One of Winter ALA's most exciting developments took place even before the exhibit hall had officially opened.
At 8:00 Saturday morning, while most exhibitors were putting the finishing touches on their booths, top officials from Gaylord Information Systems (GIS) were meeting with a select cross-section of the library industry's press corps, to announce the release of Polaris, an entirely new automation system.
"We've always been proud of our GALAXY product," said GIS President Mike Skiles, "and we know that it is still the best choice for many libraries. But we also came to recognize the fact that the market has changed over the years, and that unique needs have arisen. To those who had wondered whether there would ever be a leading-edge technology designed specifically to meet their needs, Polaris is our definitive and emphatic answer."
Marketing Director Chris Kirby stressed Polaris's place in a "family" of GIS products and services. "Polaris is not a GALAXY add-on, and not a GALAXY enhancement, upgrade or replacement," said Kirby. "Rather, Polaris is a different choice, appropriate for different libraries, and it rounds out our offerings so that we can tell any library, in any market segment: 'We have the single solution for your particular situation.' No other company in this business can say that."
Built using object-oriented design and development techniques, Polaris is a distributed, client/server product based on the fast-growing Windows NT operating system. And, according to Bill Schickling, GIS's Manager of Research and Development, those technologies are established and well-appreciated in computer circles, but new with Polaris to the library automation market.
"We used a bottom-up approach that spanned eighteen months," said Schickling."We didn't build the product first; we listened first, for weeks on end, in focus groups with librarians. This process meant that the end result a seamless, module-free product that was built as a whole, rather than having bits and pieces added over time comports precisely with the market's needs."
According to GIS officials, Polaris was designed for all types of libraries, but is particularly well-suited to larger libraries. Polaris is being phased-in over a few months' time, and is now in beta release with a major library consortium. For more information, Gaylord Information Systems may be reached at 800.272.3414.