic records, adding copies to bibliographic records, migrating patron data, restoring your Evergreen database to an empty state, exporting bibliographic records into MARC files, and importing authority records.

There are two main ways to install, maintain, and migrate to Evergreen: internally or contract with a vendor. Internally, follow the instructions available on the community's wiki while remaining in close contact with the community about questions. You can contract with a vendor to do any or all of the following: install the software, migrate data, train staff members, provide updates, offer support services, and even host the software.

Although the staff client can run on Windows, Macintosh, or Linux, the server requires Windows via a Unix-guest OS.

Consider consulting case studies about other libraries' process of migrating to Evergreen, including the Electronic Information for Libraries page.

Best Practices for Migration
  • Spot check data (during testing, migration, and after migration).  Catching problems early means less work trying to fix problems later.
  • Write workflows and policies/rules beforehand.  Writing these during your work on a test site should provide step by step instructions on how to do the final migration.
  • If working with a vendor, regular communication is important.  Having regular meetings ensures that  everyone stays on the same page and prevents miscommunications that will slow down the process.  Having one person as liaison between the library and the vendor will ensure a clear chain of communication.
  • If members of the consortium are coming from multiple ILS, having a vendor will make it easier.  This doesn't mean that you can't do it on your own, but migrating from System A is going to be different than migration from System B.  This increase in complexity could make working with a vendor more cost effective.

Evergreen Evaluation

Question: Who should chose Evergreen?                                                                  

Answer: Consortiums and large multi-branch libraries

Creating a necessary features list:

  • Have each department (Circulation, Acquisitions, Cataloguing) contribute. 
  • Compare this to the current version of Evergreen.
  • If Evergreen doesn't include everything on list then you have three options: 1) wait until it comes available, 2) decide that you can live without it and migrate anyway, or 3) develop it working with a vendor, in partnership with another library or by yourselves.  

Migration Team (the people who will actually carry out the migration):  Things to keep in mind.

  • Enthusiasm and ability to learn the technology are the most important requirements for team members.
  • If you have people with the technical skills include them (or at least ensure that the team members can consult with them).
  • If working with vendor designate a liaison between the migration team and vendor.
Best Practices for Evaluation
  • Make a list of requirements and don't migrate until they are all there.
  • Know your staff's abilities before committing.
  • Talk to other libraries.
  • Include as many people as you can in the decision to move to open source.

Evergreen Demo Sites

Uses of Demo Sites:

  • In evaluation
  • Data mapping (see Data Preparation)
  • Testing and determing which setup is best (rules, policies, settings, etc.)
  • Staff training
  • Creating workflow documentation
  • Test run of migration

The Evergreen Project lists a few demo sites to try: http://open-ils.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=community_servers

Evergreen Data Preparation

Data Mapping

Unless you are automating a library for the first time, you will have data from an existing system that will need to be moved to the new Evergreen installation.  Managing the data preparation process is key to a successful migration. Data "mapping", often used interchangably with data prep, is ensuring that the data fields between the two systems match up properly.  In Evergreen you will use staging tables to data map.

The best way to data map is to have a demonstration site.  This will allow the migration team to practice migrating, to set rules/polices, create workflows, and generally learn the system.  

Data Clean Up

Not everyone enters data the same way and over time the standards and policies of how to input data change.  Migrating to a new system is an opportunity to clean up data and start fresh.  The more consistent it is the more smoothly it will migrate.  In addition with a vendor you should weed both the collection and patron records.  Vendors charge by the record, so why pay for things you don't need?  

Best Practices for Data Preparation
  • Consider granting fine amnesty when migrating.  Sometimes it is very difficult to transfer fine data into a new ILS so an amnesty will make the process simpler.
  • Clean up data in advance.
  • Weeding - as part of your data clean up you should consider doing a weeding process on both materials and patron records.  
  • Consistency is key.  If multiple people are working on the data make sure they are working based on the same standards.

Evergreen Customization & Development

Evergreen offers many ways to customize the ILS to fit the needs of the user. These can be accomplished by library staff or with the assistance of a support vendor. Another option is to create modifications, customizations, and new features through development of the software. One of the greatest strengths of open source and a key to its appeal is the freedom to change the code to fit your situation. If you need a certain functionality, it is not necessary to wait until a vendor gets around to it since the source code is available.

Best Practices for Customization and Development
  • Before doing any customization make sure it hasn't or isn't in the process of being done.  The great thing about open source is that any development done by any library comes back to the community, so often if you want something done someone else does too.
  • Look for partnerships.  Usually others in the community want the same things as you.  The advantage in partnerships is the combination of resources be that monetary or staff skills.  
  • Consider grants as a funding option.

