Thursday, September 18, 2008

Living With Polaris

After months of anticipation, it's hard to believe that we've been up and running with Polaris, our new library system, for three weeks. There's been so much to learn, and we've definitely been out of our comfort zone, but things are getting more comfortable every day and we're looking forward to full functionality very soon.

If you find the new system daunting, please talk to us. We're discovering the easiest ways to do things and can show you some tricks that make Polaris less intimidating. We'll be happy to walk you through some of the things we're learning every day. Really, the biggest hurdle is getting used to a new look and more search options. Anything that looks different makes all of us stop and scratch our heads (or worse.) Don't want more search options? We can show you the simplest ways, too. You can also email your questions.

Frequently asked questions:
  • Why do I see everyone else's holdings when I search the Merrimack catalog? Think of GMILCS as one big library and the member libraries as branches. Seeing everyone's holdings shows you what you can borrow, even if Merrimack doesn't own it. Except for DVDs and, in some cases, new books or CDs, you can place your own Holds right online and the items will be sent to Merrimack for pickup.
  • How can I see only Merrimack's holdings? You can restrict your results to view only titles Merrimack owns by selecting the Advanced search screen and scrolling down to the box that lets you search by specific location. When you choose Merrimack, you'll see only titles Merrimack owns, but you will also see who else owns them. You can set this location limit at any of the other Search screen by clicking on Open Search Options and repeating the above steps.
  • How can I see my position in a Hold queue? Polaris doesn't offer this feature. What you can do is view the number of copies and the number of Holds in the catalog. This will give you an idea of how long you might have to wait. Your actual position in the queue doesn't mean much because hundreds of books are transferred between the GMILCS libraries each week, and your request could be filled by any of the other libraries as well as Merrimack.
  • What's my password? Polaris asks for your ID and password when you want to access your account or use an online information resource (database). Your ID is your 14-digit library card number. Your password is the 4-digit PIN you may have selected when you registered for your card. If you don't think you chose a PIN, try the last four digits of your phone number; Polaris defaults to that in the absence of a PIN. If that doesn't work, you do have a PIN/password in the system. The staff can't see it, but we can help you reset it. Just ask.
  • How can I manage my account online? Polaris allows you to do things with your account that Horizon never did! Once you log in with your ID and password, you can view and renew what you've checked out; place, suspend, cancel or reactivate Holds; change your password; select the way you want to receive notices; change your address and phone number (subject to staff review) and opt to keep a list of books you've checked out since Polaris went live.

We want you to be comfortable with Polaris, and we're happy to help with your questions. Let us know what we can do for you!

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