What do you do when you are not happy with the existing softwares out there? You write your own, and if you open source it you open it to the widest possible talent pool. This is how Evergreen was born. Not satisfied with the available library management systems, Georgia Public Library Service developed Evergreen – an open source, enterprise-class Integrated Library System (ILS) that was built for large-scale.
Evergreen uses open protocols and runs on Apache and has a messaging functionality based on Jabber. It also has a client-side software that uses Mozilla’s XUL. From what I read, this client is something that the library staff will use. I prefer this model most of the times, where there is a desktop client for administration. Administration activities are usually intensive, a desktop client can perform better than a web version. Secondly, a lot of times administrators do not need to access everything from everywhere, and then the desktop client is suitable. Of course, there is no alternative to a web version for mobile administrators.
If you want to look at the numbers
Evergreen powers the GPLS’ network of libraries, PINES (Public Information Network for Electronic Services), consisting of 44 different public library systems in 123 counties covering almost the entire state of Georgia — 252 member libraries in all. The system has 8.8 million items in its index and 1.6 million active cardholders. In fiscal year 2006, there were almost half a million loans made between its libraries.
It is often good to see non-software people being clear about the benefits of open source. The library is pretty clear about why they open sourced Evergreen. Evergreen can also be a good example of taking decision to create a new software when the existing ones are just not enough. Get more information about it on their blog and documentation wiki. So, if you need a library management system from now, remind yourself that there is an off-the-shelf tool available.