Collaboration between Polaris and 3M has resulted in a full integration of e-book lending within the PowerPAC or MobilePAC patron interface of the Polaris Library Management System. This integration enables patrons of libraries using the Polaris automation systems to search and access e-books using the same interfaces offered for other library materials.
The availability of MARC records representing the library's e-book collection sets makes it possible to search this content along with other library materials. Polaris has included filters that allow patrons to search all materials, or they can opt to view only e-books. Libraries that subscribe to enrichment services , such as Syndetic Solutions, will also be able to present cover art corresponding to the e-book and print holdings. Unlike other scenarios where e-book lending transactions then take place through a hand-off to an external platform, e-books can be borrowed or requested directly through the library's own Polaris online catalog interface.
The integration with the 3M Cloud Library allows Polaris to present e-books in the PowerPAC or MobilePAC online catalog along with print materials, along with the appropriate services. In other words, print and electronic editions of books will be interfiled in the results listings of a catalog search. Print materials will display the usual status indicators with the ability to place holds or requests for materials that might currently be charged out to another patron. E-books represented in the search will include service buttons that allow the patron to immediately check out the item if it is available or to place a request for notification if no copies are immediately available.
This integrated environment performs an e-book check-out for the patron with minimal effort. Clicking on the “Check Out” button on an available item displays a confirmation page asking “Check out this e-book for your 3M Cloud Library reader?” The title will then appear on the bookshelf of the patron's e-book reader and their account within the Polaris ILS will be updated. As libraries check their account status subsequently, they will see their reading history and status of all the materials that they have borrowed, including both print and electronic and can perform renewals or holds as allowed.
This integrated approach also provides better support to the library for reporting and other management tasks. Lending of e-books can be included in circulation reports along with that of traditional materials, giving the library a more comprehensive view of how patrons make use of its collections. These combined reporting capabilities can help inform decisions and strategies regarding collection development and other operational issues. By bringing e-book lending into the patron account managed by the Polaris ILS, the library is able to offer patrons the ability to place holds on e-books and receive the standard notification of availability. These capabilities allow the library to treat e-books in the same way as they do other materials, rather than to provide access and management through entirely separate processes and infrastructure.
Polaris has been able to create this integration by taking advantage of application programming interfaces (APIs) made available in the 3M Cloud Library. These APIs allow an external developer, such as Polaris, to programmatically access content and execute transactions to bring those features into their own interfaces instead of requiring their users to interact with 3M's platform. Matt Tempelis, 3M Cloud Library Global Business Manager, said, “Creating these APIs is another way of adding value to our service and is an integral part of the way 3M works as a digital e-book lending service.” 3M has implemented the complementary integration in their 3M Cloud Library platform. Library patrons will also be able to search and place holds on physical materials from the 3M Cloud Library interface.
The 3M Cloud Library simplifies the e-book lending scenario by eliminating the need for library patrons to register an account within the DRM environment, such as the Adobe ID on the Adobe Content Server. The 3M environment is able to rely only on the patron's barcode number and PIN already established in their account in the library's automation system to transparently manage an ID on their behalf behind the scenes. As implemented in the Polaris interface, patrons access e-books using their regular sign-in and account features. This new functionality is currently in beta testing will be included in Polaris 4.1, which is expected to be released around June 2012. The partnership between Polaris and 3M is not exclusive. Polaris expects to develop similar integration with other e-book providers; 3M expects to work with other developers of integrated library systems or discovery interfaces.
The 3M Cloud Library moved into production in early library sites on April 2, 2012. Beta development partners are participating along with 25 of the 40 additional libraries that have subscribed to the service. The integration with Polaris will be placed into beta testing in May of 2012, with production use expected by June 2012. 3M also continues to expand the content available, working with additional publishers to add titles that have not previously been available for library e-book lending.