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.
Posts Tagged ‘Access and Innovation’
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.
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.”
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.”
Profiles – Zamawa Arenas, Principal, ARGUS; Trustee, Boston Public Library; Member, Strategic Planning CommitteePosted on July 24th, 2012 by Gina Perille in Profiles
A native of Venezuela, Zamawa Arenas spent part of her childhood in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where she discovered that the library “mattered to me,” as she puts it. So when she moved to Boston from Venezuela to obtain a Master’s degree at Boston University, “the first thing I did was get a BPL library card,” she says. “It was a place to start connecting with the city.”
Today, Zamawa is the Principal of ARGUS, a Boston-based multidisciplinary communications company specializing in multicultural markets. She has proven herself a far-sighted strategist. For example, prior to ARGUS in 1996, she helped launch the first art-house pay-per-view movie service on the internet—long before the creation of Netflix and Hulu.
Zamawa brought those visionary skills to bear on the Boston Public Library’s Strategic Planning Committee. “The library is doing a great job of being forward-thinking,” she says. “Establishing itself as a venue for digital content is critical for the library to expand and grow.”
To Zamawa, that focus on digitization benefits not only future generations of library users, but also the city’s many different cultural groups. “The demographics of the city have changed dramatically,” she points out. “We need to be mindful of inclusiveness and serving people of all ages and backgrounds. To me, the most rewarding aspect of my involvement with the library is seeing it alive with users and seeing how they enjoy going online.”