Build Your Own!

Polaris offers two companion tools to take your library system beyond the bounds of the software written by Innovative.

The first tool is the Polaris API (Application Programming Interface).  Libraries and third party developers can create software solutions that once were the exclusive domain of the ILS vendor.

The second tool is a website maintained by Polaris staff for API users called the Polaris Developer Network.

API Case Studies

The best way to get a sense of what you can do with the Polaris API tool set is learn a little about what some existing customers have done.  Here are a few prominent examples:

Darien Library, Connecticut

An Open Source OPAC on Polaris

John Blyberg is the Assistant Director for Innovation and User Experience at the Darien Library in Connecticut. John was named a Library Journal “Mover and Shaker,” and took first prize in a 2006 “Mashing-up the Library” competition. He is best known, perhaps, for having created the SOPAC Application Suite – an entirely open source “Social OPAC.”

Darien Library has been using SOPAC 2.0 as their online catalog since September 2008. In December of 2010 Darien migrated to the Polaris ILS and rather than move the Library to a new discovery tool, Mr. Blyberg used the Polaris API to connect his SOPAC catalog to the newly installed Polaris system. He said:

Thanks to our staff and team at Polaris, this has been the smoothest migration I have seen anywhere. What’s more, Polaris’s open database and fully documented API have made it increditbly easy to connect Polaris to our SOPAC. (Polaris Library Systems. (2010). Darien Library is live on the Polaris ILS [Press Release] )

Microsoft Corporation Library, Redmond, Washington

Integration into a Corporate Employee Portal

The Microsoft Library occupies a prominent facility at the company headquarters in Redmond, Washington. The Library has an eclectic collection and features space where employees can work quietly, do research or simply relax during a break.

Microsoft uses the Polaris ILS to manage it’s library collection much like a traditional academic or public library. Staff circulate materials as well as shipping them in transit to Microsoft offices both nearby and all over the world.

Searching library materials, however, is one area where Microsoft is very much unlike most other Polaris client libraries. Employees access the Microsoft Library exclusively through the Company intranet – a Microsoft Sharepoint portal.

Microsoft’s Sharepoint Intranet is the one point of contact employees have for interacting with the corporate infrastructure (of which the Library is a part). Using the Polaris API, Microsoft staff easily “plugged in” the Polaris database to the Intranet and created the ability for employees to search materials, place requests, get lists of items checked out and much more – all from their familiar Sharepoint portal.

Hybrid Forge, Alberta, Canada

Creating Commercial Applications for Polaris Customers

Hybrid Forge is one of western Canada’s premier web development and eCommerce Consulting companies with over 30 years of systems and software design, operations and project management, and user interface design.

The staff at Yellowhead Regional Library in Alberta dreamed about having an iPad application that would search their Polaris library system and approached the Hybrid Forge team about taking on the project.  Rather than simply creating a “one-off” project specific to Yellowhead, Hybrid Forge created the Owl iLibrary product which is now available to any Polaris client library.

The Polaris API is fundamental to Owl iLibrary’s success. Hybrid Forge didn’t have to spend weeks or months learning Polaris data structures or program code. The API is a set of very straightforward procedures that simplify communicating with the Polaris system.

Central Library Consortium, Ohio

Integrating Polaris With a Cloud-Based Telephony Service

Wes Osborn is the Executive Director of IT at the Central Library Consortium which serves a six county area and 14 member libraries in central Ohio. Wes used the Polaris API to integrate their library system with the CallFire Interactive Voice Response system – a cloud-based telephony platform. The new service allows library users to call in, list checkouts and renew any or all of those items. The service also alerts them of any materials they have on hold.

Wes said this of the Polaris API:

It is great to know that even as we upgrade Polaris the API functionality will remain consistent and we won’t have to recode our solution unless we’re ready to add new functionality. We’re also glad that the code we developed can be freely shared with other Polaris libraries that might be interested in the same functionality. (Central Library Consortium. (2011). Dial-In Renewal Service for CLC Member Libraries [Press Release] )

 

The Polaris Developer Network

As the Polaris API grew in popularity, two needs became quickly apparent:

  • API developers needed a resource for testing their API work as they created it.
  • We needed a forum where the community of users could share information and learn from one another.

To meet these needs, in 2011 we opened the (virtual) doors on the Polaris Developer Network (PDN). The PDN is a website where customers and third party developers can register for a sandbox account (at no cost). Users with an account login have complete access to the latest documentation, sample files, test utilities and forum.

Visit the Polaris Developer Network