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Includes basic information and some documentation distributed by Equinox during earlier version migration training.

1. OPAC: Online Public Access Catalog

1.1. Your Brand: Colors and Logo

Choose wisely the scheme of color to promote accessibility and readability by your patrons and staff.

Standard template customization options are included with migration:

  • Provide a 1 or 2 graphic file(s) of your logo (suggested format types and sizes) to be installed in 1 or 2 places on your catalog page.
  • Pick colors that make the catalog best for your patrons and match your brand.
  • The basket is always green.
  • SPARK Libraries standards include IMLS and SPARK acknowledgement.
  • PowerLibrary graphic link and logo may be included if desired.
  • Choose links to appear on menu bars.
  • Setting to enable New Items carousel.

Standard template customization options are included with migration, some "extras" you may need to request to have applied during OPAC update periods or learn how to do "on your own". 

Upcoming class hosted this February to learn template toolkit to learn how to do this for yourself and help other libraries.


1.2. OPAC Icons in SPARK : Fixed Fields

This documentation was created by our vendor, Equinox in 2017.  All rights reserved.

Special Note: We now have an icon for pre-recorded audio content players, courtesy of the Fixed Fields project. 

It's time to update this documentation.  There's a role for everyone in the SPARK Community.

1.3. Navigation Links

Your online catalog offers the opportunity to include links on the Top Navigation bar and on the Bottom Navigation bar.

Be aware that the Top Navigation bar is not displayed if your customers are using a small screen mobile device.

Answer this question during migration as we set up your OPAC:

1.  Which links/text do you want to have across the top?

2.  Which links/text do you want to have across the bottom?

Common setups include:

  • Library local website Home Page (this is a library setting to complete too.)
  • Direct Links to E-resources page on your local website
  • POWERLibrary link (use the link generator to find your link and determine whether to use Subject or Alphabetical list.)
  • Kids Catalog Link
  • Events calendar link
  • Hours / Address / Contact Page
  • Start Over (new catalog search, clearing everything out)
  • Request Library Card (to link to Evergreen's Request Library Card form, which makes Pending Patrons)
  • Survey or feedback form

1.4. KPAC

The KPAC is the Kids Version of the public catalog.

When you join PaILS and become a member of the SPARK Community, you decide if you would like a link to use a catalog that is designed with a kid friendly layout and will restrict to kids content. 

The kids catalog can look like this and will have a URL that ends in : sparkpa.org/eg/kpac/home  

Try out this Kids Catalog.

There is also another template that can be used for the Kids Catalog, but this one is custom for PA.

The KPAC will only display items with an audience code that relates to children, and those are a,b,c,d, and j.

# - Unknown or not specified
a - Preschool
b - Primary
c - Pre-adolescent
d - Adolescent
e - Adult
f - Specialized
g - General
j - Juvenile
| - No attempt to code

Tell us at SPARK: Do your kid patrons enjoy the Word, Title, and Author Search or the image categories?  Let us know.

1.5. Request Library Card

If you want to use the Request Library Card feature of Evergreen, you will choose which fields of data you want to collect and which will be mandatory when completing the web form.  You will indicate where on the catalog page the link to it will reside. Most libraries choose to have it on the bottom navigation bar of their public catalog and also put a link directly to the form on their website.

Some libraries choose not to use this feature if they have their own online web form.

Cons of this feature:

Pros of this feature:

  • Easy way to offer patrons to complete their own data entry. 
  • Use it at a kiosk to have patrons enter their data and staff can verify and process their card when they come to the desk to check out.
  • Web-based.  Use it any time of day.  
  • You can go wild on your own and set up guidelines to send the barcode number to the patron in an email or to mail a card with your staff workflow.

Learn more about the Request Library Card feature in our current 3.3 Training Guide.

1.6. My Account: Patron Password Format decision

During migration of your data to Evergreen, you will discuss how you want to establish default PIN/passwords for your migrated patrons.

Common choices:

  • Last 4 digits of phone
  • Last 4 digits of card number
  • Default

(I feel like I've written a similar post already in another book...the SPARK community will help populate our knowledge books with content.)

1.7. Tracking Analytics for your Catalog

If you want to get data about how many times your catalog website page is visited, you need to apply Analytics to your catalog site.

Evergreen natively supports Google Analytics, but other data analytic vendors may also be supported.

Getting Google Analytics for your SPARK OPAC

  1. Sign up for a Google Analytics Account: https://analytics.google.com/analytics

    1. You can set up separate ‘properties’ within  if you want to ONLY view your opac data separately from your website traffic data - but if you separate them into different properties, you cannot view all the data together. 

    2. I suggest doing the basic Google Analytics Academy training to get more information on how this works. https://analytics.google.com/analytics/academy/ 

  2. Get your tracking code. When you sign up, Google Analytics will assign you a tracking code. They are typically in this format: UA-#########-1

    1. You will need to send SPARK this code: 

    2. Once you have moved through the signup process, you can access this from Google Analytics Home - Admin (bottom left hand corner) - Tracking Info - Tracking Code

  3. Copy the text under “Tracking ID” and paste it in an email to support@spark-pa.org with the addresses of the OPACs that you want to track with this Google Analytics property.  Use subject line “OPAC Template Change.” (Sample request below.)

Note: Website hits data will be an element of the 2019 Annual Report from the Office of Commonwealth and will be reported up to IMLS. 

Sample request for OPAC Template Change for Analytics

To: support@sparkpa.org

From: your friendly local library director

Re: OPAC Template Change 

Hello SPARK support! I would like to start tracking hits to my OPAC at myamazinglibrary.sparkpa.org. Below you will see the tracking ID that needs to be inserted into my OPAC template. 

Tracking ID



Thank you, 

your friendly local library director


1.8. Customize the No Results Screen

If you want customized text and links to your own local request forms to appear when there are NO RESULTS for a search, you can request to have your template customized.

Many locations do what you see in this example if they have a local online form for Suggest for Purchase or Request Via Interlibrary Loan:

To request an OPAC customization, contact SPARK Support.  A sample of a clear request is outlined below.  You can include any text.  Please specify what URLs should be.

Please customize the screen display shown in our OPAC when no search results are found.  Our site is at "library".catalog.sparkpa.org 

When No Results are returned for a search, text on screen should display as described here:  

No entries were found for your search. 

Try your search again, using the search tips here and make sure your keywords are correct. 

If item you want cannot be found in our library, you may:

Suggest for Purchase or

Request to Borrow from another Library

Use the URLS below on the text as indicated:

Suggest for Purchase: "https://your webform full address"
Request to Borrow from another Library: "https://your webform full address"

Bonus Note:  If you are a whiz with code and like to learn more, a future SPARK Community project will be to provide training so you can learn how to customize some screens of the OPAC on your own.  Let us know you have staff who are qualified and interested to edit your templates.  A place to start learning is the Template Toolkit.

1.9. Carousel Feature

Evergreen has a feature for Carousels which will display pictures of cover art with a link to titles in your catalog.

During migration we can work with you to set up this feature.

You can have carousels that you create by hand using staff created lists of items for specific topics, or you can create a carousel that automatically populates:

  • based on the Date the Item was Added to your location (Newly Cataloged Items)
  • based on items returned to your location (Recently Returned Items)
  • based on how popular an item is (Top Circulated Items)
  • based on new items by Shelving Location

An example of what a carousel looks like is below or you can see one in action on a SPARK member library catalog

On the site, it scrolls back and forth through all items.

1.10. Other OPAC Customizations

Your OPAC offers many options for customization, but this work takes time and effort and is typically done by our vendor or well trained staff members who understand how to use the Template Toolkit and who have approved access to try things out on a test server.

PaILS Recommends the following as changes for all SPARK Libraries:

  • Customization to "hide" the holds queue from the patron view because the number of copies and place on the holds queue is representative of the place if all locations were resource sharing, not just the copies at your location.
  • Text to display when there are No Results for a search.
  • There may be more here..

1.11. Search Scope: All Libraries

What do you and your patrons expect from the Search buttons on your public catalog page? 

What is the action of the ALL Libraries button compared to the Search button and how does it relate to Resource Sharing?

Consider the default search setting scope for your location's online catalog. This has an effect on carousels.

SPARK does not encourage additional shelving locations to be included in your Library drop down menu. 

Staff typically search via the web client and can scope searches in the way of their choosing.

1.12. Search Help and Tips

Consider Search Inputs, Filters, Limits, and Sorts.

