Looking Back at Evergreen Conference 2011

After each big event I go to I try to think a little about what I took away from it and see what I need to follow up on.  Given how much of my job is involves SC LENDS as an Evergreen consortium the annual conference is a big annual event, for me.  It was a crazy four days in many ways, running from event to event and mingling during before and after.  As an INTJ I find these events exhausting and the gap of time I’m gone leaves me with tons to do when I get back.  So, the conference in bullet points:

  • I met a lot of great folks I’ve worked with remotely during the past year, some from commercial interests and some from other Evergreen libraries.  It is nice to put physical presences to the email / Twitter / Facebook personalities I already knew.  Also, some great food.
  • I encountered a lot of people from new and soon to come up Evergreen libraries.  By my rough count I think the attendance was up from last year with fewer people per institution but a lot more institutions represented.  I think this is very exciting for the community.
  • We have, within SC LENDS, had some issues with SIP services and needing more extensions defined.  We are working with a commercial vendor to define those extensions that would most benefit Evergreen’s SIP stack and work towards something that might benefit the larger Evergreen community.  The conference helped me make contact with some folks and facilitate the beginning stages of this.
  • Shasta Brewer’s and my presentation on the deduping algorithm went well.  I will put these slides up on slideshare soon.  Reactions were varied as I expected them to be.  The scale of results shocked most people so much that even if they disagreed with some of my values they applauded the work.  Many were unequivocal in their applause and were thrilled to learn that we are working on releasing the SQL code under the GPL and the algorithm under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution license.  There was one clarification I wanted to make though.  Some were confused by my statement that patrons often do not care if a hardback and softcover book are merged together.  It should not be extrapolated from that statement that I do not care.  SC LENDS has agreed to abide by AACR2 rules and we will separate editions when we find them.  However, we have very few merges of merged editions that are that distinct since catalogers were rarely that sloppy to begin with (bordering on non-existent compared to size of the database).  The bad merges we are not merging are those that are so close in editorial nature that neither staff nor patrons are noticing that they are different.  Rarely do we notice different forwards or extra blank pages from the cutting of the folio and although SC LENDS does agree to separate those editions if they are discovered.
  • The presentation on Becoming our Own Vendor was less linear than the deduping but was well received.  I got a lot of feedback from upcoming Evergreen libraries.  It is very obvious to me that we need more published information on metrics and decision making about going to a hosted ILS.  This is based not just on this presentation but other inquires and discussions with libraries in the last six months.  I originally intended for that presentation to be largely about governance and self determination.  The self determination remained a big part of the presentation (and where the title comes from) but the governance wasn’t much of an issue really.  The issues that SC LENDS has faced have more to do with distribution of labor and what became interesting was how we dealt with it in a very open source manner.
  • I wasn’t able to attend the Clockwork Hippo discussion on holds but Jennifer Finney and others did and received confirmation that our “reverse engineering” of holds behavior was accurate.  Other issues we have tracked down related to fines also proved to be accurate.  This puts us in a very good position going forward to deal with these issues and I hope that as we build our own solutions we can provide feedback to the community about standard ways to handle these issues that can go back into the codebase.
  • I’ve come to realize that the work we’ve done in the last year has put us in a very strong position in learning and building up some of our human assets.  We still have a lot of challenges ahead but we’re have concrete plans to deal with problems.  Actually, I think this next year will be pretty amazing.
  • The agreement with the Software Freedom Conservancy is moving ahead which I think in the long run is critical as a piece of insurance in protecting Evergreen’s intellectual property.
  • On the development side the programmers seem fairly unanimous in going to git, which I agree with though I’m not a big stake holder in this as I don’t currently contribute any code.
  • The developer update which largely deals with Evergreen 2.1 is here: http://librarypolice.com/docs/egils/egconf11_dev_update.html#(1)
  • If anyone is interested in a collection of the tweets from the conference they are here: http://twapperkeeper.com/hashtag/egconf11 Ben Ostrowsky @benostrowsky live tweeted both of my presentations and I think did a good job of capturing the major points.