Skip to content
Updated  by


We understand that many libraries are preparing to re-open or begin offering limited services due to Coronavirus (COVID-19). Click here for Resources to Close Physical Locations.

Innovative Customer Support has prepared a solution in order to help libraries preparing for the next step in their services.  We know that each library is unique and serves a unique community.  Please use this solution to help build the right plan for your library. 

We hosted a webinar to walk through the information in this guide. You can also access the recording of this webinar here:   

Table of Contents

Where to begin:

- Review a list of changes made when the library closed (if you haven't done so already).
  • Review any tickets/emails, either internal or with your Site Manager, that discuss any changes made for the closure
  • Know the proper organization levels where the changes to System Administration were made (System, Library, Branch A, Branch B, etc.)
  • Gather any screenshots/notes/etc. of original settings 
- Determine if the entire library / library system opening at once, or are certain locations opening before others. 
- Determine if the library be offering limited service for a period (e.g. hold pickup, curbside pickup, shelf browsing only etc.).
- Determine if the library have the same hours of operation as prior to the closing, or will it start with more limited hours/days open.
- Determine if the library be quarantining returned items before releasing them back into the collection.
- Subscribe to this solution to receive emails when it is updated.  Similar to Known Issues, we will update the solution comments with a description of any changes.
- Review the "Tips for Reopening the Library" blog post from Alison Pruntel, Manager, Technology & Materials at Fauquier County Public Library
- Connect with other Polaris libraries under the Polaris Forum topic "Considerations for Opening after COVID-19 " (login required).
- We hosted a webinar on May 7, 2020 to walk through the information in this guide. Here is a copy of the webinar presentation: Polaris Resources to Reopen Physical Locations - Webinar Slides
- You can also access the recording of this webinar here: 


Q: How to re-enable notices?

A: This may depend on how the notices were disabled during the closure process. If you disabled the Notices Processing and Hold Notices Processing SQL jobs, these must be re-enabled. If you disabled only certain notices within SA (Administration> Explorer> System> Parameters> Notifications> Notification options) by unchecking boxes, these boxes must be checked to re-enable these specific notices.

If you are unsure on how the notices were stopped, or how to reverse what was done to stop the notice, please submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager.

Q: How to stagger notices?

A: Staggering notices can be helpful to prevent overloading patrons, and/or overloading the library's SMTP service. There are not any settings within Polaris that control the number of notices that go out at once, however, a temporary adjustment in workflow combined with optional setting changes may help. 

When it comes to hold notices, these are placed in a queue to be sent out as soon as an item is trapped for a hold request. Adjusting workflows on checking in items may help prevent hold notices from sending out before the library is ready. For more information on options to stagger or prevent hold notices from sending, please submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager. 

If the primary concern is overloading patrons with multiple notices, such as a patron who might receive an overdue notice, a hold notice, and a fine notice all at once, there is the option to enable Combined Notices. Using Combined Notices will clump all the notices a patron might be eligible for within a single day, and send it to the patron as a single notice. Settings to enable Combined Notices can be found within System Administration under Parameters > Notification tab > Notification Options > Overdue & Bill tab. For further information on using the Combined Notices option please refer to the Help Document titled "Overdue, Missing Part, Combined Notices and Bills", and/or please submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager.

Q: How to enable all notices except for holds?

A: This process may depend on the library's current workflow, and what other settings might be enabled (in particular Auto-Renewal). Please submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager to discuss further options.

Q: How to re-enable notices while preventing the automatic lost processing?

A: The first step to this is knowing how to re-enable notices, if you need assistance with re-enabling notices as a whole please submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager. Otherwise, the automatic lost processing is controlled by the number of days an item must be considered overdue before the patron receives a bill. The easiest means to delay bills from going out and items going lost would be to increase the number of days within the System Administration setting. This setting can be found by navigating to Parameters > Notification tab > Notification Options > Overdue & Bill tab, then increasing the days for the "Notice internal" setting under the Bill section. 