Try sample searches on the SPARK Libraries catalog to understand how your patrons will find items and what search options look like in the standard public access catalog template. 

Practice with Basic, Advanced, Browse.

In Advanced, try Numeric or Expert.

Note: In the shared catalog, relevancy rankings don't always seem perfectly accurate.  We all have more to learn.

2. Library Settings / Administrative ORG Decisions

2.1. Selecting and Ordering Barcodes

SPARK prefers 14 Digit numeric barcodes.

Libraries migrating to SPARK: Check with PaILS staff to see if your barcode range duplicates any already in SPARK.  We need to know your current barcode format, especially if you are using short barcodes from your previous ILS.

Existing SPARK libraries: When ordering new barcodes, continue to use your current prefixes. If you have any questions or concerns or want/need to use a new prefix, contact SPARK support before making decisions or ordering.

More about barcodes:

Specifications for sample barcode 2033900000001#

  • 14 digit Codabar
  • Left-most (1st) digit is "3" for item records and "2" for patrons
  • 2 - 5th digit is Unique Library Identifier: e.g. 0339 for their street address, or 9547 for part of their zip code
  • 6 - 13th digit starts sequential numbering.  If this is the first order start with 00000001 to start at patron number 1
  • 14th digit; Check digit based on type-1 modulus-10 algorithm (represented by # sign above - ?vendor? will create it)

When Printing Plastic Cards:

  • Facestock of 4 mil minimum, with matte overlamination of 1.5 mil minimum
  • Adhesive of 2 mil minimum


More about barcodes in PaILS/SPARK: 

We have items barcode ranges that begin with 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, and 9. Some are alpha numeric.

Libraries that used Follett Classic barcodes came in with T and P prefixed barcodes, T for Titles and P patrons

See below to download a file where you can check for barcode ranges currently in use in our consortium.

2.2. Abbreviations for Library Name and ORG settings

When you join PaILS and begin to set up Evergreen, you will be asked to supply your location names as you would like them to appear in the library catalog drop down menu. 

You will also be asked to give input into what the abbreviation/policy code for your ORG and locations will be.  Choose wisely, using letters that will be unique.  PaILS advises against using PL (public library) or LS (Library System) in new member short codes, because many libraries have these characters, so they aren't "unique".

A best practice may be to select letters that align with your County, Municipality, or Library Name.

Know your ORG's short code--when you submit Support Requests, it's useful to include it so support staff can more easily reference your policies by your codes.

You will fill out library settings: be sure to do this completely, including website URL.  These fields are used for populating notices later. 

2.3. Holds Orders in Evergreen: Options and Settings

Holds, the ability for patrons and staff to select items to be retrieved from the shelf or held for use next time the item is checked in, are an important feature of a robust ILS.

The document for download below explains how Holds work in Evergreen.

This information was created by Equinox for SPARK in November of 2019.

A few highlights:

  • Evergreen targets a single copy.  If you don’t fill it, it re-targets in 24 hours.    If your location has 3 copies available, it may target each copy at your location, and then move on to the next location.
  • Proximity means the number of rungs in the hierarchy; it has nothing to do with mileage/distance.
  • SPARK only uses Hard boundaries.
  • SPARK does not use stalling.
  • It is a best practice to pull holds a few times per day.
  • Staff with permissions can force a hold regardless of policies.
  • Best Hold Selection Sort Order or First In First Out are big decisions that may be made based on many factors.

2.4. Offline Circulation

Your location should decide if you want to use the Offline Circulation feature of Evergreen if the internet is down.

The software collects scanned information and allows it to be uploaded as transactions.  The process has many steps. 

SPARK wants to learn more about the reasons libraries decide to use the feature and if they don't, what alternative process works better for their workflow. 

If You Use Offline Circulation:

Print these instructions and keep them near the circulation workstations for easy reference.

There are steps you must have taken before the system goes Offline to ensure that Offline Circulation will function completely for your location.

The address to bookmark is:  https://<yourhostname>/eg/staff/offline-interface

Note: replace the entire expression <yourhostname> with yourorgcustomname.spark.org

Evergreen's Offline Circulation interface is designed to log transactions during a network outage. Transactions can be uploaded and processed once network connectivity is restored.

Offline Circulation in the Web Staff Client relies on storing some information in the browser for offline use. Prior to using Offline Circulation, you must have access to your production server and register your workstation on the computer and in the browser you intend to use. You must also log in from that browser at least once and visit Search -> Search for Patrons. Perform a search, select a user from the results, and open the Patron Edit interfaces. This will allow the Offline interface to collect the information it needs, such as workstation information and the patron registration form.

The Offline Circulation interface can be found by navigating to Circulation -> Offline Circulation.

The permanent link for the Offline Circulation is https://<yourhostname>/eg/staff/offline-interface and it is recommended that this link be bookmarked on staff workstations. This is the location for both entering transactions while offline as well as processing them later. You will see a slightly different version of this interface depending on whether or not you are logged in.  (To continue reading, download the document below here.)


3. User/Patron Registration Concepts

3.1. Patron Profile Type Definitions

Here is a list of the Permission Groups, which are Users of the online software.  

There are two primary levels:

  • Patron
  • Staff

This post focuses on the Patron Types.  Patrons are users of the Public Catalog and do not have any permissions to use the staff interface.  Some libraries call them Borrower Types in their policies.

Libraries can set very different policies for each user type.   Using many patron types can cause complex explanations of service levels, but allows for a very detailed level of control.

The graphic shows how they appear in SPARK's Evergreen software on 2019.07.30:

I know there's a SPARK document similar to this somewhere else, so I'm going to stop writing now and look for it. 

Examples in Practice from the SPARK Community:

  • One library uses Temporary to give limited privileges to people in facilities or temporary housing situations when the person doesn't have an ID with their permanent address on it. 
  • Some use Courtesy to allow expanded privileges or exemption from fines for Staff, Trustees, Friends, or Volunteers.
  • Juvenile/YA or Adult?  Your library can choose what age Juvenile/YA ends at and what age Adult privileges begin. 
  • Documentation is a work in progress, but improving.

3.2. Duplicate Barcodes / Multiple Accounts / Merging

Duplicate Barcodes

During migration, your library is asked what your standard barcode prefix is including how many digits it is and what its standard format is.  Patron barcodes that fall outside of your standard range are not guaranteed to easily work in SPARK.  The data can migrate, but the accounts may need to be merged with other locations or have a new barcode number assigned to them.

For context: Some libraries had practices/workflows where they scanned the number on another library's plastic card, so they have many barcode numbers that are not from their own standard barcode range.  This can cause problems because your patron's number is already in the system, and duplicate barcodes are not allowed.  In these scenarios, any barcode that has already been used in the SPARK Evergreen installation, will be transformed to a unique string of x_ORGCODE_SHORT_dup############## (where the # is the original barcode.)

Multiple Accounts

SPARK recommends that a patron only needs one account to take full advantage of physical material borrowing at all SPARK Libraries.  Any barcode number scanned at a location will populate in the system. 

Some libraries choose to issue their own card to a patron, even if they are already at another SPARK library, which gives the patron 2 or more accounts in SPARK.  That is a local choice, and may be advisable for locations who want to provide access to online/e-resources that are authenticated with by customer barcode/account details.  


Do you set your web client Search Scope for Patrons to the SPARK level?  

If patrons have more than one account with a SPARK library, their login will work in your catalog interface too.  Customers with multiple accounts in our shared system may need a little education/or extra understanding of their accounts.


If you find two records for one person, those records can be merged, allowing the patron to keep both barcodes, with one as a primary. 

3.3. Patron Account Data Collection

When you join PaILS and move your existing data to SPARK on Evergreen, choose what fields of data are Required.

Your staff can view Required Fields, Suggested Fields, or All Fields when they Create or Edit a Patron.

