Polaris Library Systems has created a version of its online catalog that offers a distinctively social flavor. Through a partnership with ChiliFresh, the Social PAC brings the social networking features of ChiliFresh Connections directly into the Polaris PowerPAC interface. Rather than layering the ChiliFresh content and social features, as was previously possible, the Social PAC uses behind-the-scenes APIs to seamlessly blend them into the product.
ChiliFresh initially entered the library arena with its Review Engine that provided a database of reviews, written by library patrons, that could be layered into an online catalog, enhancing the basic bibliographic record resident in the ILS. ChiliFresh also offers a collection of more than 8 million book jacket images available for subscription. ChiliFresh Connections is the company's latest catalog enhancement project that focuses in social interactions among library patrons, creating profiles that allow the use of social network features, but within a library-specific community. The ChiliFresh Connections connects patrons with those associated with the same library as well as those affiliated with any library subscribing to the service. Social features include chat, online book clubs, friending and following other members, and creating a digital personalized bookshelf that can be selectively shared with other members.
The partnership between Polaris Library Systems and ChiliFresh blends the capabilities of the Polaris PowerPAC and ChiliFresh Connections. Libraries subscribing to ChiliFresh Connections can insert it into the online catalog of any of the major ILS products. The Polaris Social PAC shifts the point of integration from insertion into the HTML templates of the online catalog to the API level, which represents a more modern and sustainable approach.
This strategy to bring social networking concepts into the interfaces offered by the library is consistent with other initiatives, such as that of BiblioCommons, which can be seen as both a complementary and competitive product. As an alternative to Social PAC, Polaris has also been able to integrate its ILS with BiblioCommons. In most of these cases, BiblioCommons was already in place, with the library implementing Polaris to replace a legacy ILS without disrupting the discovery and Web site experience offered to library patrons. The roll-out of Social PAC gives Polaris an even stronger public interface in this time when libraries seem eager to offer a dynamic library-oriented social experience too their patrons.
See: www.chilifresh.com; www.polarislibrary.com