New Director Orientation: Evergreen & OWWL

OWWL Principles

  1. One collection, one patron database, one card, many libraries – since 2001
  2. Shared policies for all libraries for cataloging, patron data, data entry standards, circulation
  3. Balance collective needs and individual library needs
  4. Be respectful of other libraries

OWWL Policies

Evergreen Advisory Committee

  • Sub-committee of the OWWL Library System Director’s Advisory Council, composed of 7 members who review and make recommendations for circulation, cataloging, and other issues that impact system-wide OWWL service


  • Patrons cannot checkout materials if their accounts have at $5.00 fines or 5+ overdue materials; Patrons can renew existing loans and place holds
  • Libraries can override these blocks for their own materials
  • Patrons can check out 100 items at one time
    • Most items can be renewed 2 times
  • Renewals are blocked when there are holds on the title or have reached their renewal limit
  • Due dates follow the checkout library’s rules. In some cases, item settings interact unexpectedly with the library’s settings and result in “wrong” due dates – these can be manually adjusted to match their policies
  • Items that are overdue 4 weeks will be automatically changed to “Lost” and billed for replacement

Overdue notices

  • Notice formats include email, print, telephone
  • All patrons with email addresses receive a 2-day pre-due notification and 7-day overdue notification
  • Print and email notices are scheduled for 2 weeks and 4 weeks. The 4 week notice is a bill letter indicating the billed amount.

Fines and Lost / Damaged Materials Payments

  • Any patron can pay any fine at any library
  • Libraries can keep payments for fines regardless of which library owns the materials
  • Payments for lost or damaged items must be forwarded to the owning library with a note identifying which item was lost or damaged. Please note that bills for lost/damaged items can only be forgiven by the library that owned the lost / damaged item.
  • Fines do not accrue when the library is closed (as set in Evergreen)
  • Fines accrue at 11:59 PM
  • Fines are voided when checked in backdated or in Amnesty mode
  • When overdue materials become lost, the maximum overdue fine is voided and replaced with the replacement cost


  • Most items can be requested by any patron for pickup at any library
  • Many libraries hold-protect their new items – for 2 months, new items can only be placed on hold for pickup at their owning library. Holds for pickup elsewhere remain pending until the 2-month period expires.
  • Patrons may place up to 20 holds
  • If a library does not wish to fulfill a specific hold (such as sending materials to a correctional facility), they do not have to


  • Any resident or taxpayer of any community in the PLS service area is eligible for an OWWL card, and can apply for a card at any library
  • Libraries can issue cards to non-PLS service area people at their discretion. There is no standard, system-wide fee for issuing cards to out-of-system patron.
  • PLS recommends avoiding collection of personally identifying information, such as driver’s license numbers, social security numbers, etc. This data should not be entered into a patron’s Evergreen account.
  • Patron accounts “expire” every 2 years. This is to ensure that libraries have up to date patron information.
  • Accounts that have been expired for three years are marked as Inactive
  • Accounts that have been expired for six years are deleted
  • “Home Libraries” are by default the library issuing the account. They are the library where the patron does most of their business, picks up holds, etc., and can be assigned at will. Many reports that look at library usage for planning purposes use Home Library as a basic filter.
  • “My patrons” are generally assigned based on Residency and School District. These are indicated by statistical codes assigned when a record is created or updated. These look at which community and library a patron’s tax support is allocated. Reports that look at circulation statistics for funding purposes use residency or school code as basic filters.


  • PLS reserves the right to not catalog older materials (based on CREW guidelines) and outdated formats (such as VHS)
  • We use a single bibliographic record for various editions of materials when the content is the same (i.e. – trade paperback and hard cover)
  • We use separate records for the same title when the format is different (i.e. – audiobook or print)
  • We use separate records for the same title when the reading experience is different (i.e. – mass market paperback, large print, etc.)
  • We use separate records for the same title and format when the playback requirements are different (i.e. – Blu-ray and DVD)
  • All catalog MARC records are managed by PLS staff.
  • Member library staff manage their own holdings and item records.

Evergreen ILS


  • Circ matrix – controls loan durations, fine rates, renewals, maximum fines for each library by patron type and item type. PLS recommends using standard loan policies.
  • Shelving locations – indicates where items are located in the library. Also used to set circulation, holdability, and public visibility for the entire group of items.
  • Closed days vs. closed dates – Closed Days are regular, year round days on which the library is closed, such as Sundays. Closed Dates are special, specific dates on which the library is closed, such as holidays. Closed days and dates affect loan durations so that items are not due when the library is closed. Fines do not accrue when libraries are closed. Closed Dates must be added at least 6 weeks in advance.
  • Fines – are set by member libraries.
  • Contact to review and/or adjust system settings

Staff client – OWWL Docs > Evergreen Web

  • Check out/in
  • Patron record
  • Notices
  • Pull list
  • Closed dates

Online Catalog

  • My Account tools


  • Email to create a help ticket – preferred method, several people will see this!
  • In staff client: Get Help with Evergreen link (opens the OWWL Docs Evergreen Issue form, which also creates a ticket)
  • OWWL Docs
    • Submit a help request ticket: Get Help menu > Catalog Issue or Evergreen Issue
    • Reference: Evergreen Web contains how-to and informational resources for Evergreen tasks, screens, actions, etc.


  • Dan and Kathryn provide training for Evergreen tasks. Training options include scheduled group classes, on-demand training for a library’s staff, one-on-one, phone assistance, or whatever helps best
  • OWWLUG – OWWL Users Group – regularly scheduled meetings aimed at frontline issues, practical applications of Evergreen and OWWL services


  • Reports types include: statistical, data clean up, collection usage, informational, etc.
  • Available from Staff Client > Browse Reports
  • Email notifications when scheduled reports are available
  • Contact Dan ( for special reports
  • Scheduled reports:
    • Monthly/Yearly circ stats (all libraries combined)
    • Bad Stat Cats
    • Circ by Patron Stat Cat
    • Circ by Shelving Location
    • High Demand
    • List Items by Copy Status
    • List of Lost Items
    • Monthly Circ by Patron Stat Cat – FDA
    • Monthly New Users
    • Old Holds
    • Overdue Shelf List(s)
    • Recent Additions
  • Ad Hoc

Cataloging & holdings maintenance

  • Primary contact: Kathryn
    • Kathryn provide training for any and all cataloging (holdings maintenance) tasks, training options include scheduled group classes, on-demand training for a library’s staff, one-on-one, phone assistance, or whatever helps best

OverDrive and Databases

  • Primary contact: Kathryn
  • OverDrive (Owwl2Go)
  • Niche Academy
  • Ancestry Library Edition
  • NovelNY
  • Local History activities
    • Interest group
    • Digitization
    • New York Heritage
    • New York Historic Newspapers
    • PLS Digital Archives
    • Library Digital Archives

Inter-library Loan

  • Primary contact: Kathryn
  • OWWL materials requested to be sent from one library to another are referred to as “holds”.
  • “Inter-library loan” is a process when no OWWL library owns the desired material, so the library works with PLS to request the material from outside of the OWWL system.
  • There is a $5.00 fee per request
    • The fee is billed to the library by PLS
    • Bills are combined and sent to libraries every 2 months
    • Libraries may re-bill the patron, or absorb the ILL fee
  • ILL request form
  • RRLC Access Cards
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