Most libraries consider the following fields to be Required--which turns them Yellow on the registration screen; you can't save the record until there is data in these fields:

  • Barcode
  • OPAC/Staff Client User Name
  • Password
  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Date of Birth (DOB) some require this, some don't--it's useful if you run reports of age based use.  (Good practice to put a standard "unlikely" DOB for those who don't want to disclose DOB, suggest 1900-01-01 for consistency)
  • Primary Identification Type (Note on collecting data: Good practice to collect only information you NEED.  If you want staff to verify they checked a drivers license, don't input the whole number, just input the last 3-4 digits--that way we have less risk of storing Protected Information and minimize patron data security risks.)
  • Main (Profile) Permission Group: (Category of privilege you assign)
  • Postal Code / Zip Code   (Detail Note: When a library joins, it's good to review the file on the server that contains the zip code/county/State combinations.  In order to add a new ZIP code to automatically populate, our vendor edits the zips.txt file on the server, pushes out the change, and restarts the search service.
    When a new library joins we can add any new zip codes to the file so Evergreen can populate County info based on Zip Code.  Evergreen is programmed to fill in County and State, saving you keystrokes from entering it manually, but when/where you notice it isn't correct, let support know.)
  • Street Address
  • City
  • County
  • State
  • Some choose to make email/phone and notification preferences mandatory.  Look for the little checkboxes for Holds Notices too.  (Detail note: patrons can change these themselves with every hold they place.)
  • Any Statistical Categories you want (or the SPARK Community wants) to collect additional data for your library.  Some of these may be mandatory and some optional.
  • Evergreen includes an option about Internet Access Level too.  Consider how you might use this field as it impacts your location. 

3.4. Statistical Categories (Stat Cats) for Users / Patrons

Statistical Categories (aka Stat Cat) allow libraries to associate locally interesting data with users/patrons or with collection items.

PaILS recommends that libraries set up Statistical Categories (stat cats) that meet your need for reports.

Libraries are encouraged to have:
  • Municipality / Residency (This helps to track use of your location and can track Out of Service Area/Access PA)

Other ways statistical categories for Users/Patrons include:
  • Whether or not you have collected a photo release or Acceptable Use policy for a patron.
  • Tracking ILL patron types.
  • Gender: M, F, Undisclosed  (this is collected less frequently, if you choose to collect it, good to leave an option for non-disclosure, etc.)
  • Age (not encouraged because collecting DOB handles this without extra workflows to update as patrons age)
  • School District
  • Receipt printing preferences
  • Ethnicity (not encouraged as it could be seen as profiling--always leave an option for non-disclosure)
  • Special Status as Board Member, Donor, Volunteer
  • Bookmobile Stop (not sure how this is used)
  • Special Program participation (100 books before K, or Learn to be Healthy)

Attached here is a list of all stat cats that were in use by PaILS Members / SPARK libraries as of May 2019.

3.5. Statewide Library Card: The Old AccessPA Stickers

You are probably aware of the Statewide Library Card program in PA. 

The idea is that any person who lives in a community that supports a state-aided public library, can also apply to get a card or borrow resources at any other state-aided public library. It's a great idea to make sure everyone can use libraries, some even while traveling this great Commonwealth.

The program supports the patron choosing the location that is best for their needs. 

Local libraries set their own policies for what privileges are assigned to people who apply for service through the Statewide Library Card program.

It is not mandated that the patron display a local library card with the accessPA sticker, though that practice is used by some libraries.  (Some libraries even scan the local library card number into their database and use that card for the borrower--this is NOT a recommended practice because it leads to issues with duplicate barcodes when more libraries join and it also causes issues with barcode range reports, but some members may still use this practice.)

There are also municipalities in Pennsylvania that do not support a local public library.  Residents who live in those areas may visit your library and may want to apply for a card.  Your library can choose to provide a library card (withOUT an ACCESSPA sticker/logo) to these people, either for free or for a fee, or you may deny service.

I'm attaching here the documentation from the recent revision to the program.

Included is:

  • Statewide Library Card Guidelines (an overview)
  • List of Municipalities that do NOT support a local library
  • For Reference, a spreadsheet of all library designated service areas.


Some libraries have different barcode ranges for patrons who have a card through AccessPA. 

Some used different patron types to delineate between "service area" patrons and others who choose to use the location.   (These locations may want to ask if the User Group would consider a new Permission Profile (AccessPA ADULT / JUV)  Setting up patron profiles to prioritize services through this setting could simplify your reports rather than using the stat cat.

3.6. Privacy Waiver: Allow Another To Use Account

When you join PaILS, you will be asked if you want the Privacy Waiver feature activated.

Do you allow patrons to share access with approved persons to use their account? 

Did you have a past practice of making a note in a patron account to let a spouse or other person pick up and checkout holds or items on a person's behalf?  If yes, we may want to consider how to move that data into these fields if possible.

3.7. Staff User Accounts

As you consider new workflows with your migration, think about what tasks/roles your different staff members and workstations will have.

For accountability, each staff member could have their own UserName account for staff actions.

Or, some locations use a shared username for the lower privilege level functions. 

Near the end of your migration process you will select from various levels of permissions/roles to assign to your staff.

Learn more about Staff Accounts.

3.8. SIP2 Accounts: Use Evergreen to authenticate to other resources

When you migrate to using our SPARK branded Evergreen Installation, you will be asked to provide a list of resources that you want to use Evergreen patron authentication for.

Example:  If you check the patron's account to get access to e-books or other resources on a third party site, Evergreen will call up the patron's account and give access to your resource vendor through the SIP2 protocol. 

We will populate this page with more information soon.

3.9. Custom Permission Tree

We want to consider this implementation soon.  Project anyone?

This is a great feature that came in 3.3 that hasn't been fully explored.

4. Requesting an Item / Holds

4.1. Holds Policies and Procedures

Empower your patrons to place their own hold requests using their account.

There are many features available to let customers make their own decisions about how to use the library card account number you have provided them. 

The SPARK Community will create some great videos and handouts to explain the Patron Experience. 

The new basket in our version 3.3 is a feature that many customers may enjoy.  Patrons are empowered to place their own requests and plan their visits to your library to pick up materials.

Staff members can also place holds for patrons. 

Ask the SPARK Community for how they handle holds on copies that have not yet arrived--there are many ways different locations do it. 

Public services staff may want to write up a workflow about how they place holds at service desks on patron request.

Newly Migrating Locations Need to Answer:

  1. Where can your patrons with your Home Library pickup items? 
  2. Where can patrons request them from?
  3. Who can request items from your locations?  (any other SPARK libraries?)
  4. How long are holds kept active?
  5. What are your rules on suspended holds? (Is this feature working as expected?)
  6. How many days will you keep an item on the shelf if there is a waiting list of others? 
  7. How many notifications do you send, at what intervals, and what is the text of those notices?
  8. Do you use a public hold shelf or a private hold shelf?  (How should slips for holds print?)

Internal Community Notes:

Can a library verify if suspending of holds from staff side is working these days?  (There's an open ticket in our helpdesk about this.)

I'm looking for a report with the statistic for how holds are place in our SPARK Libraries.  What percentage are placed by patrons and what percentage are placed by staff?   A goal could be to have patrons place more holds on their own.

4.2. Staff Forced Hold Requests

Request Item allows library staff to recall specific items from circulation by placing a recall or force hold.
Hold policies are bypassed when Request Item is used
, so factors that normally prevent an item from being put on hold, such as copy status, shelving location, and holdable status flags, are overridden.

Staff members will need the following permissions applied to their account to access Request Item:



In the SPARK Community, we are re-defining Permissions, so your input on the criteria by which you decide which roles need these features will help us to decide the best levels.

The Request Item action can be accessed through three different screens:

1.  Holdings View (Actions > Request Item)

2.  Item Status (Actions > Request Item)

3. Copy Buckets (Batch actions : Request Item)

5. Collection and Policy Mapping: Shelving Locations, Call Numbers, Circ Mods, oh my

5.1. Focus on the Patron

Keep collection data useful and policy data simple so it can easily be explained to Patrons.  

Is your data standardized now, or did you change how you did it when that staff member changed back in 2017, and you have various ways of labeling CDs? 

Check your spelling and grammar.

Only you know what you want your data to look like.  If it's perfect as it is, mapping is simple. 

Every variation means another decision.

Important to know:

Shelving Location : This is a searchable field in the Advanced Search and that box is small.  Stay consistent. 

Circ Modifiers:  Policies that use only Circ Modifiers are excellent and predictable.

Limits: How many items can one cardholder have without needing an override or special permission?  Guideline idea: Set at 100 concurrent items, 25 holds for regular accounts.  Create a patron type for high use customers like teachers or community organizations of different limits on a specific circ mod.

5.2. Statistical Categories for Items

There are statistical categories for your items.  You may use it to track a special fund, vendors, or for reports purposes. 

Local Administration-->Statistical Categories Editor.

Be in the correct Focus Location.  (Important step: don't do this for another location.  Know your powers and permissions when using the software.)

You can Add or Edit for your location from this screen.

