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Evergreen conference celebrates decade of innovation

GPLS News, June 2016

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Evergreen conference celebrates decade of innovation
Terran McCanna, PINES program manager: "By the time I completed my short presentation on it, an attendee from the Sage Library System in Oregon already had our code installed and running on a test server!"

Evergreen may have sprouted in Georgia a decade ago, but its growth has reached nearly 1,800 libraries worldwide. The 2016 Evergreen International Conference, held April 2023 in Raleigh, North Carolina, was a 10th anniversary celebration of the open-source integrated library system (ILS) software.

Representing GPLS and leading sessions at the annual conference were Julie Walker, state librarian; Elizabeth McKinney, PINES program director; Chris Sharp, PINES system administrator; Elaine Hardy, PINES and collaborative projects manager; Dawn Dale, PINES help desk manager; and Terran McCanna, PINES program manager. These and other staff members who attended rubbed elbows and networked with more than 220 Evergreen developers, programmers, end users, third-party partners and others from around the world who work with the ILS software.

"It was so gratifying to see representatives of libraries from around the world that are successfully deploying what began as our little homegrown ILS," said Walker, who joined McKinney and former Deputy State Library Director David Singleton, now director of libraries for the Charlotte Mecklenburg (N.C.) Library, to present Fireside Chat: Pioneering and Early Development of Evergreen. Each served on the original Evergreen development team and all were instrumental in its launch and in much of its success.

"I especially enjoyed that fireside chat with David and Elizabeth, as we reminisced about our adventures in software development," Walker said. "It's hard to believe 10 years have passed since those early days."

McCanna was also delighted by the reception of her presentation, which unveiled new code for PINES Quick Reports. "It's not only been well-received by our libraries, but it has attracted interest from other Evergreen systems," she said. "In fact, by the time I completed my short presentation on it, an attendee from the Sage Library System in Oregon already had our code installed and running on a test server!"

GPLS staff members weren't the only representatives from Georgia to return from Raleigh with memorable moments, stories and insights. This year, GPLS awarded nine scholarships to Georgia library staff, each covering up to $700 worth of conference expenditures.

The recipients were: Kimberly Clayton, branch manager/PINES administrator at Clayton County Library System; Alisa Claytor, computer specialist with Athens Regional Library System; Jennifer Durham, director of Statesboro Regional Public Libraries; Chantal Gunn, reference administrative assistant with Augusta-Richmond County Public Library System; Sam Link, system services librarian for Greater Clarks Hill Regional Library System; Tangela McKibbens, branch manager, Henry County Library System; Ceil Smith, assistant director for Three Rivers Regional Library System; Linh Uong, collection management/PINES operations librarian at Northeast Georgia Regional Library System; and Belle Reynoso, assistant director of access services with Clayton County Library System.

"I found attending the conference an invaluable opportunity to learn more about the software that serves as the backbone of many library systems throughout the U.S. and world," said Gunn. "I was able to make connections, learn more about interacting with the software and gained a better understanding of how my system fits into the future of the Evergreen community."

"We were so pleased to be able to offer these scholarships and to have greater PINES representation at the conference this year," said McKinney. "Based on the positive feedback from all of the scholarship winners, we are hoping to leverage their experiences into new ideas for PINES and spur more direct participation in the Evergreen community from PINES member libraries."

Attending an event honoring the 10th anniversary of Evergreen also evoked a sense of nostalgia for some, especially in Bin Lin, PINES cataloging specialist. Lin is, in fact, the person who originally suggested the software be named Evergreen as a nod to the trees that provide the beloved year-round greenery across the American South and in her native China.

"An evergreen pine tree is a symbol for longevity in my culture, and it is one of the favorite subjects for watercolor paintings by Chinese artists," said Lin. "They don't wither in winter; they can always weather harsh conditions."

Ten years on, the name still promises the continued growth that Evergreen's originators envisioned for the homegrown software.