February 17, 2018

King County Goes Live with Customized Evergreen ILS

In case you missed it, the King County Library System (KCLS), Issaquah, WA, recently went live with its customized version of the open-source Evergreen integrated library system (ILS). YouTube videos were soon posted documenting KCLS’s migration progress.

Up to now, most open-source ILS migrations have been at smaller libraries. This go-live for the large suburban Seattle system is the latest milestone in a project geared toward getting large and small public library systems across the country thinking about open-source ILS possibilities.

Last year, KCLS was awarded a $998,556 (match $1,014,400) grant by the Institute of Museum and Library Services to partner with other public library systems—including Peninsula Library System (San Mateo, CA), Orange County Library System (Orlando, FL), and Ann Arbor District Library (MI)—in order to develop “infrastructure components” to help ease the way for public libraries looking into migrating to an open-source ILS.

One of the first parts of the new KCLS system brought online was the central distribution automated materials sorter, followed quickly by the capacity to check items in and out, including self-checkout, KCLS information technology services director Jed Moffitt told LJ.

“The migration is going better than I could have ever anticipated, and at the same time there’s a ton of work to do,” he said.

In the meantime, LJ will be following this project closely.

David Rapp About David Rapp

David Rapp (drapp@mediasourceinc.com) was formerly Associate Editor, LJ.



  1. There’s one thing that I’d like to clarify. While KCLS has indeed done quite a bit of customization, particularly to their OPAC, the version of Evergreen they are running is an alpha release of 2.0 that is available to all and sundry from http://evergreen-ils.org/downloads.php. KCLS also plans to release their OPAC “skin” under an open source license.

  2. I would respectfully disagree with the assessment that Evergreen has primarily been used by small and medium libraries. Yes, most have been smaller as individual libraries but there are large consortia using Evergreen which are large in terms of transactions, users, materials and buying power. With the growth of features in 2.0 KCLS’s adoption is benefiting everyone and I suspect we’ll see interest continue to grow.

  3. Frustrated User says:

    This new system is HORRIBLE! It takes forever to search anything, checking my user record frequently locks up my browser, and there are HUGE lines at the physical library checkout because most people still can’t figure out how to use the self checkout with their new PIN (hint – read the signs all over the library…it’s the last 4 digits of your phone number). Anyway, why did KCLS switch to this awful system? I don’t see any advantages. Furthermore, the website leaves users in the dark with what’s going on (admit you have a MAJOR problem with this rollout, but are working to fix it ASAP).

  4. John Andrews says:

    Sadly, I agree with Frustrated User. The new PAC has been down more than it has been up over the past few weeks — WEEKS!! I’m a fairly frequent patron at King County and use the PAC on a weekly basis – or at least try to.

    I’ve tried IE, Firefox and Chrome browsers with similar dysfunction. The previous PAC was at least reliable and did not lock up your session. Didn’t Library staff test this application before going live? I hope this isn’t a “make work” project for Library staff, I’d hate to see our tax dollars going down yet another black hole. Please King County, fix it or replace it — your patrons deserve better.

  5. Still not working any better!

  6. The Problems with this system are far deeper than the question of access. For example, the login process ties up the user’s browser until login is complete. I use a number of sites requiring logins, none of which cause this problem. The search “feature” does not seem to use any sane criteria for its searches. The results are often random and irrelevant.

    Magazines can no longer be requested online–they must be requested in person at the library by a librarian. There is no information on how many holds are on an item until after it is requested. When the site should update, i.e. after renewals or hold cancellations, it doesn’t do so for quite some time. I can’t be more specific because the period is inconsistent as are most aspects of this system.

    I could go on but suffice it to say that almost every aspect of this new catalog including self-checkout, hold fulfillment, fine paying, search and general usability is a step backward from the earlier catalog and the previous catalog was pretty poor to begin with.

    I would describe myself as a power user–I’m usually near the limit on both holds and checkouts at both my King County local and the Seattle Library. Seattle, despite being larger (by volume count) manages to maintain and upgrade its catalog and to provide far more features than King County. For example, from the item page on the SPL catalog , one can do related web searches, read several different reviews (including Amazon), and see the cover enlarged without having to go off-site.

    This is what a modern online catalog should be able to do at a minimum. While I understand the appeal of open-source software, Evergreen doesn’t seem ready for prime time. If King county residents are going to be beta testers for this software, maybe the library should offer us an option. I don’t like the idea of my tax dollars going to pay for a system that is unusable.