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Library Innovations Shine with Polaris


February 2, 2012 by wcobserver

WASHINGTON COUNTY  — Remember the library catalogue when it consisted of long, narrow drawers with index cards? Well, to paraphrase, “We’ve come a long way, Baby.”

After the wood and paper system there was the Computerized Library System. But earlier this month, the Washington County Library System (WCLS) took a bigger step by introducing an integrated library system called Polaris to its members.

“It is a system that is geared to libraries of our size. It is just going to get better and better,” said Steve Thomas, Washington County Library System Assistant Director.

Thomas said that the main reason for the change is cost, but it also provides services that will free up staff to help patrons and will provide more information about library materials available to the public. Before purchasing Polaris all costs were analyzed and it was realized that $300,000-$400,000 could be saved over 10 years. That savings can be used for books, materials and other products and services.

The WCLS saved $120,000 over the last two years through other cost saving changes and is supported by a millage tax voted in place last fall throughout Washington County. Additionally, the cities mentioned above provide monies for their libraries. WCLS chose Polaris over other systems, because the company added all the extras including an inventory module for better tracking, a home-bound module and a telephone notification system.

Even though there are changes, such as the website looking different, Vicky Mesplay from the West Fork Library cautions patrons to be patient and open to the changes. They will find conveniences such as more detailed descriptions of library materials and user names and passwords that will be easier to remember. Mr. Thomas said over time the public will notice how much Polaris improves the library experience making it quicker, and the online appearance appealing to the eye.

“It just started in January and seems to be running well, but with any new system there will be growing pains, bear with us during the change,” he said.

The six members of WCLS are Elkins, Farmington, Lincoln, Prairie Grove, Springdale and West Fork Public libraries. Additionally, there are two branch libraries located in Greenland and Winslow that are administered from the central office. ​

— Observer Staff



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