[OPEN-ILS-GENERAL] Introduction (Re: 226 subscribers) and Some Questions

Karen Collier kcollier at kent.lib.md.us
Wed Mar 28 14:40:53 EDT 2007

I've enjoyed reading about the backgrounds of all the other people on this list who've responded before me.  Now, I guess it's time to introduce myself.

I am Public Services Librarian for a small rural library in Maryland.  We have been running Horizon, and since the cancellation of the latest Horizon, our director is looking seriously at other options, including Evergreen.

Our cataloger, myself, and a computer programmer/network admin/tech guy from a consortium we belong to have been given the task of testing Evergreen out to see if a switch would be possible for us, what with our limited resources and staff.

Because we don't currently use the acquisitions module of Horizon, I haven't yet found any definite barriers.  

I absolutely love the user interface for the OPAC, particularly the option to group editions of a title, and the sidebar with related subjects, as well as the spellchecking of search terms.  These are qualities that I think put Evergreen head and shoulders above the commercial competition.  Not to mention the expandability to consortia and distibutability (is that a word?) of the hardware to use bandwidth most efficiently.  Kudos to everyone involved in the development.  This is already an amazing accomplishment.

We are currently in the process of installing Evergreen on a server to play with it.  Our tech guy is using the documentation at http://www.open-ils.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=server_installation on server installation, but is having some difficulty following the documentation, because it appears to be incomplete in a number of places.  Is there any further documentation elsewhere, or are there people actively involved in updating this documentation?  I would be more than happy to help with writing up documentation... if I knew how it worked and what needed to be said in the documentation...

As far as my background, I was a computer science major for my first year of undergrad, until I (misguidedly?) switched to a major in biology and minor in English, so I have some background in programming C++, which I've also applied more recently to some programming in PHP.  I also do a lot of Web design with HTML/CSS for myself and my library.  I am a huge fan of open source in general, and have dabbled in using linux on other people's computers, though I haven't had the guts yet to actually make the switch myself.

I received my Master's in Library Science a year ago, and have worked as a librarian for two years, doing Reference, web design, teaching computer classes for the public, and doing a little bit of just about everything (as I said before, it's a small library system).

For a long while, I've complained with my co-workers about how bad our current ILS is and how few alternative options there are out there, and joked that someday I was going to learn what I needed to learn to write my own ILS and do it right... apparently, someone else beat me to it.  :)

So now, I'm wondering, how can I help with this project?  Can I help with documentation?  With programming?  If not with programming yet (and I imagine not as I'm sure there are lots of other programmers far more qualified than myself), what languages, etc, do I need to learn to be more help with that?  And how would you suggest going about learning these things?

I also have a few questions, and maybe some of the others on the list can help answer them?

In the process of migrating from Horizon to Evergreen, is there likely to be a loss of any data, like statistics on circulation etc, that we might need in the future?  This is probably our primary concern in evaluating whether or not to switch to Evergreen, particularly since it is so new and may not have all its features fully implemented yet.

Out of curiousity, is the staff client intended only for windows or can it also run on linux or Macintosh?

One last question.  We spoke with a library consultant about whether to switch to Evergreen or not.  She advised us to wait a few years until other libraries with more programming and technical staff made the switch and Evergreen became more mature.  Do you think this is good advice, or is the water warm to dive right in?  I know my director is eager to switch to something other than Horizon as quickly as possible.

Thank you,
Karen Collier
Kent County Public Library

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