New Features Coming to Evergreen

It's rare that I get the urge to stand up and cheer in the middle of a library conference, but I certainly came close when I heard just one phrase at the Growing Evergreen 2010 International Conference: "true faceting." Faceting is one of several development ideas that have arisen in the meetings we've recently held with library staff. In fact, a number of upcoming Evergreen features are items that have been identified as development needs in these meetings. Most of these features will be part of Evergreen 2.0, slated for an alpha release in August. This release will incorporate much of the development sponsored by King County Library System in Washington, which is scheduled to go live with Evergreen on September 25. Below is some of the new development coming to Evergreen.

In the catalog:
Equinox has done a lot of work to improve the search. This work will result in the ability to truncate, conduct Boolean searches, offer alphabetical browses, and provide true faceting. Coming up in version 1.6.1.0, which will be released in May, is also a user self-service password reset. Dan Scott of Laurentian University provided a preview of this feature Friday morning. The user simply needs to enter their barcode number or user name, and the system will send an e-mail to allow them to reset their password. Of course, the user must have a valid e-mail address in their record for this feature to work. Plans are already underway to make this function more robust, including a requirement for the user to also enter their correct e-mail address (as further verification of their identity) and an option for a library to turn this feature off.

Materials booking:

Library staff from Mohawk College demonstrated materials booking, which will be coming to Evergreen in May. At this time, this development is only available on the staff side of Evergreen. Booking allows staff to reserve materials or other items for a particular date. It also includes the ability to write a report of all materials booked. The report's display is currently tabular, but Mohawk College hopes to also create a calendar view.

Holds:

During the holds roundtable on Wednesday, Grace Dunbar from Equinox mentioned that King County has funded some development that will bring some Netflix-style features to the holds queue. There weren't many specifics about this feature, but it will be interesting to see how it works. Dunbar also floated the idea of using a holds ratio for the system to determine if an item should only be available to fill local holds or if it can fill outside holds as well. The idea of using a holds ratio was part of an overall discussion of improving holds in Evergreen.

Circulation client:

Matt Carlson from King County and Bill Erickson from Equinox also demonstrated screen shots of the new circ client that will be part of Evergreen 2.0. The system has basically streamlined circulation functions. One nice feature in patron registration is that the system will autopopulate the city and state fields based on the zip code that is entered. There will also be credit card support for payment using PayPal or authorize.net. In addition, a staff activity client log will hold a configurable number of transactions so that you can easily refer back to a recent transaction. There is no undo ability with this log, but easily viewing this recent history can help you retrace your steps.

Acquisitions:

A fully functional acquisitions module will be available in Evergreen 2.0. Bill Erickson of Equinox provided a partial tour of what will be available in the module; there just wasn't enough time to cover all of acquisitions. Nicole Engard wrote a good overview of the presentation on her What I Learned Today... blog. There was no mention of a feature we've discussed in our acquisitions group: automatic orders based on system activity. However, there was functionality to easily create an order from a patron purchase request.

Serials:

A serials module is also coming along, although it isn't as fully developed as acquisitions. Dan Wells of Hekman Library, Calvin College, provided an overview of the work that has been done thus far. He divded Serials into three areas: metadata, where the serial record lives; physical, where the individual issues and shelving locations live; and business, where the serial subscription information lives. Developers have essentially done the work for the metadata and physical layers, but have been waiting for the acquisitions development to integrate it with the business layer. The full Serials work is scheduled to be done in time for the release of Evergreen 2.0. Read more about the Serials presentation on the ByWater Solutions blog.

A Moving Target:

Seeing all of this development work at the conference was a reminder that Evergreen is a moving target as we evaluate our own development requirements in Massachusetts. Not only will we need to evaluate the current software when identifying development needs, but we'll also need to stay abreast of all the development other systems are working on. It's wonderful to see how the community is contributing to this system and making it better for all libraries using it.