YRACUSE, New York, January 12, 2005 -- A consortium of thirty-three New York libraries has chosen the Polaris integrated library system to provide the backbone of its library service, GIS Information Systems, Inc. announced today. The Finger Lakes Library System, comprising Cayuga, Cortland, Seneca, Tioga and Tompkins counties, selected Polaris to replace their fifteen-year old Dynix system.
With a service area that stretches from Pennsylvania to Lake Ontario, Finger Lakes Library System (FLLS) serves a population of 312,189 with a collection of more than 913,000 items. Annual circulation is more than 1.6 million. The consortium chose Polaris because of its functionality, clean client interface and the responsiveness of GIS staff.
A key factor in the decision was the fact that all subsystems are included with Polaris. According to Rex Helwig, FLLS Computer Network Services Manager, the other systems they looked at required separate purchasing of modules such as Acquisitions. "Everyone on our New ILS Committee liked that Polaris came with all the subsystems,” Helwig said. "Even if we don't use everything initially we know we have it and don’t have to find additional financing a year from now to purchase what we need. A trustee at one of our libraries called this "maximal featuring," a term we think describes what we’re getting with Polaris."
In evaluating systems, Helwig said the committee decided to by-pass the formal Request for Proposal (RFP) process and instead focused on 158 important features that they were specifically looking for. Among the most important was what they called "consortium-friendly" -- a system that could filter patron codes that applied just to the individual libraries and accommodate the different ways in which their diverse group of libraries operate. Helwig said they found Polaris to be well suited to the FLLS consortial environment that includes both large and small rural libraries.
Helwig said the committee was impressed with how receptive and responsive GIS staff were to their development ideas. "Some of the suggestions we made will be incorporated into the next release of Polaris," he commented. “This access to the development staff and the way the Polaris Users Group enhancement process works gives us confidence that Polaris will continue to be developed to meet the needs of our member libraries.” He also said GIS really took time to understand their libraries. "GIS thought about our total system and the possible connectivity issues we might have and recommended solutions for us," he commented.
According to Helwig, functionality that the committee members particularly liked in Polaris includes:
- Clean staff client. Color coding makes it easy to know which subsystem you’re in at all times.
- Offline circulation is the same client as online circulation. No additional training is needed to learn to use offline circulation.
- Polaris PowerPAC is a true portal. The libraries will be able to pull in outside information (e.g., weather or news headlines) and can include electronic databases on the same page as their catalog. Patrons will want to come to the library catalog page as their first stop.
- Patrons can opt-in to keep their reading histories. Even with concerns over privacy, many patrons want this capability, Helwig said.
- Patrons can complete a personal profile to be prompted when new items they are interested in arrive.
- Ability to link to bestseller lists rather than maintain these kinds of lists in-house.
"The truth is Polaris wasn't initially on our list of systems to consider," Helwig said. "But we did our homework, we evaluated all systems according to our priorities and the unanimous choice of the committee was Polaris. Polaris has the functionality we need and from what we’ve seen we're confident of a strong and long-term relationship with the GIS staff."
In addition to purchasing the core Polaris product with PowerPAC, cataloging, circulation, serials control, acquisitions and system administration, Finger Lakes Library System also will install PowerPAC Children’s and Spanish Editions. The consortium will use Unique Management Services for collection agency activities. Unique Management is fully integrated into the Polaris circulation system.
The system will run on a Dell PowerEdge 6600 with 140 staff licenses and 100 public access licenses.
About GIS Information Systems
From its beginnings thirty years ago, GIS has served libraries with innovative technology, from its first circulation system in the mid-1970s through its third-generation Polaris integrated library system. Ranked higher by users for the quality of customer support they receive than any other public library system vendor, Polaris facilitates all aspects of library operations by providing innovative workflow solutions packaged in a familiar Windows interface. In addition to its library automation systems, GIS offers workflow analysis, retrospective conversion, database enhancement and network security services to libraries of all types.