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Eight years on

Eight years ago this past weekend, Labor Day in the US, I spent 72 sleepless hours migrating the first 275 libraries to Evergreen.  I can’t claim to remember every moment of that long weekend, but I’m told that there were many feats of derring-do, perhaps even some swashbuckling.  In the end our small team managed to reach that first production Evergreen launch on time and with only minor bumps and bruises, to us and to the libraries, to show for the effort.  Of course, this wasn’t simply a single long weekend.  It was the culmination of two years of effort by not just myself and my cohorts, but also the librarians of the PINES network and the rest of the GPLS staff.

As the days following PINES’ move to Evergreen turned into months, and those months into years, I’ve performed, been involved with, or witnessed scores more migrations, hundreds of development projects, and innumerable late night bug-fixing sessions.  As with any human endeavor, not all were perfect. Each, though, was a declaration that echoed the goal of that first Evergreen Labor Day weekend; that by working together toward a common purpose, libraries have the ability to define and control their destiny by defining and controlling their essential tools.  Recognizing that was one of the reasons I founded Equinox with my original PINES teammates.

As I look back over the last ten years of laboring to build Evergreen and all the software that surrounds and enables it, it’s that sense of purpose and that increasing momentum that has remained steady.  That’s still a large part of what keeps me interested and energized, and, I believe, what attracts talented new minds to our community.  Much has changed over the years, both at Equinox and in the Evergreen community at large, and much more will change in the years to come.  It’s clear, though that the mere existence of Evergreen ten years on, let alone its unquestionable success, is proof positive that Open Source is more than a simple means to a specific end.  The Open Source methodology is, more than any license, the sustainable path of self-determination that knowledge institutions writ large can leverage for the benefit of their own needs and the needs of those they serve.

And that, in the end, is why Equinox is here.  Because the community we all belong to is larger than the libraries that use Evergreen, and larger than the patrons served by those libraries.  Each employee at Equinox, and each individual contributor from institutions using Evergreen today, is part of a still larger movement that has and will continue to change the world for the better.  The Open Source solutions we build are not simply about “breaking the chains” of proprietary software, but about empowering individuals to improve themselves while improving the tools we all use.