Evergreen began in a similar way. In 2004, when it was obvious their legacy ILS could no longer support the needs of their 270-plus library consortium, Georgia PINES, the resource-sharing network of Georgia Public Library Service, held focus groups in which librarians were told, “Pretend it’s magic, and describe what you’d like library software to do.” (Disclosure: I work for Equinox, the support and development company for Evergreen.) Librarians then helped custom design the product to do the things existing software had not done well, whether it was reindexing large amounts of data, presenting book jackets in search results, or simply making it easy to enter a cataloging record.
It’s a theme common to OSS development: the product stays close to the user. Most of us who deal with proprietary software are very far from the people who actually write those programs. But in the OSS model, the development community works in the open, on discussion and chat lists. Not only good for us, this helps developers, too, acting as a continuous reality check on user needs.
Adding this article to course reading lists!