One example is where you may have a category set up for Vendor.  If you start to order books from a new Vendor, you may need to update this Statistical Category with another choice, like I did in the example above.

Note:  I'm not sure what the default this list is populated with on migration or if it comes from your local records. 

We also need to clarify which staff permission levels are empowered with this skill.

Note: There is currently (August 2019) a bug that affects the ability to edit stat cats:


It should resolve as the Web Client continues to develop, but until then any deletes need to be handled through SPARK support.

5.3. Setting Policies for Use

After you have mapped your collection, you will set policies for how patron types interact with item attributes during transactions.

It is recommended that you keep your policies as simple as possible so that they can be easily explained to staff and patrons.

If a 10 year old can understand it, and you can recite it in a couple of sentences, it's better customer service.


Most items in our collection circulate for 21 days and can be renewed 3 times unless another customer is waiting for it.

Exceptions are:  Circulation modifier "type" is a 7 day loan period with 1 renewal.  (Note how this can impact patrons who only visit every few weeks--they can never borrow this item type--are you really providing equitable access for rural patrons?)


There is a limit of "100" physical items borrowed on a library card at a time for Adult and Juv/YA patron library cards. (Different limits for Outreach or other Patron Types?)

Limit DVDs to "10"/card because we have a small/limited collection.

Limit of "25" active hold requests.

Please see Circulation Policies and Hold Policies

5.4. Cataloging Setup: Using Copy Templates in SPARK

Download the instructions for Creating and Using Copy Templates here.

Use Copy Templates to populate item records with pre-defined fields to increase efficiency of cataloging staff workflows. 

Create templates in Administration-->Local Administration-->Volume/Copy Template Editor.

It's time for updated documentation to be created.  There's always a role for a SPARK Community member to get involved.


Would Cataloging Committee want to take on a project to create an idealized set of Copy Templates that will ensure data fields for items created match report needs?


5.5. Magazines / Serials

Before you migrate, we will ask you about how your magazines are currently cataloged. Your location may need to make decisions and changes in order to preserve the integrity of the shared bibliographic records in our catalog.

  • SPARK does not encourage locations to migrate magazine records that are older than 3 years unless your location has a retention policy to keep the holdings longer than that.
  • If your location has created an individual bibliographic record for each issue, your magazines may not be able to migrate.

Please note:

SPARK Cataloging Guidelines do not allow the item's format to be included in the 245 line of the record. 

Example of an incorrectly formatted record shows below, which may be merged in a de-duplication: https://catalog.sparkpa.org/eg/opac/record/10973285?locg=10

5.6. Monograph Parts or NOT

What is a monograph?   Search for a dictionary in your library's catalog to find out.  It's usually a written account, so not using it for DVD parts is a best practice. 

The cataloging committee advised the SPARK Community against the use of monograph parts because it creates problems for holds for all libraries that have items attached to the record. 
Example: If LIBS_US created monograph parts for the record for a DVD with multiple discs, any time anyone at any library places a title level hold on that record, they will be asked to select a part, even if they loan their copy as a set.  Holds for patrons fail when monograph part usage isn't clearly agreed upon.

When migrating, tell us how your items in sets, such as DVD series, are currently handled. 
The encouraged practice is to loan sets together, like friends would do, to allow maximum patron convenience and access and to require minimal handling for common requests to get them all in order. 
Locations who choose to circulate individual discs separately create individual bibliographic records for each disc (Example: Season 8. Discs 1 and then another for Disc 2, describing content and episodes accordingly on a record).

One decision made about monograph parts is about manga series records.  YCLS successfully uses monograph parts with those items and it works out nicely in that scenario. 

Who knows what the future holds for Monograph Parts.  It's open source after all.  

What is a monograph?   Search for a dictionary in your library's catalog to find out.  It's usually a written account, so not using it for DVD parts is a best practice. 

6. Training During Migration

6.1. Training Schedule

You know what you and your staff need.

At time of membership signature, you will choose a training level.  The PaILS Board Membership Committee is working on menu.

All SPARK member libraries receive a package of training at migration.

Ongoing training is provided via SPARK Support staff:

  • LIVE support.  If you submit a support request, sometimes staff will invite you to the online meeting room so you can see how to do it for yourself next time.  Written instructions also provided.
  • Plan to host "x" in-person trainings in 2020.
  • Documentation here walks through many tasks that someone at your location is empowered to complete.

The SPARK Community also offers trainings via the User Group Committees at regular intervals.

There are training opportunities if you are involved in the greater Evergreen Community.

Annually, PaILS offers a scholarship so members can attend the Evergreen Conference and/or Hack-a-way.

6.2. Evergreen Software Glossary / Vocabulary

Link to the github page where a glossary for Evergreen is updated.

Join DIG to help keep a glossary updated.

Add to Glossary:

Bib Source: Can control how the record displays in a shared environment. 

Text of page on July 6, 2019 pasted below:


Processes related to ordering materials and managing expenditures

Age Protection

Allows libraries to prevent holds on new books (on a item by item basis) from outside the owning library's branch or system for a designated amount of time.


Open-source web server software used to serve both static content and dynamic web pages in a secure and reliable way. More information is available at http://apache.org.

authority record

Records used to control the contents of MARC fields.

Balance stop percent

A setting in acquisitions that prevents you from making purchases when only a specified amount of the fund remains.


The code attached to the item. This is not the Circulation ID.

bibliographic record

The record that contains data about a work, such as title, author and copyright date.


Processes relating to reserving cataloged and non- bibliographic items.


This is a container of items. See also Record Buckets and Item Buckets.

Call number

An item's call number is a string of letters and or numbers that work like map coordinates to describe where in a library a particular item "lives."


The database of titles and objects


The process of adding materials to be circulated to the system.


The process of returning an item.


The process of loaning and item to a patron.


The process of loaning an item to an individual.

Circulating library

The library which has checked out the item.

Circulation library

The library which is the home of the item.

Circulation limit sets

Refines circulation policies by limiting the number of items that users can check out.

Circulation modifiers

Circulation modifiers pull together Loan Duration, Renewal Limit, Fine Level, Max Fine, and Profile Permission Group to create circulation rules for different types of materials. Circulation Modifiers are also used to determine Hold Policies.


see Item

Distribution formulas

Used to specify the number of copies that should be distributed to specific branches and item locations.

Due date

The due date is the day on or before which an item must be returned to the library in order to avoid being charged an overdue fine.

Electronic data interchange (EDI)

Transmission of data between organizations using electronic means. This is used for Acquisitions.

FIFO (First In First Out)

In a FIFO environment, holds are filled in the order that they are placed.

Fund tags

Tags used in acquisitions to allow you to group Funds.

Funding sources

Sources of the monies to fund acquisitions of materials.


Allocations of money used for purchases.

FRBR (Functional Requirements for Bibliographic Records)

See Library of Congress FRBR documentation


The exclusive right for a patron to checkout a specific item.

Hold boundaries

Define which organizational units are available to fill specific holds.

Holdings import profile

Identifies the Import Item Attributes definition.

Holding subfield

Used in the acquisitions module to map subfields to the appropriate item data.


Integrated Library System


Inter-Library Loan

Import item attributes

Used to map the data in your holdings tag to fields in the item record during a MARC import.

Insufficient quality fall-through profile

A back-up merge profile to be used for importing if an incoming record does not meet the standards of the minimum quality ratio.


The actual item.

Item barcode

Item barcodes uniquely identify each specific item entered into the Catalog.

Item Buckets

This is a container of individual items.


The communications protocol used for client-server message passing within Evergreen. Now known as XMPP (eXtensible Messaging and Presence Protocol), it was originally named "Jabber."

Juvenile flag

User setting used to specify if a user is a juvenile user for circulation purposes.


Kids' OPAC. Alternate version of the Template Toolkit OPAC.


Library of Congress Control Number

Loan duration

Loan duration (also sometimes referred to as "loan period") is the length of time a given type of material can circulate.


Acronym for Machine Readable Cataloging.The MARC formats are standards for the representation and communication of bibliographic and related information in machine-readable form.

MARC batch export

Mass exporting of MARC records out of a library system.

MARC batch import

Mass importing of MARC records into a library system.


Framework for working with MARC data in a XML environment.

Match score

Indicates the relative importance of that match point as Evergreen evaluates an incoming record against an existing record.

Matchpoint ID: 

Minimum quality ratio

Used to set the acceptable level of quality for a record to be imported.


Items that have not been cataloged.


