Conifer/Evergreen -- OLA 2009

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Conifer/Evergreen -- OLA 2009

  1. 1. <ul><ul><li>Project Conifer: Evergreen Library System for Ontario Universities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>John Fink </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Digital Technologies Development Librarian </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>McMaster University </li></ul></ul>
  2. 2. My relationship with the ILS, 1995-2009:
  3. 3. Why do I love the ILS? <ul><li>It helps make our resources ubiquitous and available or... </li></ul><ul><li>...never underestimate the power of being able to do things in your pajamas. </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><ul><li>It handles a lot of what we typically get in our heads when we think library , even though the nature of the library – especially in academia – has changed dramatically over the last fifteen years or so, with the rise of databases, websites, reference services over IM and SMS, things like that. </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. <ul><ul><li>But about fifteen years ago, when everything was changing, just around the time I bought a jar of hot sauce over the Web and thought holy crap, this is the future , libraries pretty much were their physical collections – those books and magazines – and had been since, well, the invention of libraries. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><ul><li>And the ILS, then, was a major thing. </li></ul></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><ul><li>It ran on Important Machines : </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. <ul><li>And it cost a lot of money. </li></ul>
  9. 10. <ul><ul><li>And we paid. We paid because we couldn't do it ourselves, and the benefits that the ILS gave us over the card catalogue was wonderful. </li></ul></ul>
  10. 11. <ul><ul><li>And even though the money was a lot, the issue isn't really money... </li></ul></ul>
  11. 12. <ul><li>Libraries and librarians like open and free standards and working with other libraries and the public. </li></ul><ul><li>That's why we made interchange standards like MARC, Z39.50 and SRU, and, oh yeah, loan all those books out to people with no upfront costs. </li></ul>
  12. 13. <ul><li>But to proprietary companies, interoperability is largely undesireable... </li></ul><ul><li>... because it means you have mobility... </li></ul><ul><li>... and if you have mobility... </li></ul>
  13. 14. <ul><ul><li>You might go somewhere. </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. But first, for the uninitiated <ul><li>What is Evergreen? </li></ul><ul><li>It's an ILS that... </li></ul><ul><li>Is scalable... </li></ul><ul><li>Built on open standards... </li></ul><ul><li>Runs on cheap-ish hardware... </li></ul><ul><li>And is open source! </li></ul>
  15. 16. What is Open Source?
  16. 17. Why is Open Source important to us? <ul><li>It's not because it's free. </li></ul><ul><li>...well, not just  because it's free... </li></ul><ul><li>...because it's open... </li></ul><ul><li>... and open means it can't be taken away from you. </li></ul>
  17. 18. <ul><ul><li>If you can't open it, you don't own it. </li></ul></ul>
  18. 19. <ul><li>That sounds terrific. Why isn't everyone everywhere using this? </li></ul><ul><li>Fear of open source </li></ul><ul><li>Many many different pieces == many many places to break. </li></ul><ul><li>Install process getting better , but... </li></ul><ul><li>New ways of doing things == learning curve... </li></ul>
  19. 21. <ul><li>So what's Project Conifer? </li></ul><ul><li>It's a confederation of five institutions: </li></ul><ul><li>Laurentian, Windsor, and McMaster (mid-2007) </li></ul><ul><li>Then NOSM and Algoma University (mid-2008) </li></ul><ul><li>...but probably nobody else (yet)... </li></ul><ul><li>With a single ILS install in Guelph. </li></ul><ul><li>...(Guelph?) </li></ul>
  20. 22. What Conifer is NOT: <ul><li>Provincially comprehensive </li></ul><ul><li>Official at any sort of OCUL-type level </li></ul><ul><li>Its own, separate entity </li></ul><ul><li>An OhioLINK-style resource sharing scheme </li></ul><ul><li>or... </li></ul><ul><li>Operational (May 2009!) </li></ul>
  21. 23. Step back, and breathe... <ul><li>Of course, now you're asking yourself... </li></ul><ul><li>...but hey, why would any one of you, let alone five of you, decide to ditch the ILS systems you have now which are working pretty well, or at least decently right now, and jump into something Completely Unknown? </li></ul><ul><li>well... </li></ul>
  22. 24. It's NOT unknown <ul><li>Examples of Evergreen installs: </li></ul><ul><li>Georgia PINES (~280 libraries) </li></ul><ul><li>BC SITKA (18 libraries) </li></ul><ul><li>Michigan Library Consortium </li></ul><ul><li>The Indiana Open Source ILS Initiative </li></ul><ul><li>UPEI </li></ul>
  23. 25. So it's proven, but... <ul><li>At the moment, it lacks what we would consider more ”academic” features, like acquistions, serials, reserves, and batch import/export. </li></ul><ul><li>These are due in with version 2.0 in mid-May, 2009. </li></ul>
  24. 26. We're doing this because: <ul><li>All of us, in one form or another, have had proprietary software companies fail us; whether it's because the software or hardware is being end-of-lifed, and migration costs are exorbitant . </li></ul><ul><li>And nowadays, we're smart enough to take some measure of responsibility for the operation and development of our own software. </li></ul>
  25. 27. But really, we're afraid: <ul><li>Of being told we can do something but then having it taken from us </li></ul><ul><li>Of being locked into a platform that is dying a slow death due to corporate takeovers or an arbitrary technology shift. </li></ul><ul><li>Of dependencies. </li></ul>
  26. 28. <ul><ul><li>So really, it's less a ”hey this software is free and we don't have to pay for it” kind of thing and more a ”we need to take a little more interest in what, exactly, this piece of software – long the central kernel of the library – is doing.” </li></ul></ul>
  27. 29. <ul><ul><li>Because it's not cheap – there are hardware and opportunity costs involved, and just about any change means at least some modicum of training, and a whole lot of headache. </li></ul></ul>
  28. 30. <ul><ul><li>Headache? </li></ul></ul>
  29. 31. So where's the setback? <ul><ul><li>McMaster won't, as it turns out, be migrating with Conifer in May 2009. </li></ul></ul>
  30. 32. ”But wait...” <ul><li>”But waitaminit,” I hear you say... </li></ul><ul><li>”...He wasted X number of minutes saying how awesome Evergreen is, and now they're not even migrating?...” </li></ul><ul><li>...Well, like Facebook sez... </li></ul>
  31. 33. <ul><ul><li>”It's Complicated.” </li></ul></ul>
  32. 34. <ul><li>We decided in the end that features like recalls, acquisitions, serials, and batch import/export were too important, too necessary for our functionality to go ahead without them in May. </li></ul><ul><li>Early adopters – like UPEI – have unusual workarounds that won't scale for us. </li></ul><ul><li>We are, in part, a victim of our size and our (comparative) lack of urgency so we're planning on... </li></ul>
  33. 35. <ul><li>...Migrating when our feature requirements are met... </li></ul><ul><li>...running a local install that will potentially share records with Guelph... </li></ul><ul><li>...still contribute time and resources to Project Conifer. </li></ul>
  34. 36. <ul><ul><li>Our ship is sinking, it's just not sinking quite as fast. </li></ul></ul>
  35. 37. Ten years on?
  36. 38. <ul><ul><li>One year later, they went out of business. </li></ul></ul>
  37. 39. Image credits: <ul><ul><li>love/hate photo courtesy of [email_address] @ flickr: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>http://www.flickr.com/photos/fiji_art/2414595461/ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Coherent image courtesy of mrbill @ flickr: http://flickr.com/photos/mrbill/29870228/ </li></ul></ul>

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