Syracuse, NY - June 19 – Responding to public libraries' interest in providing more personalized service to patrons, GIS Information Systems introduced today the Polaris personal search agent, an addition to the Polaris PowerPAC portal that helps patrons use library resources more efficiently. The personal search agent allows patrons to save their personal searches to be run automatically at designated intervals and be notified by email when anything new since their last run becomes available. Patrons can save an unlimited number of searches, select the frequency of the runs, and view saved searches through their Polaris patron accounts. The Polaris personal search agent is a feature of Polaris 3.0.
The personal search agent helps libraries to respond to the following types of requests from patrons:
- I know John Irving has a new book coming out in 2003, but I don't know the title and I don't know when. I don't want to keep searching the library catalog for it. How can I be notified when it's available?
- I'm working on a long-term project on the Egyptian pyramids. How can I be notified when new material comes into the library, especially in video format?
- I'm sure the DVD of The Hours will be released sometime this year. Can the library alert me when it's added to the collection?
"The personal search agent is a terrific new service for us to be able to offer our users," commented Barbara Kesel, Automation Program Specialist, Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) in Oregon. "With this new tool we can alert patrons whenever new material of interest to them is added to the collection. As we find ourselves increasingly competing with the services of online as well as 'bricks and mortar' bookstores, it's important that we continue to up the ante by delivering these kinds of personalized services to our users."
WCCLS, a consortium of 15 libraries with 6.5 million transactions projected for this fiscal year, served as the beta test partner for Polaris 3.0. "With this new release, it is easier than ever for us to add the new technologies that patrons desire into our existing Polaris framework," Kesel said. "The team at GIS has made things more efficient for librarians by making the system do more, such as providing a single method of authentication to electronic resources and integration with virtual reference services at multiple search points. Links to NoveList build on the links to other content providers such as Syndetic Solutions and The Content Café to make the library catalog more appealing and exciting."
"Libraries are looking for creative ways to deliver more service to their increasingly demanding patrons," said GIS President William Schickling. "The personal search agent allows them to deliver a customized service that helps position the library more strongly against other information sources. Our goal with Polaris is to deliver a portal that not only connects to all the library's resources but also provides enhanced functionality to library users. We are achieving this by working with partners as well as by building sophisticated capabilities into our software."
Additional Highlights of Polaris 3.0
In addition to the personal search agent, Polaris 3.0 includes major enhancements in every subsystem.
- Integration with EBSCO's NoveList and Informata's The Content Café. Subscribers to these services can present their patrons with readers' advisory content as search results are retrieved.
- Expanded virtual reference integration. Version 2.1 of Polaris introduced links to an interactive session with a librarian at the foot of every page and provided links if the patron's search retrieves no hits. Now with Polaris 3.0 patrons will be able to view a history of their reference sessions through their Polaris patron account.
- Patron authentication to e-sources. From the public catalog, patrons can select a link to a subscription database and Polaris will automatically provide the required database authentication details to the provider. The flexible administration tools in Polaris will enable libraries to define new e-source targets as needed.
- Patron reading history. The library can determine if this option is available and how long the history will be kept. If the library provides this service, the patron can see a list of all items he or she has checked out. The patron can also choose to not keep this history, or to stop keeping it at any time.
- Group hold requests. This new feature allows the patron to place a single hold on multiple titles so that any one of the titles can fill the hold request.
- Unicode support for Arabic, Hebrew, and CJK. Polaris will support the input, storage and display (right to left) of these non-Roman character sets.
- Extended ordering capabilities. Polaris 3.0 includes new acquisitions functionality for donations, depository agreements, blanket orders, approval plans, subscriptions and memberships.
About GIS Information Systems
Headquartered in Syracuse, New York, GIS is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Provider and the developer of the Polaris integrated library system. From its beginnings as a division of Gaylord Bros., the company has for more than twenty-five years served libraries with innovative technology, from its first circulation system in the mid-1970's through its third-generation Polaris system. Ranked number 1 by users for the quality of customer support they receive*, Polaris facilitates all aspects of library operations by providing innovative workflow solutions packaged in a familiar Windows interface. The Polaris staff client offers a complete solution for acquisitions, collection management, cataloging, circulation, interlibrary loan and serials control. The Polaris PowerPAC extends this innovation to the end-user by providing a fully customizable library portal to the library's catalog and other library resources, including enhanced bibliographic data such as book images, tables of contents, and reviews. With embedded metasearch capabilities, patrons can search the library's catalog, the web, other library catalogs and Z39.50 databases at one time using one common interface. Today more than 300 libraries use Polaris every day to serve the information needs of their communities.
In addition to its library automation systems, GIS Information Systems, Inc. offers workflow analysis, retrospective conversion, database enhancement and network security services to libraries of all types. Thirty percent of GIS staff is composed of professional librarians. More information is available via telephone 800-272-3414 and at www.gisinfosystems.com.