Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Polaris Is Coming!

Alex and I spent yesterday afternoon getting our first real look at Polaris, the new integrated library system (ILS) which will go live for the GMILCS libraries on August 27. Yesterday's training was on the PAC (patron access catalog), which is what you'll see when you visit our catalog, either in the library or from another computer.

Because Polaris operates on the Windows platform, you'll see many familiar features such as pull-down menus, and as you practice searching, you'll find more than one way to do something, just like other Windows applications. Another new feature is "Did you mean..." which "forgives" spelling errors and suggests an alternative. Keyword searching is the default setting, and you can choose what field you want to search (title, author, subject, etc.) with more field choices available than before. You can also choose to browse, search by phrase, or search by exact title or author. Each search screen is accompanied by instructions on how to use each kind of search for the best results.

As with Horizon (our current ILS), you'll be able to view your account by logging in with your barcode number and PIN ("password" in Polaris.) Your existing password will transfer to the new system. If you have a password and have forgotten it, any staff member can assist you in retrieving it. If you have never selected a password (some of you haven't), Polaris will use the last 4 digits of your phone number the first time you access your account, and you'll be invited to change it to a new alpha-numeric password.

Accessing your account will allow you to change your own address, phone number, email address, passwork, and preference for receiving notices. Changes to your contact information are submitted subject to administrative approval. For example, if your address change disqualifies you for a free library card, we will contact you with information about the non-resident fee.

I'll close this post with two reminders. First, if you use the My List feature of Horizon, remember that your list won't transfer to Polaris. To retain it, you must print it out before August 21, then look up the items in Polaris after August 27 and save them in a new list. Second, from August 21 thru 27, we'll be between systems. You won't be able to access your account and there will be limited functionality of the system. We'll remain open and will be able to check items out. No items will be due during that time, and we'd like you to keep anything you have until August 27.

I'll post more about Polaris' great new features in a couple of days.

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