|Gaylord Information Systems (GIS) has announced the development of
the Polaris PowerPAC, a brand-new HTML public access catalog that combines
Z39.50 and XML to provide patrons and staff with access to information.
GIS has also announced an agreement with MSNBC Interactive News to deliver
news headlines and article abstracts to libraries implementing Polaris
PowerPAC. In other company news, both the Washington County Cooperative
Library Services (WCCLS) consortium in Oregon and the St. Tammany Parish
Library in Louisiana have purchased the Polaris integrated library system.
The Polaris PowerPAC was developed with emerging tools and Internet
standards such as Internet Information Server. This technology allows the
library to integrate new tools and techniques to remain current with changing
popular Web sites. According to the announcement, the new PAC also offers
customized content that anticipates a user's needs. After choosing an initial
item, a patron might receive suggestions for other books or items, community
events, or Web sites that might be of interest. The appearance and content
of the Polaris PowerPAC home page and its content will also vary according
to the type of patron.
The Polaris PowerPAC also provides several other tools to assist users
in finding materials that accurately reflect their needs. These include
book reviews, tables of contents, relevancy-ranked results, and more. The
new PAC also saves staff time by automatically cataloging Web results in
MARC record format.
Because the Polaris PowerPAC was built on the strength of XML, it allows
libraries and remote users with limited bandwidth to have a positive searching
experience, according to the announcement. The Polaris PowerPAC is able
to retrieve data whenever possible so that it's instantly available for
display by the user. This reduces the load on internal servers, allowing
other Polaris subsystems and library servers to run more efficiently. The
Polaris PowerPAC is also easy to use, so patrons and staff can be up and
running immediately. It will be an integral part of Polaris 2.0, which
will be released this fall.
According to the announcement, MSNBC news headlines will be updated
several times per day using scripts incorporated in the Polaris PowerPAC.
The use of the MSNBC content is part of a GIS initiative to enhance its
traditional Web-based public access catalog with quality information from
a variety of sources. GIS also has an agreement with Baker & Taylor
as part of this initiative.
"We are very pleased with this agreement," said GIS president Katherine
Blauer."Now our Polaris libraries will be able to provide their patrons
with the latest news, business, and sports information right from their
home page. MSNBC is a leader in this area...."
WCCLS implemented Polaris at 15 sites with a combined annual circulation
of more than 5 million items. In preparing to accept Polaris, WCCLS staff
put the system through rigorous testing. In every area, Polaris outperformed
the desired benchmark and in 10 out of 15 areas that were tested Polaris
reported times of less than half the required response time, according
to the announcement.
"With Polaris 1.5, GIS has delivered a system that is highly reliable
with excellent response time and the functionality we required,"
Calcagno, manager of Washington County Cooperative Library Services. "We
are delighted to have successfully completed our acceptance testing and
look forward to continuing to work closely with GIS staff on future product
WCCLS serves a population of 445,000 people. The members of the cooperative
that use Polaris include eight cities, two community libraries run by nonprofit
associations, one library administered by the county, one hospital library,
and one small arts college library. The cooperative has 1.2 million holdings.
St. Tammany Parish Library
The St. Tammany Parish Library is made up of 13 branches, and it serves
80,000 people with a collection of 450,000 items (books, magazines, and
The library began looking for a new automation system 18 months ago.
According to library director Janice Butler, one of the many reasons that
Polaris was chosen was because the staff at GIS listened to its ideas.
"Gaylord's Polaris distinguished itself by offering a true third-generation
product. In replacing a system it is really important to avoid vendors
who will sell new software on yesterday's platform in order to be more
competitive on price. From Gaylord's response, it was obvious that they
were considering our network and hardware environment."
Source: Gaylord Information Systems, Syracuse, NY, 800/272-3414; http://www.gaylord.com/automation.