Committing to the Evergreen Catalog

As the participating networks in the Massachusetts Library Network Cooperative (MassLNC) have discussed development needs for Evergreen, one question that has been on the forefront is whether funds would be better spent developing Evergreen‘s public catalog or implementing another public catalog interface that already has all the features our libraries need.

The appeal of open-source software is we can advocate for and fund development if the software does not look or behave the way we believe it should.  At the same time, there are already many next-generation public catalogs available, such as VuFind, BiblioCommons, and SOPAC, that could be implemented without the need for much development.
At a recent meeting of the Open Source Project Task Force, staff from the participating MassLNC networks reached a consensus to commit to Evergreen’s native catalog. There were several reasons for reaching this decision.

A common interface for the public and staff

Many staff members in participating libraries have said they would like a public catalog search that is the same as the staff catalog search. When searching the staff catalog, they would like the returned results to match the same search results from the public catalog. When helping patrons and students, they would like to remain in the staff interface, showing users how they do a search, and know that the user will see the same interface when trying to use the catalog on their own. This feature is one of the strength’s of Evergreen’s native catalog. The public catalog search already matches the staff catalog search. 

One system to maintain and support

Maintaining and troubleshooting one system is easier than two systems. With two systems, if network staff encounters a problem with the catalog display, for example, it will take some time to determine if the source of the problem is Evergreen or the product used for the public catalog. By maintaining one system, network staff will only need to troubleshoot that one system when public catalog issues arise. 

Improvements are already on the way

MassLNC expects to see many promising developments for the public catalog before our libraries go live with Evergreen. King County Library System, which plans to go live with Evergreen in September 2010, has devoted some of its grant to improvements for the public catalog.
At the same time, we learned at the April 2010 Evergreen Users Group that developers are planning to release true faceting, Boolean searching, and truncation in version 2.0. The alpha release for 2.0 is scheduled for August 2010. Another upcoming release will include a user self-service password reset. During our March 2010 public catalog focus groups, staff had suggested all of these improvements for the catalog. These enhancements will reduce the number of items on our list of development needs for the catalog. 

More work to be done

Despite these upcoming enhancements, there are other opportunities for improving the Evergreen catalog. If there is a feature from another next-generation catalog that you think would benefit our libraries, let us know so that we can explore the possibilities for making it happen.