New Software, Polaris, means access to over 10 million items!

News from Illinois Heartland Library System and the Smithton Public Library District

Over the next few weeks, the Smithton Public Library District will be undergoing some significant changes that you might be interested in.  As you may know, on July 1, 2012, the four automated library consortia in Illinois Heartland Library System, elCat, GateNet, LINC, and SilNet, merged to form SHARE (Sharing Heartland’s Available Resources Equally). SHARE encompasses 427 libraries throughout the southern half of Illinois.

On April 9, 2013, SHARE will go live with a new automation platform, known as Polaris.  Each of the former LLSAPs will change from having over 2,000,000 items in each of their online catalogs to 9.5 million, and from more than 250,000 patrons each to nearly 1,600,000 total.   Several library experts agree, SHARE is the largest library automation consortium in the country, and the Smithton Public Library District is a member!

What does this mean to you?  First, you will need to be patient with your library’s staff, as we all learn how to use our new software.

Second, there will be a new online patron access catalog, where you can search for items you’re interested in, place holds, pay fines, and so on.  The new PAC will be available beginning April 9.  Your library staff will be able to help you find it and learn how to use it.

Third, all of the member libraries will be using an offline version of Polaris from April 1 through 8.  During that time, you will be able to return books to your library, and check books out from your library.  You will not, however, be able to place holds, either at the library or on the PAC.  Arrangements are being made to manipulate due dates and fines so that nothing will be due during the period of offline circulation.

Finally, since the data on holds will not transfer to the new system, the holds function of our current automation systems will be turned off on March 15.  Neither patrons nor library staff will be able to place holds or request items until Go Live day, on April 9.  The library system will continue to fill holds, however, as long as possible, though all holds not filled by March 22 will be cancelled.  If there are items you have not received that you would still like to get, your library staff can assist you in making a list of those items so that they can be requested again in Polaris.

We’re all looking forward to these changes, and we hope that you are as pleased with them as we think you will be!


March 15th – No new holds may be placed.

March 22nd – All remaining holds will be cancelled.  The staff will have a copy of the holds you have placed, but we recommend that you keep track of any holds you have not received.  You will have to place new holds on April 9th, when Polaris goes live.

April 1st through 8th – The Smithton Public Library will begin to use our new software, Polaris.  However, we will not be able to order in items from other libraries or place holds yet.  We will only be able to check in and out items that belong to our library.  Patrons must have their library card to check items out!

April 9th – Go Live Day! Patrons and Staff members will begin using Polaris, with complete functionality.

Please bear with us as we learn how to navigate this new software!  We’re excited for these changes and we hope that this transition is a smooth one! Thank you!

About the author

Smithton Public Library

The Smithton Public Library District is located in southern Illinois, near St. Louis, MO. The library serves nearly 5,000 residents. We hope you visit us soon!