Acronym for Online Public Access Catalog. An OPAC is an online interface to the database of a library's holdings, used to find resources in their collections. It is possibly searchable by keyword, title, author, subject or call number. The public view of the catalog.


Acronym for Open Scalable Request Framework (pronounced open surf). An enterprise class Service Request Framework. It's purpose is to serve as a robust message routing network upon which one may build complex, scalable applications. To that end, OpenSRF attempts to be invisible to the application developer, while providing transparent load balancing and failover with minimal overhead.

Organizational units

Organizational Units are the specific instances of the organization unit types that make up your library's hierarchy.

Organization unit type

The organization types in the hierarchy of a library system.

Overlay/merge profiles

During a MARC import this is used identify which fields should be replaced, which should be preserved, and which should be added to the record.

Owning library

The library which has purchased a particular item and created the volume and item records.

Parent organizational unit

An organizational unit one level above whose policies may be inherited by its child units.


Provide more granularity for copies, primarily to enable patrons to place holds on individual parts of a set of items.


A user of the ILS. Patrons in Evergreen can both be staff and public users.

Patron barcode / library card number

Patrons are uniquely identified by their library card barcode number.

Permission Groups

A grouping of permissions granted to a group of individuals, i.e. patrons, cataloging, circulation, administration. Permission Groups also set the depth and grantability of permissions.

Pickup library

Library designated as the location where requested material is to be picked up.


A popular open-source object-relational database management system that underpins Evergreen software.

Propagate funds

Create a new fund for the following fiscal year with the same parameters as your current fund.


Vendors from whom you order your materials. Set in the Acquisition module.

Purchase Order (PO)

A document issued by a buyer to a vendor, indicating types, quantities, and prices of materials.

Quality metrics

Provide a mechanism for Evergreen to measure the quality of records and to make importing decisions based on quality.

Record Bucket

This is a container of Title Records.

Record match sets

When importing records, this identifies how Evergreen should match incoming records to existing records in the system.

Recurring fine

Recurring Fine is the official term for daily or other regularly accruing overdue fines.


Used to roll over remaining encumbrances and funds into the same fund the following year.

Shelving location

Shelving location is the area within the library where a given item is shelved.


Acronym for Standard Interchange Protocol. SIP is a communications protocol used within Evergreen for transferring data to and from other third party devices, such as RFID and barcode scanners that handle patron and library material information. Version 2.0 (also known as "SIP2") is the current standard. It was originally developed by the 3M Corporation.


Acronym for Search & Retrieve URL Service. SRU is a search protocol used in web search and retrieval. It expresses queries in Contextual Query Language (CQL) and transmits them as a URL, returning XML data as if it were a web page.

Staff client

The graphical user interface used by library workers to interact with the Evergreen system. Staff use the Staff Client to access administration, acquisitions, circulation, and cataloging functions.

Standing penalties

Serve as alerts and blocks when patron records have met certain criteria, commonly excessive overdue materials or fines; standing penalty blocks will prevent circulation and hold transactions.

Statistical categories

Allow libraries to associate locally interesting data with patrons and holdings. Also known as stat cats.


Template Toolkit (TT)

A template processing system written in Perl.


Evergreen's Template Toolkit based OPAC. The web based public interface in Evergreen written using functionality from the Template Toolkit.

User Activity Type

Different types of activities users do in Evergreen. Examples: Login, Verification of account


MARC Batch Import/Export tool original name.


the unique name associated with a specific computer.


Acronym for eXtensible Markup Language, a subset of SGML. XML is a set of rules for encoding information in a way that is both human-readable and machine-readable. It is primarily used to define documents but can also be used to define arbitrary data structures. It was originally defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).


The open-standard communications protocol (based on XML) used for client-server message passing within Evergreen. It supports the concept of a consistent domain of message types that flow between software applications, possibly on different operating systems and architectures. More information is available at http://xmpp.org. See Also: Jabber.


The XML Path Language, a query language based on a tree representation of an XML document. It is used to programmatically select nodes from an XML document and to do minor computation involving strings, numbers and Boolean values. It allows you to identify parts of the XML document tree, to navigate around the tree, and to uniquely select nodes. The currently version is "XPath 2.0". It was originally defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).


Yet Another Organization Unit Setting


An international standard client–server protocol for communication between computer systems, primarily library and information related systems. See Also: SRU

6.3. Sample Training Outline

Below is a sample training outline for an in-person training session best taught in a lab where everyone can have their own workstation and also see a screen shared by a presenter.

You can download a formatted copy of the outline and exercises below. 

(Note: the passwords and barcodes used in the sample worksheets will not be active on the test servers.  They are created before each training session.)

Morning Session:

  1. Staff Client Overview
  1. Registering a new patron (Shift F1)
  • Creating a new account.
  1. Patron’s Account
  • Searching for a patron’s account (F4)
  • Searching by name/address/phone etc.
  • Searching by patron’s barcode
  • Overview of a patron’s account
  • Editing a patron’s account
  • Renewing an expired library card
  • Replacing a lost library card
  • Resetting a patron’s password
  • Testing Password/Verify Credentials
  • Merging Patron Accounts
  • Patron Buckets
  • Groups
  • Make an account inactive
  1. Check Out (F1)
    1. Checking out with a library card
    2. Special Due Dates
    3. Editing a due date
    4. Checking out items currently in circulation
    5. Checking out items not in the catalog (Example ILL)
    6. Checking out non-cataloged items
  1. Renewing
    1. By item barcode (CTRL-F2)
    2. By patrons account (F4)
  1. Check In (F2)
    1. Checking in items
    2. Backdate check in

Afternoon session:

  1. Special Circulation
    1. Marking items lost
    2. Marking items claims returned
    3. Editing due dates
  1. Billing:
    1. System Generated Bills vs. Grocery Bills
    2. Creating a bill
    3. Bill Details
    4. Making Payments
    5. Annotating Bills
    6. Voiding Bills
    7. Bill and Payment History
  1. Holds
    1. Placing a hold from the staff client
    2. Placing a hold from the patron’s account
    3. Pull List
    4. Capturing Holds
    5. Cancelling Holds
    6. Suspending holds
    7. Edit pickup library
  1. Miscellaneous Fun
    1. Item Status
    2. Memorial Bookplates
    3. Show last few circulations
    4. Mark item damaged
    5. Cancel transits
    6. Marking items missing
    7. Patron notes, alerts, and messages
  1. Offline Transactions

7. Configuring Notices

7.1. Sending Email Address

Migration Requirement:  You will need to have a sending email address for notifications.

Your location will need to establish the email address that you would like to have as the sender for notifications sent via email.

(Note, yahoo is known not to work--it is a best practice to have an email provider where you have more control.)

This is also the address that will receive bounced messages (I believe.)

Some locations like to add this address as a cc to all sent messages so they can track or watch what emails were sent to customers too.

More Detail:

Emails and SMS/Text messages in Evergreen are sent by email. 

The customer inputs their email or phone number/provider on which to receive text messages.  

The messages are created in Evergreen and then packaged as an email.  The emails are then delivered to the Equinox mail server which hands them off to the local library's email provider's system.

The provider's email system then sends those to the patron's email address or SMS email address, based on the cell carrier.

Example: The email would be delivered to 5555555555@vtext.com (where the provider is Verizon).  (Side note: cloudfilter.net is the mail server for the vtext.com email address.)

It is the local library email server that converts the email to the text message and delivers the message to the phone.

Every email provider has their own email servers.

Equinox does not deliver the email directly to the customer, they deliver it to the provider's email server.

The local email server does checks and determines where to send the email. If the email was a yahoo email we would deliver the email to a yahoo mail server who would then locate the e-mail address and deliver that email to the individual. cloudfilter.net is the mail server for the vtext.com email address.

So our email server delivered the email to their email server. As far as I can tell we only delivered one message to there email server. Their email server then delivered the email to the customer. To me it looks like their email server was not sure the email was delivered successfully so kept on delivering the email.

Analogy for Further Understanding:  Think of the email servers like cities. When you send regular mail from PA to CA, the mail goes to the local mail distribution center where they are sorted by location and then sent to another mail distribution center where they are further sorted and eventually sent to city mail distribution center where they are sorted by address and given to someone to deliver to the address on the mail. The provider's email server is like the city distribution center.

7.2. Select Notification Triggers

During your move to SPARK on the Evergreen ILS, you will be asked which notices you would like to have configured.

Standard "migrations" include a specific number of notices that our vendor helps you to configure, but others can always be added.

