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Polaris Refreshers

Polaris Refreshers 2014

Keyboard Shortcuts - The Polaris client is built in the Windows environment and leverages a lot of keyboard shortcuts to enhance library workflow.  You don't need to master them all to reap benefits, so try one today!

Most beloved shortcuts from the classes:


  • F2 (Check In)
  • F3 (Check Out)
  • F9 (Toggle between Patron Status and Patron Registration)
  • CTRL+SHIFT+A (Karate Chop)
  • CTRL+ALT+F9 (Item Find Tool)


You can find the updated Keyboard Shortcuts Appendix here.

First Available Date - You can find the FAD in the Source and Acquisition view of the item workform (the $ icon). Additionally, find this date on the Statistics Tab of the Properties window. Access Properties by hitting F8 when you are in an Item Workform. 

Find Tool Tips - You can use the Item Find Tool to search for items using the First Available Date.  Set the Search by setting to First available date.  The find tool will change to allow you to select dates.  By default, the From and To dates will be today's date (this screenshot was created on 08/01/2014, so the dates were the same).

Example:  In the North Arlington Public library, all books on the new shelf are taken off after 6 months.  On the first of each month, the staff performs a search to find all their items with a First Available Date of 6 months ago (February, for this example).  In addition searching by the first available date, the search is also limited by the assigned branch of the items, so that only North Arlington items are returned.

As a final step, the staff puts all of these items into a record set, to facilitate locating the items to be pulled off the shelf and to bulk change the item loan period/renewals.  You can send items to a record set from the Settings tab.  Check the checkbox, provide a name for the new record set, and perform your search.

Try this at your library and discover a new form of record set making fun!

Record Sets - Are you utilizing these at your library?  A highly useful tool!  Across all the classes, record sets are being used for such activities as:

  • Changing New NonNew
  • Withdrawing
  • School Summer Reading Lists
  • Holiday Books
  • Easy Access to Museum Passes

Curious about how your colleagues are using records sets?  Post your own ideas and inquiries to PolarisShare@bccls.org

PolarisShare - Share your expertise with and gain insight from your colleagues at BCCLS!  This listserv was created as a forum for you to communicate what you are doing and best practices at your library.  It hasn't seen much use lately, but is still a great option for sharing with other BCCLS staff.

Placing Requests - Bibs aren't just for babies.  They are the preferred level at which you should be placing requests as well!  This applies to bulk loans as well.  You can find the Bulk Loan Procedures cheat sheet here.

If you are currently placed item/copy level requests for your book club, take a look at the title level procedures, paying special attention to the Tip on page 3, which outlines a series of keyboard shortcuts.  Placing book club requests is one area where utilizing keyboard shortcuts can greatly increase efficiency/speed of work.

Denying Requests - Rather than deny a request, items should be modified accordingly if they are unable to fill hold requests (missing, high demand, damaged, etc.).  If your library does not fill requests for Courtesy patrons, denying the request is the most appropriate option.

Denying should be used rarely, if ever.  Most often, you will cancel a request (this is when Polaris wants to hold an item but you say “no”).  Be sure to reactivate the request in the subsequent pop up so that the patron will receive the title from another library.

Lost Items – The pop up that occurs when checking in a lost item can surprise any staff member.  You can find the handout examples from the class here.

The key to dealing with this pop up is to step back mentally and take stock of the situation.  Why are you checking in this item?  The choices you make for the Overdue column will depend on the situation (does it make sense to charge the patron the overdue or waive it?).  If the item is Lost & Paid, the Replacement charge should always Leave as is.  If the item is Lost & NOT Paid, then you have to make a decision to Leave the charge on the patron's record or Waive the charge, depending on why you are checking in the item.

Borrower's Cards - BCCLS policy states:

“Since the home library is liable for materials borrowed by its patrons, it is expected that BCCLS libraries circulate materials only to patrons presenting a valid library card. Libraries may not circulate materials to out-of-town patrons who fail to present a valid library card issued by a BCCLS library or a participating Open Borrowing library. Presentation of a library card to borrow library materials, or for any other library functions requiring presentation of a card, constitutes representation that the presenter is the legitimate card holder. BCCLS libraries are entitled to request identification from any patron presenting a library card.”

There are a couple important considerations for this policy.

  • If you have a scanner that can read smartphones or are willing to look up patrons via alternative methods in your library, please explain to your patrons that these are local courtesies and the physical card is still required at libraries outside the home town.
  • Patrons may not use a library card belonging to another person.  If your library utilizes the Association function in Polaris to allow patrons to either pick up each other's materials or to use each other's cards for checkout, please explain to your patrons that these are local courtesies and special privileges will not extend to libraries outside the home town.

Notes - When creating a note on a patron or item record, best practice indicates that you include the date, library, and staff initials.  This information is vital to fellow library staff in determining if the content is still relevant and where to turn if more information is needed.  Unless the situation requires lengthy text/explanation, notes are an ineffective method of marking a patron record.  For ease of staff access, free text blocks are recommended over blocking notes.  Remove notes/blocks that are no longer relevant.

TXT Notifications - BCCLS will be implementing TXT notifications on August 19th.  Some patrons have already been set up and will begin to receive TXT notifications in addition to the email/paper notices they already receive.  Refer to the all message sent on July 22nd, which includes a staff cheat sheet for registering patrons for this feature.  An additional email will be sent prior to August 19th as a reminder and a slide added to the public side of the BCCLS home page for patrons.

eReceipts & ORP - Patrons can opt to receive receipts for checkouts, renewals, and payments via email.  This is an option separate from the notices sent for holds/overdues.  In conjunction with ereceipts, Optional Receipt Printing (ORP) can automatically stop the printing of fine receipts or let you choose to print (or not to print) check out receipts. You can opt in to each feature separately. Contact Polaris@bccls.org with questions or to activate for your library.

For clarification, patrons will receive a TXT only for items that are Notices.  eReceipts will send the patron an email only for Receipts.  Reminders are sent to all patrons with an email address on their account.


(email only)


(email, TXT, print)


(print, email)

Almost Overdue



Almost Expired

Hold Pick Up


Inactive Card

Hold Cancelled

Lost Bill (print only)

Paying a Charge

Histories - Polaris provides notification and transaction histories on the patron record.  Notification history for a patron can be found in the General view of the Patron Status workform.  You can access the Transaction Summary on the Account view of Patron Status.  The History view of the Item Workform provides all activity on a particular item for the last six months.  If you need information older than 6 months, you can request it from polaris@bccls.org.  Here is cheatsheet for interpreting the Item History.

New Item Mislink Alert - A new option will be added to the Helpdesk to facilitate communication between libraries when there is a mislink issue with an item.  In addition, the salmon slip for damaged items has been updated to include an option for mislink alerts.

The salmon slip is mandatory, per BCCLS policy.  The helpdesk form is optional.  Another option is to place a free text block on the damaged item to help the item be easily identified when it is checked in at the home library.

Remember, if an item is damaged or missing a piece, it should be returned to the item owning library and not used to fill any requests/holds.

Various & Sundry

When Polaris indicates a record is already open by another library, you are prevented from making changes to a record, but can still view the record.

You can link an item even if the bibliographic record is “locked” by another library.

The item owning library is responsible for tracking down any missing pieces or the patron who damaged the item.  However, if a patron returns an item at your library that is damaged or with missing pieces, the receiving library is in a good position to contact the patron in a timely manner to rectify the situation.  It is good practice to speak with that patron as quickly as possible, as a courtesy to the item owning library. 


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