The Case Studies
Boule, Michelle, Library Technology Reports
The following five case studies were chosen for two reasons: the teams created work products that I believe are significant in the library world, and the teams used a variety of technological tools to complete their work. The case studies are all examples of successful teams and project management.
All of the interviews were conducted by the author over e-mail and Google Docs.
History of the Project
Evergreen, a project that took over three and a half years from concept to implementation, is an ongoing effort to create the best open-source integrated library system (ILS) available. Tired of being a small voice in a large crowd and having virtually no input into how its ILS was configured and improved, the Georgia Public Library Service decided to create its own ILS for its member libraries. GPLS wanted flexibility and an OPAC that responded to how users access information. It wanted to build something with which it could give better service. By making the Evergreen project an open-source endeavor from the beginning, GPLS capitalized on existing open-source communities and interested library technology people to create a supportive community that helped the work at all stages of the process and made the code available for other libraries to use.
with the Evergreen Project Team led by Elizabeth McKinney de Garcia, PINES Program Director
What was the estimated amount of time the project took to go from the planning process to launch?
It took about 18 months to decide to pursue creating an open-source integrated library system; once we arrived at the decision to develop our own integrated library system, planning and development took a little over two years. We began by holding a series of forums around the state, talking with PINES libraries (and others in the library community) about the open-source development process. We followed the forums with 10 focus groups; these were held around the state, and were designed to collect data from our customers (+/- 2500 public library staff and members of the library community) about how the software should work. Focus groups took place during the summer of 2004. The go-live date for our libraries using the Evergreen software was September 5, 2006.
Initially folks had trouble thinking outside of what existing/known software was capable of doing. In order to get past this, one of our developers came up with a phrase that was useful: "Pretend it is magic." This meant to forget about what you know about what software can or cannot do, and tell us how you really want it to work. That phrase helped folks to really use their imagination in thinking about the possibilities for an entirely new product. As a result, we have wonderful ideas to enhance the software for several years to come.
[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]
About how many people were involved in the project? Were these people geographically in different places? Where were they?
The PINES staff led development of the software. Our staff includes 9 FTE [full-time-equivalent staff members], including a development group of four programmers. Although the developers were located in the Atlanta area, they attended every focus group and listened to feedback from throughout the state. An open-source community quickly developed around Evergreen that included hundreds of interested participants from around the world. In addition, library staff from around the state of Georgia participated in reviewing and testing the software throughout the development process.
What, if any, technology or tools did you use to communicate, plan, and execute your project? Please explain briefly why each tool was chosen.
The PINES staff, the open-source community, and the Georgia library community are scattered across the state and around the world. …