Boston Public Library
Strategic Planning

The BPL Compass

Posts Tagged ‘Access and Innovation’

Computer Systems Upgrade – ILS Timeline

Posted on December 7th, 2012 by David Leonard in Major Projects, Technology

Here’s what’s happening over the next week and beyond: On Sunday, December 9, the library will stop using the Horizon Integrated Library System (ILS) for most functions – indeed several functions have already been suspended. Staff begin using a limited version of the Polaris ILS on Monday, December 10, for 3 days while the final touches are made to the data mappings along with some record clean-up and de-duplication – after all, the database contains over 15 million records (when you count catalog entries, items, circulations statues, and patron records). This is not a quick process. Please see announcements on the BPL homepage or circulation FAQ page for service changes and impacts.

The new system will fully go live on the morning of Thursday, December 13. While staff have undergone training, we will be asking the public for patience as we become accustomed to the new system. Once we are used to new ways of doing things, we expect that our new ILS will be more stable, faster, and easier to use and thus help us do our jobs in servicing the public more efficiently. Polaris will also offer additional features and functions in the next release, planned for 6 months out, that will further enhance some BPL services. One new feature available on day one is the ability for library users to receive notification via phone, email, and text message, as well as faster circulation processing and more detailed data available in our catalog.

Computer Systems Upgrade – Why a new ILS ?

Posted on December 6th, 2012 by David Leonard in Major Projects, Technology

The current Horizon Integrated Library System (ILS) was selected more than 12 years ago. The BPL is in the process of moving to its new Polaris system. The library had begun the search for a replacement system in 2006, but had put off any decision due to a combination of staff capacity, funding,  and competing organizational priorities. The project was picked up again in late 2009 as the older system inched closer to its hardware and software “end of life” dates, and its lack of flexibility became more and more unbearable for staff. The ILS upgrade was viewed as a major component of broader technology upgrade plans. Requirements were developed and research conducted. This work was ultimately formalized in a City of Boston RFP procurement process leading to a Board of Trustee vote in February of 2012 selecting Polaris as the company and product to replace Horizon. Please look out for a future post on some of the new features that will be available and how they will help staff serve patrons better and more directly.

Computer Systems Upgrade – ILS

Posted on December 6th, 2012 by David Leonard in Major Projects, Technology

The Boston Public Library is counting down the final days to a major computer systems upgrade. The new system from Polaris will replace the 12 year-old implementation of our Horizon Integrated Library System or ILS. The ILS is the system that staff use to run the library, from checking in and checking out books, doing catalog searches, maintaining inventories of items, catalog data, and patron data and helps provide secure access to patrons for other services from wifi to printing and remote access over the web. It is also used for purchasing, acquiring, and processing new books, for filling patron holds and routing books throughout the system. The BPL ILS also services 8 other libraries throughout the Greater Boston Area as part of the Metro Boston Library Network, which also includes several Boston Public School Libraries. For specific information about the migration and its impact, please check here or keep an eye on this blog for upcoming posts with more background information.

 

Profiles – Michael Colford, Director of Library Services, Boston Public Library

Posted on August 6th, 2012 by Gina Perille in Profiles

Michael Colford has many responsibilities at the Boston Public Library, including overseeing the BPL’s role as Library for the Commonwealth, a designation that signifies that the BPL provides services and access to its collections to people across the entire state of Massachusetts. “We have a lot of very rich and deep collections, and access is a very important concern,” he says. “A big part of what libraries do is describe and catalog their materials and make them discoverable.”

For that reason, the library is focused on cataloging and digitizing material in order to make it accessible online. Michael is also taking the next logical step by providing technological equipment and training programs that help to bridge the “digital divide” between the most techno-savvy and those who might not yet know how to use a mouse.

Does that mean that the physical library is becoming obsolete? On the contrary, according to Michael. “The thing I think comes as a surprise to everyone is that people still want to come in to the library and be a part of a community,” he says. “While people are saying everything’s moving online and we’re not going to need the library building any more, that’s definitely not true. People are coming to socialize, to go to programs, to go to events, and to physically interact with the collections. Libraries have a unique role in society. It’ll be very interesting to see how things grow and change.”

Profiles – Julio Chang, Technical Specialist, Boston Public Library

Posted on July 25th, 2012 by Gina Perille in Profiles

If you ever sit down at one of the free computers at the Boston Public Library, you might not realize what it takes to keep those computers humming. And not just the computers available to the public, but also all the administrative technology.

Among those charged with maintaining and updating the library system’s more than 600 computers plus copiers and printers is technical specialist Julio Chang, who has been with the library full-time for more than 15 years. “We try to help patrons satisfy their needs,” Julio says. “Technology keeps moving ahead, and we try to implement these changes in a way that’s easy to use.” That includes providing training for patrons and staff alike.

Julio points out that the library’s computers also offer special services to library patrons. “We get a lot of tourists who use the express terminal to print passes and find directions,” he cites as an example. Julio also enjoys lending a hand directly to library users—such as recently, when a woman had trouble printing a PDF file due to a problem with the website she was accessing. “I was able to go to my office, print off the document from my own computer, and hand it to her,” Julio says. “It’s all about customer satisfaction.”