What began in early spring 2007 as a simple brainstorming session between the Indiana State Library and partner Hussey - Mayfield Memorial Public Library (Zionsville, IN) quickly developed into potentially one the largest open-source integrated library system (ILS) consortiums in the country. Initial discussions pertained to the feasibility of developing an open-source ILS for Indiana libraries. Once deemed feasible, the Indiana State Library and Hussey-Mayfield researched the open-source ILSís available, which ultimately led to the selection of Evergreen.
What turned the Indiana State Library and Hussey-Mayfield on to Evergreen was its scalability. At the time, it was unknown whether one, 10, or 100 Indiana libraries would participate in the initiative. However, the nearly seamless conversion of hundreds of Georgia Pines member libraries to Evergreen was a good indication the software was capable of meeting Indianaís needs.
"The State Library was impressed by the continued growth and development of the Evergreen software itself, and its flexibility to meet the individual needs of the local library," said Roberta Brooker, Indiana State Librarian. "Evergreen was developed by the library community and possesses many user-friendly modules and applications that best suit the needs of libraries."
In December 2007, Brooker contacted the libraries in Indiana, (public, school, academic and special) asking if there was an interest in learning more about Evergreen. Over 100 libraries (including public libraries representing 59.5% of Indianaís population) submitted a "letter of intent" indicating an interest to participate in the initial discussion among Indiana libraries of how an open-source ILS might be of value to libraries. At this time, the State Library indicated that most of the costs for the Evergreen installation and ongoing system maintenance would be funded by the State Library through Federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) grants.
The potential savings for the taxpayer and the convenience for the library user is what attracted the staff at the Indiana State Library to pursue this as a viable initiative for Indiana libraries. Evergreen Indiana is expected to collectively save Indianaís 238 public libraries about $15 million per year after most of the public libraries in this state are involved.
"The Indiana Library community needed a viable way to save tax dollars and this project will not only conserve scarce resources but will also enhance their ability to share resources with one another," said Brooker. "Eventually, access to the 24 million items owned by Indianaís public libraries could be just a click away for patrons of participating public libraries."
In spring 2008, twenty libraries opted to join the Evergreen Indiana Pilot group that would migrate to Evergreen Indiana in late 2008. These libraries were asked to sign a Membership Agreement and Code of Ethics and to provide staff time to serve on a variety of governance committees. Soon after, Hussey-Mayfield and Indiana State Library staff enlisted the services and expertise of Equinox Software, Inc. to develop a comprehensive migration strategy for Indiana libraries.
With a migration strategy in place, the 20 pilot libraries elected the first Evergreen Indiana Executive Committee in August 2008 and commenced the development of the consortiumís policies and procedures.
"The directors of the pilot libraries have embraced Evergreen despite the need to sacrifice some individual differences in circulation and patron policies knowing that Evergreen Indiana provides them with the opportunity to bring outstanding service to their patrons in a fiscally responsible manner" said Catherine Lemmer, Project Coordinator for Evergreen Indiana.
On August 25, Hussey-Mayfield became the first library to migrate to Evergreen Indiana. An additional 17 libraries will migrate from October 2008 to January 2009. These pilot libraries are migrating from a variety of ILS systems and serve populations ranging from 1,500 to 35,000.
Over the past year, the Evergreen Indiana Consortium has seen a steady rise in interest from all types of libraries around the state. Because of this, the Consortium has begun accepting new applications from libraries seeking to migrate to Evergreen in 2009. The State Library consistently encouraged all libraries to look into Evergreen because membership in the Consortium is limitless and the savings for each library are significant.