Notices are generated based on Triggered Events that happen in the software.

PaILS encourages the Following Notices as a best practice:

  • Welcome Message: Registering a new patron triggers this message typically sent via email.  If there is an email address, the email will be sent within 5 minutes of the time you save the account.  This is your library's chance to send a heartfelt Welcome to Your Library Services and connect with patrons who use online services.  It's a good practice to tell patrons about the features of their account in this message, including a place to update their History preferences and check their accounts online. Empower your patrons with email addresses to manage their account easily.  The welcome message can be custom for juvenile or adult patrons and can include a library card number too. 
  • (Variation on Welcome Message when Request Library Card feature is actively promoted:  Have both print and email:  Set up your trigger to send when Pending Patron is accepted, and use the generated print notice send them a library card number via email and a letter with a library card which will verify the address for you.)
  • Courtesy Notice:  Sent as a Reminder via email at an interval you choose in number of days BEFORE an item is due to be returned.  With this notice you can encourage a person to renew or return.  Not typically printed or mailed, so patrons without email addresses don't receive these.
  • Overdue Notices:  Decide the intervals you want to send these notices and which method.  Some choose email for First Notice at 3, 5, or 7 Days.  Some use email for 2nd notice at 14 or 28 days and some opt for a print notice at this level too.  3rd Notices can be a FINAL notice before a LOST bill is sent, some choose 30, 45, or 60 days for this notice and many do both email and print for this type of notice.
  • Hold Notices:  Decide the text you'd like to send with Hold Notification Messages.  Tell the patron how long the item will be held and how to get it in simple language.

There are many other options that can be set up.  Work with your Migration Team or with SPARK Support to learn more.

Currently, the Circulation Committee is working on a project to create better sample wording on some of the notices.

Tips and things we've learned:

  • Consider which fields of a notice can "auto-populate" from your library/org settings.   Use links to your website and My Account or a link to your policies instead of writing long wordy messages that may not be fully read.   There is a library setting for your website that can be used in a shared notice template.
  • Pay attention to the format you are sending via.  Don't use the same format for an email as you would for a printed notice--your audience may think you are old-fashioned or out of touch.
  • Graphics cannot currently be used on notices, but we would like to enter that as a Feature request.
  • Notices will only be sent one time per notice type.  For example, when the 7 day print notice is sent, if the due date is changed, the 7 day notice trigger does NOT reset to send another 7-day notice based on the new due date.  Instead, the next notice a patron would receive would be the 14-day notice.  The trigger is NOT reset to go back and send the whole set of notices again.

7.3. Print Notices

Below are instructions for a process/workflow to run Print Notices:

(Community Documentation needed?)

7.4. More about Notices

It's time to learn more and have complete SPARK Documentation about Notices.

PaILS and some SPARK Community members are working to create some clear documentation about Notices sent from Evergreen to your patrons.

The Circulation Committee is currently working on project to review some of the Notices and their text.

Soon this page will be populated with much more information for you and by you, with the assistance of our staff and Equinox.

Minor Notes / Things We've Learned:

  • Notices will only be sent one time per notice type.  For example, when the 7 day print notice is sent, if the due date is changed, the 7 day notice trigger does NOT reset to send another 7-day notice based on the new due date.  Instead, the next notice a patron would receive would be the 14-day notice. 
  • The links to print notices can be found here: https://pails.evergreencatalog.com/notices/index.html

8. Settings (basic and detailed)

8.1. Library Settings Editor

On this page, we'll track some of the SPARK default settings in the Library Settings Editor that are used during migration. 

Sometimes, knowing these details helps in a workflow, but sometimes it just adds layers of complication and confusion. 

Most locations simply use the SPARK Defaults for these settings.

  • Checkout auto renew age:  7 Days.  When an item has been checked out for "7" days, any attempt to check out the item to the patron that has it already checked out to will simply renew the circulation without an alert.  
  • Maximum Previous Checkouts Displayed:   "2"  There isn't much of a reason to go back further than that--more weakens privacy, less decreases functionality. 

Take a look at the settings available in the Library Settings Editor.

Administration-->Local Administration-->Library Settings Editor

It is a very long list.

SPARK and the Migration Vendor discuss which settings libraries should review and complete during migration. 

The attached file will be updated with recommended settings and notes about when/why a local library makes a custom setting. 

SPARK Support keeps a copy with most current updates.

8.2. Set your Calendar

Use the Closed Dates Editor to ensure that items are not due on days when your locations are closed.

This is a step you will want to assign someone to do on an annual basis for your location.

8.3. Group Penalty Threshold

Your location will consider settings to block a patron from transactions based on items out, fines owed, or other limits you set as not to exceed thresholds.

You can set these for each patron profile type or be simple and set them at User or Patron level to govern accounts of all profile types or they can be set at different permission group levels.

When migrating you will consider these settings:

Max Checked Out Item Threshold: What is the maximum number of items that an account can borrow at a time? 

will display message
Patron exceeds max checked out item threshold
Some locations set this at 50, some set it at 999.  This is a local decision.  SPARK support recommends 500 set at the User Level.

Max Items Overdue:  How many items can an account have overdue before it is blocked?

will display message
Patron exceeds max overdue item threshold
Some locations set this at 25, some set it at 999.  SPARK support recommends 500 set at the User Level.

Fine Threshold:  What is the maximum amount of fines/billings on an account when you block from renewal or more borrowing?

will display message
Patron exceeds fine threshold
Some locations set this at $5, some at $500.  This is a local decision.  SPARK support recommends no fines, and setting this for $500 at the User Level.

This setting can be used to generate notification action triggers to tell patrons when they have exceeded fines.

How to View/Adjust These Settings:

These settings are adjusted via Administration -> Local Administration -> Group Penalty Thresholds.

You can see all the different penalties on the Administration -> Local Administration -> Standing Penalty Types screen.  

The Block list is explained here: http://docs.evergreen-ils.org/reorg/3.2/staff_client_admin/_standing_penalties.html

Equinox does not recommend changing anything on the Standing Penalty Types screen without talking about the possible ramifications.

Downloads: A sheet of Group Penalty Thresholds in SPARK at end of 2019.

9. Public Relations / Marketing for Your Transition

9.1. Collection of Ads and Handouts for Migration

Here is a collection of promotional materials including sample press releases, newsletter articles, bookmarks and more that libraries have used in the past to communicate with patrons about their migration.

Thanks to Rose at Pike County, who collected these and sent to PaILS Support Staff to post them as an early contribution to the SPARK Community.

10. Cash Handling Procedures

10.1. Collecting money at your desk: Evergreen Role

Evergreen documentation is here:  http://docs.evergreen-ils.org/2.11/bills_and_payments.html

and here: http://docs.evergreen-ils.org/reorg/3.0/staff_client_admin/_working_with_money.html

Evergreen is used to track fines and fees; this is set up in your policies.

Evergreen can also be used to track other items your library may sell, through "grocery" transactions.

Evergreen can be set up to collect PayPal or credit cards.



  • Some libraries use a cash register, but connecting this to Evergreen software to open/close the drawer is cost prohibitive to most.
  • If you library has a great cash handling procedure to share with the SPARK Community, please do.
  • The amount libraries collect in fines isn't always worth the limits to access it can impose on our neighbors.  Save staff time and energy for what matters.  Ask about being a FINE FREE location.
  • Consider your policy on fine collection in a Resource Sharing environment: If you get to keep the money you collect from anyone who wants to pay "fines" at your location, but other libraries get to keep yours too, are you willing to do that, for the convenience and access of the patron?  (Or, is there a threshold, say, anything less than "$25" takes more time than that to mail.) 

Wow, the SPARK Community is so cool.  Check out this presentation given by our members at the Evergreen International Conference.

Or download slides below.

Migration Preparation

1. Test Server Tasks

Shortly after your migration begins, a complete extract of your data must be completed.   This is arranged in multiple ways, depending on where you data is now and how it is accessed.

This test load is analyzed and code is written to move it into the shared SPARK Evergreen database.

When the data is loaded, your library receives access to a Test Server, which will include your data, among the snapshot of data from other SPARK libraries.

This testing period is your chance to see where your data landed.  

During the test period, make comparisons of items and patrons and transactions from all service locations, collections, and shelving locations too.  Make sure each field of data appears where and how you expect it to appear.  You will report errors (bad diacritics?) or omissions (missing records, missing checkboxes, etc), wrong field (evening phone in day phone), etc.   (I think there should be specific instructions for what to test.) 

