Evangeline Parish Library welcomes digital upgrades

By: HEATHER BOGARD

Lifestyles Editor

After two years of planning and a hurricane-related delay, the Evangeline Parish Library is proud to share its recent digital upgrades with patrons of all branches throughout the parish.

The library has added the Marshall Cavendish database for science and social studies research and the Polaris Library Systems online catalog for searching the collections of the main library and its branches (Mamou, Basile, Chataignier, Pine Prairie and Turkey Creek).

Library Director Mary Foster-Galasso says the addition of these two products will enhance and improve library service and make searching for various topics and titles much easier for library employees and patrons alike. She adds the Marshall Cavendish digital database is wonderful for students and educators who are researching topics for school projects or papers.

Foster-Galasso says the programs were funded through state aid and tax dollars, and the library will pay for the maintenance and updating of the systems. The programs are being leased and must be renewed every year, which will allow for up-to-date reference collections and materials.

The process of selecting which programs would provide the best fit for the library’s needs was a long process. The Polaris Library System was chosen after demonstrations and after the library staff and board carefully evaluated proposals from the library’s top four choices. After weighing the pros and cons of each system, the library felt confident Polaris, a system also used by Dallas Public Library, would best serve the library’s goals and provided the best value for the money. Once the decision was made, Hurricane Gustav delayed the implementation of the system for six months. Once the programs were installed, set up and training began for the library staff.

The new Polaris digital catalog was selected as an upgrade from the Galaxy program the library had been using since 1998. The library’s new online catalog is hosted on a server out of Syracuse, New York, and the Evangeline Parish Library is one of only two libraries in the state to utilize the hosted version of the catalog. Utilizing the hosted program will allow for upgrades provided by Polaris. With the Polaris system, which looks like a simplified Amazon.com type page, searchers can more easily search the library’s collection. They can view topics and titles with more features, such as summaries, detailed searches, related items and photos of the book covers, all which will greatly aid patrons, as well as library employees in researching their topics of interest and in quickly locating items in the library’s collection. They can also search by individual branches, to see which items, for example, are in the branch collection at Mamou. Other features Foster-Galasso is really pleased to offer to library patrons through this program are email notifications for requests and availability of titles and reading history. Those with a library card may use their card to request titles and view their reading history and look up what books they have previously checked out from the library, starting with the date they sign up with their card. Patrons also will be able to renew books online. They can place requests for books and other items online from home with their library card. Foster-Galasso says there are still a few bugs in the program that are being worked on and corrected as everyone becomes more comfortable with the new systems. A site manager will assist the library staff with any problems.

Foster-Galasso emphasizes going digital will also benefit those who do not wish to use computers for their library needs, as the systems will allow staff to more quickly help customers find or request what they are looking for. She hopes for the library to utilize the programs for at least five years. To access the Marshall Cavendish and Polaris databases from your home computer, go to the library’s home page www.evangeline.lib.la.us; then for the library’s Polaris catalog click on “online catalog,” or for the Marshall Cavendish databases for research, click on the Louisiana Library Connection link and follow the directions. To use all the features of either product, you will need to have your library card number. If you encounter any problems trying to access either product, contact the library at 363-1369 for assistance.

Foster-Galasso is pleased with the new digital products and glad to have them operational after the long process of implementing them. She states the upgrades and new systems would not be possible without the support of the state congressmen and representatives and Evangeline Parish tax payers.

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