Evergreen Training

Although several vendors provide training, there are many resources available through the community that allow libraries to do training internally.  

Tutorials are useful to train both library staff and patrons on how to navigate and use newly implemented OSS ILS. There are many tutorial resources online in the form of videos, demos, image sequences, and other staff training materials.

For Evergreen, library staff might consult the Indiana State Library's staff training documents, which include numerous demos, and the PINES YouTube playlist of Evergreen tutorials. There are also many Evergreen tutorials available to help patrons become more familiar with navigating the catalog; the Pendleton Public Library has made resources of this nature available online.

Best Practices for Staff Training
  • Documentation is important.  The best way is to find what documentation is already available and then customize it for your system.
  • Usually a day or two of training is sufficient.  Since training covers circulation, cataloging and administration most staff members will only need to be there for their part of it.
  • Do training fairly close to Go Live date.  Two reasons for this: first is that if training is done close to the Go Live date then they can be trained on the actual system they will use.  Second, if training is done too early often people either don't take it seriously or forget what they learn before the Go Live date.
  • When training have specific tasks to do.  There are several ways to do this.  1) Do the specific tasks at the training.  2) Demonstrate the tasks at training and then give 'homework' where the staff does the specific tasks independently. 3) Have staff try the tasks on their own and use the training session for questions or problems they had.  For options 2 and 3, staff have to have access to a demo system.
  • If consortium or multi-branch library that is spread out geographically, use webinars and wikis to maintain training consistency.

Going live with Evergreen

Congratulations, you have made it to the last step!  

A couple of words of advice. 

  • If possible, keep your old ILS running for a couple of months just in case. 
  • Run tests to make sure that everything is working correctly.
  • If possible, you may want to close your library for a half-day or more to finalize staff training.
  • Expect some calls from patrons who are surprised by the new interface and need help adjusting.


Evergreen Technical Support

Concerns about the availability and quality of technical support are common.  ILS are critical to the function of libraries, and administrators must be confident that they can solve problems quickly when they occur. The good news is that technical support options for open source are generally just as good or better than that of proprietary systems.

  • Support vendors are available who will provide varying levels of support ranging from complete migration and maintenance to consulting about specific problems.
  • Community resources are also available in the form of mailing lists, wikis, IRC (Internet Relay Chat), and other sources.
  • The Evergreen community can provide documentation, training materials, and troubleshooting expertise backed up by personal experience.

Road to self sufficiency:  Many libraries start with a support vendor, then as their staff develops the necessary skills, they lessen their dependence on the vendor.

Evergreen Vendors

This list is maintained for informational purposes only and no endorsement of any support vendor is intended. A list of Evergreen support vendors is also maintained by the Evergreen Project. If you are a vendor and would like to be added to the list, please use our Contact Form. Other feedback about vendors can be left in our forums.

Evergreen Documentation

This is the official page of Evergreen documentation. It includes information about current supported versions (2.1 and 2.0), versions under development (2.2), and older versions (1.6). Each resource is available in HTML and PDF format. There is also a style guide for Evergreen contributors and a link to report errors. The documentation for the most current version in use (2.1) includes information about the following topics:

  • Public Access Catalog: This section describes the basic catalog, advanced search topics, patron account tools, and the development of custom guides and tutorials.
  • Core Staff Tasks: This section addresses topics such as using the staff client, circulation, acquisitions, cataloging, the booking module, and the serials module.
  • Administration: This section provides information about system requirements and hardware configurations, installing the Evergreen server, upgrading Evergreen to 2.1, server operations and maintenance, migrating data, and other administrative functions.
  • Reports: This section describes how to create and share reports, folders, and templates.
  • A detailed glossary concludes the documentation.

Evergreen Resources

There are many resources available on the web, and this page categorizes many of them below. Select the tab for the types of information you are interested in to see relevant links.

Evergreen Screencasts

The following screencasts document the process of installing Evergreen in Debian Linux:

OpenSRF Installation Screencasts

Evergreen Installation Screencasts

Evergreen Community

Evergreen has an active online community of developers, programmers, librarians, and others. The official Evergreen website has many suggestions for how to get in touch with this community:

  • Mailing lists on topics such as governance, documentation, task forces, development, and security.
  • Internet Relay Chat (IRC) channel #Evergreen for contributors, developers, and enthusiasts; you can pose new questions or browse the logs.
  • Google calendar listing meetings, reports, etc.
  • Official blog with updates on new releases, conferences, news announcements, and community information.
  • Community blogs that provide information on vendors, documentation, conferences, individual libraries using Evergreen, policies, tips, committees, etc

Evergreen Blogs

Evergreen Forums

Evergreen Social Media