You will get a test load report.

While on the test server, you should also test all scenarios to ensure your policies are functioning as expected.  "Play library" by checking out, requesting, checking in, creating bills, and doing all of your regular workflows to ensure that you have learned the system, and that it functions as you believe it should.   The time needed for this step is unpredictable, as it is largely based on how complex your policies are, how many different shelving locations, item types, and circ mods you use, and other factors.  At minimum, testing for 1-2 hours per day is a possible need during the test period. 

At this time, report everything you find to the migration email list and the data analyst on the project will respond.

2. Consider for Migration

Preparing new libraries to join an Evergreen consortium

Steps to a Successful Membership in PaILS, using our SPARK branded vendor hosted open source Evergreen Integrated Library System software:

Preview the current installation of Evergreen.  Read Evergreen advice about Preparing for Migration.

Online meetings/personal visits to demonstrate use can be scheduled.   

Interested libraries can view support site and learn about the SPARK Community and PaILS Membership or by asking a staff member.

Be aware of the time and skills that your staff team will need to invest in the migration process.

Be aware that this is an exciting time of change and an opportunity to consider NEW policies and workflows.

Confirm that your location has adequate connectivity and hardware to get full benefit.

Note: Working to establish minimum standards--bandwidth for transactions and searches is low. Larger monitors recommended.  Considering regulation that a location MUST have at least one workstation in the location that offers ability to attend online meetings with sound, to talk and screenshare for best online support.  Staff (and patrons) need access to remote view and talk technology to take full advantage of library technology.  Could new workstation be included with migration costs?)

Learn about PaILS

Understand what the PaILS membership agreement means. 

Consider what roles you and your staff will play in the SPARK community.  

Make sure your library is a fit for the organization and its mission/vision.  We're more than just an ILS--we're the SPARK Community.

Outcomes of migration to the Evergreen open source ILS:

  • Staff persons employed in your organization will understand how the software will receive and store your bibliographic records, item records, patron data, and transactions.  
  • You will change the way you may have thought about policies and workflows in the past, in order to make best use of the software's design and capabilities and your human capital resources and collections.  
  • Community of PA Libraries who all use the same system will make an impact on statewide library card concepts and larger coalition resource sharing.

PaILS promotes access for patrons and empowerment for staff.  This means: Collections in people's homes instead of locked in the library, re-consideration of fines/fees/limiting loan periods as a cost of library service, patron privacy understanding, effective use of time--automate manual actions where you can.  We promote Resource Sharing.  Time, talent, physical, and digital resources can be shared so we all have more. 

We do provide on-site training, and host sessions in person from time to time, but a primary way to engage in the community is via online tools that allow screen viewing and conversation via internet connected technologies.  We're listening to feedback about how it is working.  Bite-sized videos and quick guides are a part of our training strategy.

Before Signing a Letter of Intent:

Note: Consider Who should sign?  Suggest commitment by Board of Trustees to endorse a resolution supporting Resource Sharing.  Require one committed person per ORG unit.  Require one person at each location to be trained on how to control access to staff accounts/workstation setups at each service location.  

The actual PaILS Membership Agreement signer will be the person(s)/organization who pays the invoice for Membership. 

Provide Information on a worksheet (to be created) including: Current ILS, Provider End Date, Barcode Ranges in Use for both patrons and items--include anomalies, Number of Bibliographic Records, Number of Items, Number of Patrons/types of patrons.   This data is used to get a cost estimate for your location(s)

Sign Commitment to Review Policies.  (Match to a preferred/recommended policy set, created by PaILS with 4 options for Best Practice Patron Serving Equity and Access based policies.  Need to clarify if libraries can continue to charge for DVDs under the regs.  )

Sign Commitment to analyze/clean/normalize data

Consider Resource Sharing Future ideas.

Understand costs of migration (staff time investment included) as well as what the annual cost will be.

Understand how your current staff job descriptions may change.  Examples: How will the role of the person who currently manages ILS software change?  Who will serve User Group and committee roles.  How do cataloging responsibilities change in a shared bibliographic database?   Consider the changes you will make and who will be responsible for the work of configuring the software and staying current on the software and its changes.  Designate which job descriptions/people will have roles in the SPARK Community.

Analyze Workflows and Make Sure your Written Policies Match:  Use list below (which we can break out into a new doc)

Deeply consider Patron data and what should migrate.  Be aware of (new idea here:) Expired patrons that can no longer be counted as active users by state reporting guidelines will NOT be migrated unless special circumstances are arranged.  Patrons should agree to have their data transferred into the new system--they need to be aware of the change to their account, its access, and its features.

Understand a threshold of acceptable data loss.  This system offers new options for hold notification preference, is it ok if your notification preferences don't migrate--it's good to ask people to update it now that you offer new options anyway...

We all want what is best, so recognize that if mistakes are made, we'll all spend more time fixing it.  We learn from mistakes.

Analyze Patron Registration Process:

Understand your current patron data collection practices and make changes as you see fit to new/different services.

Determine which are Required fields of data (only require those you use...) 

How do you want to handle municipal info / county info / statewide library card patrons? 

Determine if you will honor other SPARK library cards or plan to issue new accounts.

What Patron types will you offer?  (What are the levels of permissions and who gets them?)

What is your process for keeping patron records up to date?

Think about notes/alerts/messages and how/if they should migrate.

Analyze Incoming Library System Workflows in Technical Services including Cataloging of all material types and Acquisitions Workflows:

How many people currently create or add bibliographic records?  (What is their expertise?)

How many people can add copies to existing bibliographic records?

Do you add records for your e-resources?

Do you use a service like OCLC to get bibliographic records or use AccessPA or other z39.50 collections? Which sources do you use?

Look at your Fail File from past AccessPA uploads.  (Share the file you typically send to AccessPA and your Fail File for analysis: tell us your AccessPA code so we can communicate the need to remove your records when you join us.)

How do you catalog/circulate Magazines?

Do your DVDs circulate in sets as a series or in single discs?  (Consider this workflow--can't use Monographic Parts for series DVDs.)

Analyze Incoming Library System Workflows, Collections Mapping, and Circulation/Holds Policies and Notifications:

Workflows of Circulation or Front-Line staff : Describe any workflows that your front-line staff perform on a daily basis. Examples may include :

  1. Do you have a public holds shelf separate from behind the counter?
  2. Do you have a courier service/system for sharing materials between branches? Please describe the set up and schedule.
  3. Do you have a workflow for taking monies for services, ie. printing, faxes, holds pickup, etc., and please describe.  (This will help set up billing types)
  4. Do you have a separate check-in station for material returns?
  5. Self-check station(s)? (If not, can you consider adding one with Evergreen's self-check interface?  Privacy for patrons, especially in rural communities)
  6. Any unique or out of the ordinary duties that front-line staff perform for their patrons?
  7. Do you have special populations or collections that need special attention?

Circulation: Describe the way your patrons currently circulate your materials, including as much detail as possible. Share your written policy.

  1. Please tell us who can circulate which materials, for how long, how many items at a time or check out thresholds, and the amount of any fine billed to the patron in the event the items become overdue.   Is anything different for patrons outside of service area? 
  1. Utilization of grace period before overdue fees begin to accumulate?
  1. Do fees cap out at item price or another amount?
  1. What is the fine threshold before a patron is blocked from checking out materials, using public computers, etc.
  1. Which materials are renewable, how many times, and is that the same for every patron?
  1. Do you have patrons who cannot circulate certain materials (such as patrons with Internet only accounts)?
  1. Do you waive overdue fees if patron is paying for lost or damaged materials? Do you allow for replacement items for lost or damaged items?
  1. Are certain patrons/staff exempt from fines?
  1. Any Rental fees involved with any media/dvd or loan types? If so, how much?
  2. Are there materials that circulate for less time than others, such as new books? What is the circulation period for those materials, how many times can they renew, and how do you distinguish them from other (older) materials (e.g. different shelving location)?
  1.  If you have technology, such as e-readers or laptops, can patrons check them out? What are the rules?
  1. Do you check out things like headphones, games, etc.? What are the rules?
  1. Do you have any non barcoded (non-cataloged) items that you share with patrons like honor collections or paperback exchanges?
  1. Are there kits or other groups of items that circulate in a special way?
  2. Do you want to use Evergreen to count programs or program attendance?

Holds: Please describe the way your patrons can currently place holds on your materials, including as much detail as possible.

