The largest library consortia in the country coming soon to a library near you!

Edwardsville, Illinois – July 26, 2012 -- Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) has chosen Polaris Library Systems of Syracuse, N.Y., to provide its next ILS system.  On Wednesday, Leslie Bednar, Executive Director of IHLS met with Bill Schickling and Jodi Bellenger of Polaris to sign the contract.

Illinois Heartland Library System covers 28,141 square miles in the southern half of Illinois. It is comprised of four former library systems (Lewis & Clark, Lincoln Trail, Rolling Prairie, and Shawnee). Before the merger on July 1, 2011, staff members and the LLSAP4 Working Group had already begun working on merging four separate automation systems into one.  Early next year all of their automated libraries will share the same database and catalog to become THE largest library consortia in the country: SHARE (Sharing Heartland’s Available Resources Equally) powered by Polaris Library Systems of Syracuse, N.Y.

The LLSAP4 Working Group, a group consisting of the four LLSAP managers and four directors from member libraries, reviewed and evaluated 7 vendor responses and chose 2 top finalists – Polaris and SirsiDynixSymphony. The demos were held at the Keller Convention Center in Effingham so the 2 top finalists could showcase their products to the membership. Members were able to attend either in-person or via live streaming, which was also recorded for later viewing by any IHLS automation member.

Polaris not only met the software requirements, but exceeded the expectations of what IHLS was looking for. “I think that one of the things that really impressed me with Polaris is that they have a fully functional web-based client. Their interface is very user friendly and very intuitive. It was also very clear at the Demo that their entire staff was familiar with the software and could answer difficult questions. However, the thing I love the best is Polaris' Inventory tool! It is awesome and I can't wait to implement it after we go live.” – Esther Curry, Assistant Library Director, C.E. Brehm Memorial Public Library District

“We are looking forward to our relationship with a software developer that puts the end user [library patrons] first.” Leslie Bednar, Director IHLS “It will be wonderful to see our member libraries and their patrons benefit from that relationship with Polaris.”

“We are excited about the opportunity to partner with and provide support for IHLS libraries and their patrons.” Bill Schickling, President and CEO, Polaris Library Systems.

Approximately 450 libraries belong to the IHLS SHARE automation group. Patrons of those libraries will have access to almost 10 million books, DVDs, CDs, and magazines from any other library in the SHARE system. The online public catalog will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

IHLS and Polaris are now working together on the schedule for the migration of library records from the current systems (elCat, GateNet, LINC, and SilNet) to the new platform (SHARE) and will schedule staff training early in 2013.

“When we began the merger process of the 4 heritage system libraries into the Illinois Heartland Library System two years ago, one of the things we promised was an integrated catalog and the ability to share materials across the entire single system. We have now accomplished the signing of the contract for Polaris and look forward to the implementation of the product for our system libraries in the spring of 2013. We are on our way!” Karen Bounds, IHLS Board President, Librarian, Centralia High School

“We accept this implementation won't be without its hiccups so it is a great feeling to know Polaris is dedicated to ensuring this product works the way we need it to. Their suggestions from the time of demos in regards to how the infrastructure could be better managed, the dedication of the team they put together to bid, the staff we have worked with at preliminary meetings, etc. All of it makes me believe that they are in this to make it work.” Jill Pifer, Director, Fairview Heights Library

More information on the software migration can be found on:

“In the words of Henry Ford ‘Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.’ The merging of the four southern systems was our beginning. Deciding to have one LLSAP was our progress.  With the selection of Polaris, we have reached success and look forward to the continued success of SHARE.” -Diane Yeoman, Director, Mason City Public Library District & Librarian, Illini Central School District #189



About IHLS:  Illinois Heartland Library System (IHLS) is one of two multitype regional library systems in the state.  IHLS covers 28,141 square miles, and serves 585 member libraries: 41 academic, 229 public, 259 school and 56 special libraries.

IHLS was created by merger on July 1, 2011, bringing together the four library systems in southern and central Illinois:

Lewis & Clark Library System in Edwardsville
Lincoln Trail Libraries System in Champaign
Rolling Prairie Library System in Decatur 
Shawnee Library System in Carterville

IHLS provides delivery, automation (online catalog software), and talking book services, as well as certain grant program services, such as the Cataloging Maintenance Center and WebJunction Illinois.


Library systems are established by state law (75 ILCS 10/, the Illinois Library System Act). Funding for Illinois Library Systems is provided through the Illinois State Library and the Secretary of State, with funds appropriated by the Illinois General Assembly.








Bill Schickling, President and CEO, Polaris Library Systems and Leslie Bednar, Executive Director, Illinois Heartland Library System







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