Evergreen and Koha

I was surprised to see the jostling for attention between the two open source offerings for integrated library systems, Evergreen and Koha.

Evergreen is a system originally designed by the Georgia Public Library Service for the PINES Consortium (PINES stands for Public Information Network for Electronic Services). It has gathered a lot of attention in the academic community. Equinox Software is the software company founded by the team which created Evergreen. I thought it interesting that the two presenters in the Evergreen session were software developers, but they both obtained degrees in English Literature before moving on to computer science. Perhaps good library software needs people who love both books and computers.

But the original big name in open source library system software, Koha, has taken root in small communities in Ontario. My home town is Hanover, Ontario, and Hanover is the hub of the Saugeen Library Consortium. Hanover Public Library hosts a large server running VMWare, which means virtual servers are running separate instances of Koha for the regional small town libraries. Liblime is the software company that supports Koha. As with all open source software, there are no licensing fees for Koha. Liblime is also behind the cataloging productivity suite, #biblios.net. This service is like a bibliographic utility– the role that OCLC plays, at least as far as the co-operative cataloguing function.

Hanover Public Library had been a user of the library system Winnebago (later called "Spectrum"). It was bought by another library system company called Follett, and Follett subsequently dropped support for Spectrum. Follet’s primary market is school libraries. Hanover Public Library was forced to look at other options, and the Koha solution running in a virtualized server environment was an ideal fit.

Showcasing the new Koha catalogue, the presenters were eager to point out that these small town libraries now can take advantage of high end catalogue interface features such as faceted searching and FRBRized displays.

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