  1. Which types of materials are holdable/not holdable?  What can transit outside of locations?
  1. Are there certain patrons who are not allowed to place holds on any/specific materials?
  1. Please describe any hold limits currently in place? 
  1. Are there any materials (holdable for your patrons) that you would prefer to prevent from resource sharing with the consortium?
  1. Are any technology materials (e-readers, laptops, etc.) holdable?   Also consider special loans like Attraction Passes.  What are the rules?

ILL and Resource Sharing: Consider your plans for Resource Sharing. 

Share your current workflow for ILL.  Consider how it will change in this system.  (SPARK has a committee working on this.)

Are you adding resource sharing partners or do you plan to within 6 months?  Do you want to open your collection for patrons of other libraries so yours can have access to theirs?

What are the policies for items you loan to other libraries via ILL?

Notifications:  Determine the text and method of sending (email if avail, Print if no email) for all triggered notifications:

  1. Welcome Message:  When new patron is registered.
  2. Soon to Expire Message:  When patron is 30 days from expiration.
  3. Check-out Receipt: (via email?)
  4. Hold Ready Notice:
  5. Courtesy notice (2-3 days before due?):
  6. 1st Overdue: day after due date?
  7. 2nd Overdue: week later?
  8. 3rd Overdue: 2 weeks
  9. Items going to lost: Bill (is this mailed or emailed?)
  10. More... etc:  

After Signing Letter of Intent

After these steps above are completed and documentation is provided, your migration will be scheduled on a timeline that is mutually agreeable by PaILS Staff, our vendor provider, and member library locations.

Commit to a positive attitude towards change.  (Need to find more Change Management resources so libraries can prepare their staff to also embrace change.)

Migration Start Date Assigned:

Go Live Date Assigned:

Announcement to SPARK Community about your plan to Go Live.  Give Welcome Letter from User Group.

Timetable/Schedule sent out and time blocked by Local Library Staff, PaILS Staff, and Vendor.  PaILS staff and Equinox will set things up based on written policies. 

Send letters to neighbors of intended change to let them know of your plans. 

Start of Migration: 

Assign accountability for tasks to be completed by the Migration Team.  Understand the roles. (We need to clarify with Equinox and new members at tiered levels.  Strategy for Human Capital Management is an area PaILS is exploring.)

Again: Commit to a positive attitude towards change.

Determine your Name / SHORTCodes under best practices. 

Complete Organizational Unit Settings:  Fill in all information needed, such as hours, addresses, contact information, and all fields on the Library Information URL.  Names should be well considered in terms of conflict with others--less use of L for library and S for system when possible--focus on uniqueness of naming conventions. 

Complete PaILS Contact sheet:  Roles:

  • Settings and policy adjustment
  • Bibliographic data or collection items
  • Patron data
  • Transaction Data (things that happen at a public desk)
  • Billing Contact:  Who should we mail the Bill to? 
  • User Group Representation for vote:
  • Who wants to have a launchpad account to submit development interest? 
  • Technology Contact: Who is in charge of making decisions for network connectivity, web browser settings, and acquiring operating systems/hardware?

Marketing to neighbors and community begins.

Review calendar.  Ensure marketing and closed days are planned.  Consider not having items due during a brief period of time to prevent busy days on Go Live.  Know that there will be a short period of time when no items will be able to be checked in during the transition, so make plans for an overload of materials.  Understand that no items will be added during a short Cataloging Freeze. 

Schedule training times for In-Person and Online Training.  (Custom training schedule based on your needs and amount of time available.)   Much early training is done via recorded video (bite-sized trainings) and live online session.

Complete Policy and Collection Mapping Sheets.  PaILS staff and Equinox will set things up based on written policies you previously submitted.

Library exports/or vendor exports or exit services are used:  "Test Load" of bilbiographic database, items, and patrons to vendor; Vendor moves Test Load to test server and library checks data integrity and policy setups on test server.    (All items will transfer, but it is prudent to determine (based on cataloging quality) if all library bibliographic records should enter or only unique bibliographic records.  Clarify which fields will not enter and what data will not migrate: Be sure libraries know circ history doesn't migrate, so your use reports won't be useful for weeding for a while... do dates of last use come over, no. etc.  )

Library gets test server for catalog and can customize OPAC look and feel on the test server.   Library does prescribed testing and reports problems with data that can help to make sure that data when moved to production is correct.

Library gets to preview and suggest customization to OPAC look and feel on the test server:

  • Colors
  • Logo file
  • Links on Top Nav bar
  • Links on Bottom Nav bar
  • Try out the Carousels
  • Make sure OPAC scope is what you want.

Library sets up and tests printers for labels and technical services workflows.

Library sets up and tests printers for receipts and circulation desk workflows.

All SIP2 connections for e-resources are set up and tested. 

Library stops all New item ordering (if using acquisitions in current system)

Existing database freeze for collection items:  Library stops all new item cataloging for a short period before Go Live. 

Circulation Freeze:  Library stops using existing ILS, and uses Offline Circulation in SPARK/Evergreen for "3" days before Go Live.  Libraries cannot "check-in" items during this period, so they will need to plan ahead for storage/carts for 3-5 days of returned items. 


Soft Go Live Day: 

Work into the plan that the library will have the afternoon of the day before new system in order to catch up on back-logged check-ins and holds.

All SIP2 connections are tested and verified. 

Offline transactions can be uploaded.

Go Live Day:

PaILS Staff and Community Member Mentors will be scheduled to be on site.

Some locations may choose to delay opening on the first day they have access to the Production system to spend additional time in testing.

Receive Welcome Letter from User Group with suggestions for your involvement in SPARK Community roles.

Complete steps in GoLive Checklist.

At end of day, get report of daily circulation, total bibliographic records, total items, total patrons for quick analysis.  (SPARK staff should run and send these.) Also get collections/items reports as list in spreadsheet format to identify outliers.  Get patron list export to identify outliers. 

Month of New:

Set up Reports:  PaILS Staff works with Migrating Library to ensure that all report data that is needed is available.

Ensure that all Receipt Templates are what you want.  PaILS starts you with a set of templates, but local folks may want to customize.  

Ensure that all Notices are configured as you wish.  Set/establish a calendar/checklist so you can watch at specific intervals for notices you expect the system to send.  Pay careful attention to lost notices at the interval you set them for... 

Test and make any/all changes needed to the OPAC, including carousels, colors, links, features like "custom text to link to a Purchase Request or ILL form" if no results display, etc.

End of Migration:

Generally, libraries will report issues to the Migration Team and have active support from our data team and vendor for about a month after Go Live Day.   Aim for 2 months instead of just the 1 month--this will allow for more time to identify issues/errors/concerns. 

Sign Off Migration Period and Transition to SPARK Support.

Appendix created by EQ:

This is a checklist of things that a library joining an Evergreen consortium should verify. This is not meant to be comprehensive; instead, it focuses on areas that have caused difficulty in the past when the answers to these questions were not fully known prior to the library beginning the implementation.

General migration needs

  • ●  What is the library's current ILS?

  • ●  What date does the contract with the current provider end?

  • ●  What is the plan for extracting data? ​Note: this is heavily dependent details such as what the current ILS is, whether or not the library or the vendor hosts it, whether Equinox has experience extracting data from that ILS, and the completeness and price of exit services from the prior vendor.

  • ●  Does the library share their source ILS with other libraries? If so, are the other libraries participating in the migration?

  • Data matching considerations

● Are there any patron barcodes that are shared by records already in the consortium?

Note: Given a report of the incoming library's barcodes, Equinox can identify collisions. Depending on how much time passes between a library expressing interest in joining the consortium and actually starting their migration, it may be necessary to check for barcode collisions more than once prior to the kick-off.

○ If there are overlapping barcodes, do they represent patrons using the same cards at multiple libraries? Or do they represent cases where brief barcode numbers are being used?

  • ●  Are there any item barcodes that are shared by records already in the consortium? ​Note: as above, given a report, Equinox can identify collisions.

  • ●  Are patron cards shared by the incoming library and neighboring libraries that are already in the consortium? By neighboring libraries that are ​not​ already in the consortium but may join it?

    Policy considerations

  • ●  Does the incoming library plan to begin resource-sharing with the rest of the consortium upon go-live?

  • ●  Does the incoming library already do resource-sharing with one or more members of the consortium?

  • ●  Will the incoming library need to make significant changes to locations or circulation policy to match requirements set by the consortium?