In an unusual ALA press conference, Gaylord Information Systems (GIS) today announced Pennsylvania-based Montgomery County Library and Information Network Consortium (MCLINC) as the first beta partner for GIS's new automation system, Polaris. According to GIS Marketing Director Chris Kirby, the fact that all three announcements, the development of a new system, the release of that new system, and the partnership with the first beta site, took place at the same press conference makes the unveiling of Polaris all the more impressive.
"The 'norm' for the industry is to have this introductory process take several years," said Kirby. "But Polaris is a unique product, so we wanted to have a unique release, announcing the new software development and the first library partnership at the same time."
GIS President Mike Skiles further explained the purpose behind the quiet development cycle: "We wanted to make clear that Polaris is a new step for the industry, so we deliberately did everything differently. We decided to keep the development to ourselves until the product was ready to go to market. Now it is, and the results are truly extraordinary."
Hilma Cooper, president of MCLINC and a strong supporter of the consortium's implementation of cutting-edge technology, agreed with Skiles's assessment, noting Polaris' seamless, module-free design as an important component in reaching the decision to be the first to test it. "A few of our libraries have been automated for quite some time, but many are not," said Cooper, "What makes this development so exciting is that our 17 independent libraries in 28 locations are going to join forces in a new technology. What's more, the system is so easy for patrons and staff, it will be a simple matter for anyone, even patrons who aren't yet comfortable with computers — to use these resources, and find whatever they need. For a consortium like ours, with 1.5 million titles in the libraries, and an annual circulation of 5 million, that ease of use is impressive."
Installation of MCLINC's Polaris system will begin in March, according to Skiles, and will initially involve 346 workstations and 17 distributed servers.
For more information on Polaris or any other library automation product, Gaylord Information Systems may be reached at 800.272.3414.