Getting Started

You can search the library’s online catalog from a remote location or from a computer in the library. Your library may offer many additional features; for example:

The library catalog software has been tested with common operating systems and browsers. If you have problems using the online catalog, contact your library.

The online catalog pages use JavaScript™, which may need to be enabled in your browser to display the pages properly. If so, you will see a message at the top of the page when you first access the library catalog. Check your browser settings to enable JavaScript.

See the following topics:

Page Features

Your library determines the first page you see when you connect to the library Web site. Many libraries provide a link on the library home page to access the online catalog. Other libraries use the library catalog main page as the home page. The main catalog page offers links to library information, searches, and other features.

Main menu - Main menu options such as Search and My Account are near the top of the page. Click a menu option to see choices related to the option.

Cover images - Your library may display a picture of a book in the center area. The pictured book is taken from current best-seller lists, and changes every time you return to or refresh the portal page. You can click the picture to search for the title in the library catalog, and if the title is not found, a form is displayed so you can ask the library to purchase it. Or you may see a rotating series of cover images that represent materials in the library catalog. You can click any image to search for the item in the catalog.

Sides of the page - At the side of each page you may see lists such as new arrivals and seasonal items. Click the plus sign + to expand a list. Items on the list are often links. For example, you can click a title on a new titles list to search for the title.

RSS Feeds for New Titles

Real Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds publish links to content on a Web site. If your library provide RSS feeds from the New Titles list, an orange RSS icon appears on the list at the side of the page. To view RSS feeds, you need an RSS reader, such as SharpReader, My Yahoo!, or Bloglines. The list is updated hourly to show new materials at the library, and the results are sent to your RSS reader. You can click a link to launch a search for the title. (Click What’s RSS for more information about how to set up RSS feeds and where to find readers.)

Click the orange RSS icon to list the RSS feeds. If you have a Windows-based reader such as SharpReader, you can drag the orange XML icon for each feed you want to your reader. If you have a Web-based RSS news reader such as My Yahoo!, copy the URL for the feed and paste it into the appropriate field on the RSS setup page for your Web location. See your reader’s instructions for specific procedures.

Internet Explorer 7.0 and later includes an RSS feed reader. If you click the XML icon or the URL for a feed, a page opens where you subscribe to the feed in Internet Explorer. If you prefer to use a different RSS reader, copy the URL for the feed and paste it into the reader’s setup page.

Your feed will supply new titles for the system or branch to which you are currently connected. See Switch Branches.

Select a Language

To select a language other than English, if your library offers a choice, place your cursor over Language at the top of the page to display the list, then click a language. The pages are displayed in the language you selected. You can select a different language at any time during your session, without losing your place.

Switch to Large Text

To switch to a large print version of the catalog, click Large Text at the top of the page.

Switch Branches

To change the library to which you are currently connected, click the arrow symbol by the Switch to another branch list at the top of the page, and select another library from the list. When you switch to another branch, the page appearance and available features may change. If you switch to another branch while you are searching the catalog, the main page is displayed.

Return to the Home Page

To return to the home page, click Library Info or the library’s logo image at the top of the page.

Timeout Warning

A timeout warning is displayed in an alert box 30 seconds before your session is due to time out. (Session timeouts usually occur because there has been no activity on the computer for a significant length of time.) The session countdown timer continues while the alert box displays. If you click Continue session, the alert box closes, the session timeout clock is restarted, and you remain on the current page. If you do not click Continue session, when the session timeout limit is reached, the alert box is automatically closed, and the session ends.

Protect Your Privacy in the Library

If you are logged in to a library computer, click Log Out on the My Account menu or under your name at the side of the page. Otherwise, click Library Info or the library’s logo image to end your session.

Identify Yourself as a Registered Library User

To use some features, you identify yourself by logging in. You log in by typing your library account barcode number and your password. Your library may allow you to set up a user name for logging in, instead of requiring the barcode number.

Some libraries require you to log in each time you need to identify yourself. For example, you may log in to request a hold, and log in again to view your library account. At other libraries, you log in only once, and you remained logged in until you log out.

If your library provides the single log-in feature, you are logged in for your entire session the first time you use a function that requires log-in. You can also log in for the session by selecting Log In/Register from the My Account menu. See Log in using your library account information.

Log in using your library account information

To log in for your entire session:

If you are working in the library, you may be required to insert a card in a reader and type a password or PIN to use a library workstation. After you log in to the workstation with your card, you may be automatically logged in to Polaris. To log out of Polaris only, but remain logged in at the workstation, click Log Out under your name at the side of the page, or click Log Out on the My Account menu. To log out of both Polaris and the workstation, remove your card from the reader.

  1. Click Log In/Register in the My Account menu. The log-in form is displayed.
  2. Type your barcode number (from your library card) in the Barcode Number box. Your library may require all or only part of the number.

Your library may accept a user name instead of the barcode. To set up a user name, click Create username.

If you have an account but have never had a password, you may be able to set up your password online. Click create a password. If you need a password but do not see the create a password link, contact the library for assistance.

  1. Type your account password in the Password box.
  2. Click Log In.

Your name and the Log Out link are displayed at the side of the page when you are logged in. If you have saved title lists, they appear under My lists.

  1. Log out by doing one of the following actions:

Logging out protects your privacy. If you are using the online catalog in the library, be sure to log out.


Your library may provide a secure connection for any functions that require your library account barcode and password. The lock icon in the status bar indicates a secure connection. You may receive a security alert message when you first select a function that requires transmission of personal information. You can click Yes to proceed.

Failed Log-in Attempts

The library may limit the number of times you can attempt to log in without success. At the first attempt, the system starts timing the attempts to log-in, and a warning message appears at the first unsuccessful attempt. When the limit has been reached or 5 minutes have passed from the first attempt with no successful log-in, a message appears and you must wait 5 minutes before trying to log in again.

Email a question to a librarian

Your library may allow you to send a question to a librarian by email from the catalog, and receive a response by email. You may need a barcode number or user name and password to use this feature.

To email a question to a librarian:

  1. Click Ask Us on the Library Info menu.
  2. If a log-in page appears, type your library account barcode or user name and password in the appropriate boxes, and click Log In.

Your library may allow you to send a question without logging in. If so, you can click Guest on the log-in page to go straight to the form where you type your question.

The Ask Us form is displayed. If you logged in, the top part of the form shows information from your library account. If you clicked Guest to open the form, no barcode field is displayed, and your personal information is blank.

  1. Type the email address that should receive the response in the Your email address box. Your email address must include the @ symbol and a period (example:

You can also supply the date by which you need the response, and (if you did not log in) your name and your telephone number. This information is optional.

  1. Type your question in the What is your question area, and click Send. Your question is sent by email to library staff at the library listed at the top of the page. A staff member responds by email or telephone.

If you see your name and a Log Out link at the side of the page, you are logged in. Be sure to click Log Out before you leave the computer.