Q: How to stop patron notices for specific branches?

A: This process may depend on the library's current workflow, and what other settings might be enabled (in particular Auto-Renewal). Please submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager to discuss further options.

Q: How to edit the text within notice? (i.e. adding a message regarding the library's operations)

A: In WebAdmin (URL: [yourcatalog]/WebAdmin - log in with Polaris staff credentials), head to Polaris Language Editor. From here, under Product, select "Notices." Search for the text you'd like to edit under "String Contains" (for example, "hold") and edit the notices from there.

NOTE: Notices will have different languages depending on notification delivery method - _M_ for Mail, _EM_ for Email, _SMS_ for Text. 

Q: How to resend hold notices after a closure?

A: This question is directed towards libraries that may have completely disabled Hold Notices through System Administration, but continued to check-in and trap holds while the library was closed to the public. For further information on re-sending hold notices please look at the solution called "Sending or resending hold notices after a long closure" (Solution ID: 200423150522824), and submit a ticket to get further assistance from your Site Manager. 

Hold Requests

Q: How to prevent holds from trapping?

A: If an item is eligible to fill a hold (is checked in at a Responder branch based on the Holds Routing Sequence tables), staff will have the option to hold the item/transfer to fill the hold when it is checked-in. To prevent items at particular branches from being identified to fill a hold at check-in and via the automatic RTF processing, you may wish to remove it as a responder branch in the Holds Routing Sequence tables. If no responder branches are present in the Holds Routing Sequence tables for branch A, no items would go pending or trap at checkin for any hold requests set for pickup at branch A. If branch A is still present as a responder within the Holds Routing Sequence tables at other branches, then items checked-in at branch A may still go pending or trap for holds to be picked up at those other branches.

Q: How to prevent holds from trapping to aid in our goal of quarantining items upon return?

A: Please refer to the solution "How can hold request be handled when the library is quarantining items?" Solution ID: 200424121313289

Q: How to only allow certain locations to be available for holds pickup/fulfillment?

A: To limit which branch locations patrons and staff can select when placing a hold please open System Administration and navigate to: Parameters> Request tab > Holds options> Pickup tab. There is a section called "Pickup branches to exclude in PAC when creating requests", select the branch locations that should not be available for pickup. If you would like these locations to also be excluded from the staff client please select the additional checkbox called "Exclude selected branches in staff client".

Patron Services & Circulation

Q: How to post special hours or closures on the PAC?

A: There are a few different ways to accomplish this depending on what is desired. The primary way of displaying hours and special notices can be done through the Hours of Operation page on the PAC. To modify the content of the Hours of Operation PAC page:

To change hours to closed:

  1. Admin->Explorer->System->Branch->[Branch name]->Parameters->Patron Services->Hours of Operation
    2. Check Closed for each day.

To add an Hours of Operation message:

  1. Admin->Explorer->System->Branch->[Branch name]->Profiles->PAC->Hours of Operation Message
    2. Add message under "Display Text."

You can also use the Portal Custom Content (URL) to display a message on the PAC portal page. The steps to implementing this options can be found in the solutions How to create Portal Custom Content in PAC.

Q: How to waive fines and overdues?

A: See the solution Considerations if your library is temporarily closing .  Additionally, these three links discuss workflows to allow all material returned to be fine free:

Q: How to turn on a Shelving Status?

A: Please take a look at the Solution called "How does shelving status work?" (Solution ID 160930389262465). If you have any further questions please feel free to submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager.

Q: How to put back patron blocks that were previously setup (i.e. eContent)?

A: This will greatly depend on what settings were adjusted during the closure process. It would be best to try and make a list or refer back to previous tickets during the closure to see what was done. If you need assistance with reverting settings back to their original pre-closure state, please submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager.

Q: How to enable Borrow By Mail?

A: This is a licensed product.  If you are interested in enabling this feature, please log a ticket with your Site Manager so that we can apply the license for you.  See the new training video Borrow By Mail or solution "How Does Borrow By Mail Work?" (Solution ID 170825100128299) for more information about the functionality.

