Syracuse, NY (October, 2001) – Gaylord Information Systems (GIS), a division of Gaylord Bros., Inc., has announced the introduction of system-wide metasearch capabilities in its Polaris integrated library system. With Polaris 2.0, GIS becomes the first library automation system vendor to offer fully integrated metasearch capabilities in every subsystem, not just the PAC.
The need to integrate external resources into library automation systems is no longer optional for service-oriented libraries. Today's patrons expect to issue just one search to access information in the catalog, other library databases, the web, and the catalogs of cooperating libraries. Library staff also need these powerful search capabilities to enhance their productivity in cataloging and acquisitions.
“GIS has always been on the leading edge of technology,” said Katherine Blauer, GIS president. “We introduced the first automated circulation system and were one of the first automation vendors to implement Z39.50 when we included it in our GALAXY® system. With the metasearching capabilities of Polaris 2.0 we are again taking a leadership role in library automation.”
Polaris 2.0 delivers the capability to do metasearching in all Polaris subsystems, including the Polaris PowerPAC (the new Polaris Public Access Catalog), cataloging, acquisitions, circulation and serials control. For a cataloger, this capability represents the ability to create MARC records “on the fly.” “Because of the Polaris architecture and the programming we've done, we are able to hand back brief MARC records of web search results, even if the web site isn't Z39.50 compliant,” said Bill Schickling, GIS vice president of Research and Development. “So, a cataloger could do a subject search in Yahoo and all the web sites returned would come back as MARC records, which could then be added to the library's catalog. This represents an incredible time-savings for the librarian who can now instantly add web sites to the catalog in MARC format,” he added.
The Polaris 2.0 search engine was developed by GIS staff to perform metasearches using the Z39.50 protocol that is fully embedded throughout the Polaris software. Unlike other vendors GIS did not import metasearch capabilities from a third-party supplier. “The GIS search engine is state-of-the-art technology that we were able to develop and fully integrate into Polaris because of the expertise of our staff. Other vendors use third parties because they don't have that expertise in house. By building our own powerful search engine we control the development of the search engine – which is the heart of any integrated library system. We also save our customers money because they're not paying us to pay a third party to develop these critical capabilities,” commented Blauer.
With the Polaris PowerPAC in Polaris 2.0, libraries have the option to subscribe to enhanced content services so that book jackets, tables of contents, reviews, etc. display with the titles. If a library subscribes to these services, enhanced content will display with a Z39.50 search of other library catalogs as well, even if those libraries don't provide enhanced content. The Polaris PowerPAC will generate Open URL links to return enhanced content from a Polaris Enhanced Content Server or other 3rd party servers like SFX. “This is a really cool aspect of the way we've designed our PAC and the way we use Z39.50,” said Schickling. “What this means for patrons is consistency of display -- whether they are searching their library's catalog or other catalogs their library has selected they will always see the same type of display. This seamless integration of resources makes it much easier for patrons to find what they need through their local library.”
“The architecture of Polaris allows us to deliver more value to libraries and their patrons,” Blauer said. “We are not just ‘surfing the web' with our metasearch engine. We are evaluating and selecting the best content providers in a wide variety of subject areas and adding value to their sites by providing a Z39.50 interface for that web site. In this way we add value to the content provider as well as to library users.” At the time of initial rollout, Polaris 2.0 will include a collection of web “mega-sites” that have been coded with a Z39.50 interface. The sites, which have been selected based on the searching capability of their data and the credibility and validity of the site, cover a full range of topics suited to public libraries and the needs of their patrons.
The Polaris integrated library system is currently installed in more than 180 libraries. The system features client/server design that supports wireless and thin client technologies; object-oriented programming that seamlessly links items throughout subsystems; three-tiered architecture that facilitates rapid development to adapt to new technologies; and graphical presentations for all aspects of the system, including the application software, operating system and network management facilities. Polaris was developed specifically and solely for WindowsNT/2000 and can therefore take full advantage of all Windows functionality. In addition to advanced metasearching capabilities and enhanced content in the PAC, Polaris 2.0 provides support for EDI X12 ordering, order acknowledgement, and invoicing using the latest standard (the 4010 enhanced standard); Z39.50 searching for authority records; and an interface to Unique Management Services for material recovery. Polaris 2.0 also includes numerous enhancements in all subsystems.
Gaylord Information Systems is a Microsoft Certified Solutions Provider and the 26-year-old software development division of Gaylord Bros., a leading supplier to the library industry for more than a century. More than 600 libraries nationwide use the GALAXY and Polaris integrated library systems. In addition to its library automation systems, GIS offers workflow analysis, retrospective conversion and database enhancement services to libraries of all types. Thirty percent of GIS staff are professional librarians, including GIS President Katherine Blauer.