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 ‘Sustainable Organization’
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.
The goals of this study and project are in line with BPL’s Compass principles of Community Gathering, Children & Teens, and Sustainable Organization. They include:
1. Enriched library services and user experience
- Improved user services through better access and adjacencies
- Collections thoughtfully presented and accessible to meet demand
- Expanded and improved youth services through reimagined children’s library and teen room
- Expanded engagement opportunities through new functional spaces such as a conference center, “living room,” and potential commercial-use space
2. Improved visitor first impression
- Improved exterior transparency and engagement, with clear paths and intuitive wayfinding
- Reinvigorated entrance and lobby, and connection to the streetscape
3. Positive financial impact for BPL
- Leveraging of public investment with private investment
- Optimal and maximum use of the existing physical asset
- Revenue generation and cost sharing from commercial tenants
- Leveraging benefit of previously-deferred maintenance projects to support library service improvements
Profiles – Byron Rushing, Massachusetts House of Representatives; Trustee, Boston Public Library; Chair, BPL Strategic Planning CommitteePosted on July 21st, 2012 by Gina Perille in Profiles
One of the things that makes Representative Byron Rushing’s work for the library a pleasure is the positive feedback he gets from its users. “If you ask people what they don’t like about the library, there’s very, very little that people say. People love libraries. People use words like that,” he says. “In fact, most of the suggestions I hear are to make the library more accessible and keep it as up to date as possible.”
That, of course, takes money, which prompts Byron to reflect on the library’s role as a public institution. “I think one of the things that people take for granted about libraries is one of the most profound things about them, and that’s that they are public institutions,” he says. “We really have very few public institutions—schools, parks—and there are not many public institutions we have that serve so many and such a variety of people.”
“Think about it,” he says. “When you compare libraries to parks, it’s sort of interesting, because in most parks, you can’t go pick the flowers. You’ll get arrested if you go to some parks and say, ‘Oh what wonderful flowers, I’m going to take some home.’ So think about how remarkable it is to be a library, because we let you borrow the books and the DVDs and even computers. What is so remarkable about the libraries is that they are a real example of a public institution and what it means to be a public institution.”
What it all comes down to is chiseled in granite above the doors of the Central Library in Copley Square: Free to all. “You can’t take that sign down,” Byron points out. “And everyone, when they see that, they know what that means. It means that all of the services of the library are available to everybody. And everyone knows to do that costs money. That’s the remarkable thing about a public institution—the public says we are actually willing to pay money in order for it to be available to everybody. We never want to get to a point where a significant amount of tax dollars aren’t going to the library, because that’s a significant part of what makes it public.”
Still, Byron believes that it’s important to find ways to add to the coffers with private funds. Those public dollars need to be supplemented. The library, like other cultural institutions, has the ability to raise money. A great future source of sustainability is the people who use the library for free, who “love the library,” and would welcome an opportunity to give back.
Underlying all of Byron’s activities on behalf of the Boston Public Library is a strong belief in the library’s robust future. “I’m a library user, I love libraries, and I’ve had an ongoing relationship with various branches over the years as I’ve done work in Boston,” he says. “I think that the library has an incredible constituency, which is bigger than its users, because people like libraries even if they buy books. The major resource the library has for sustaining itself is all the people who use it and love it.”
He doesn’t live in Boston. And by his own description, he’s a “bookstore guy” more than a library user. Then why is the president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Club of Boston active with the Boston Public Library?
To Josh Kraft, the answer is simple. “Education is the great equalizer,” he says. “We all know that, and libraries are free and open to anyone and everyone, which makes them a great equalizer, too.”
The Boys & Girls Club of Boston serves approximately 14,000 children, ages six to 18–49% of whom come from families with an income of less than $27,000, according to Josh. “We try to do as much as we can for kids,” he says. “In order to sustain our ability, we partner with other nonprofits, be it the Boston Public Library or other education-based organizations.”
That partnership can take many forms, such as bringing kids into the library to view a recent Civil War exhibition. And Josh envisions future library-based programs that could help club members gain access to college and apply for financial aid. “Partnerships with other nonprofits will help get more kids into the library,” says Josh.