Q: What is Outreach? Does it cost extra?

A: Outreach Services was designed for libraries that deliver materials to patrons who are home-bound or otherwise unable to make it to the library. It allows the library to designate Outreach patrons, and keep track of the patron's reading history, topics of interest, and service/delivery dates. Additionally, based on the interests of the patron Polaris is able to automatically suggest titles that may of interest to the patron. For more details on using Outreach Services please reference the Help document titled "Outreach Services Processing". Outreach services is a licensed product.  If you are interested in pricing information please contact your Account Manager at, call the CRC at 1-510-619-3566, or log a ticket with your Site Manager. 

Q: How can we minimize contact with touchscreens at our self-checks?

A: Libraries use a variety of different hardware/software combinations for self-check units, so you may need to contact the self-check vendor for further suggestions. One potential suggestion would be to disable the password/PIN requirement when logging into the self-check for circulation.

If the library is using the Polaris ExpressCheck software disabling the password/PIN requirement can be done through System Administration. Within System Administration please navigate to Parameters > SelfCheck Unit tab > Polaris Express Check Options. Within the ExpressCheck Options on the first tab (called Enable) there is a check box for Require Patron Password for ExpressCheck. Deselect this option to disable the password/PIN requirement. Please note you may need to completely log out and close the ExpressCheck software and log back in before the changes will take effect. 

If the library is using SIP based self-check units, it is possible to disable the password/PIN requirement through System Administration. This can be done by navigating to the Parameters > SelfCheck Unit tab and selecting "No" for the setting "SIP uses patron passwords". In order for this change to take full effect the Polaris SIP service will need to be restarted; if your library is hosted through Innovative please submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager to restart the Polaris SIP Service.

NOTE: Please note: Changing the "SIP uses patron passwords" setting is a universal change to how Polaris processes SIP authentication. Adjusting this setting at the branch level will apply the change for any and all products that use SIP for authentication on that port/branch (i.e. Overdrive, database, etc.). Contact your Site Manager for a list of your SIP ports, and review the connection information you've shared with your  This can also vary between libraries depending on setup, as some libraries might have multiple Polaris SIP Services running in tandem. If you have any questions, or know that your library has multiple Polaris SIP Services running, please submit a ticket to contact your Site Manager for assistance.

Q: How to prevent branches from being overwhelmed if not all locations are open?

A: The answer to this question might vary from library to library; we can certainly try to help with suggestions and/or potential changes to Polaris System Administration. Please submit a ticket detailing your concerns (i.e. holds, check-ins, etc.) to start a conversation with your Site Manager.

Q: How to handle quarantining materials?

A: In light of current events many libraries are asking the question, "should returned items be quarantined before putting them back on the shelf?" Other libraries have already determined that this is something they want to pursue, and are already coming up with plans for when they re-open to the public. While Innovative Support is not able to give guidance on whether quarantining returns is something that libraries should do or not. We do encourage libraries to see what others in the library community are doing, and decide what is best for them.

Listed are some relevant resources to help determine if quarantining returned items is right for your library, and how to physically handle them:

If the library does choose to quarantine returned items, adjusting internal workflows may be the primary focus and solution. However, there might be some adjustments in the Polaris ILS that could help the library reach their preferred workflow goal. Some adjustments could include:

There may be other potential adjustments that could be made within Polaris depending on what the library is looking to do, and how long quarantining items may persist at your location. If you have any questions, need any assistance, or are unsure of any of the potential suggestions above, please submit a ticket to start a conversation with your Site Manager.

During this unprecedented period, we want to assure you that Innovative is here to help. Innovative is operating normally and prepared to continue delivering our services. Our customer support and professional services teams are adept at working remotely and have video or teleconference tools we can use to meet with you.


reopen, re-open, fines, holds, preparing, disaster, OPAC, WebPAC, coronavirus, COVID-19, COVID, emergency, closure

Did this help?