Of library catalogs and such

Posted: March 7, 2011 in Library, General, Professional News, Public Libraries, Uncategorized
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We’ve just switched our library catalog over to Bibliocommons, a much more interactive, 21st century social networking-friendly system than our previous catalog – iBistro. It was rolled out to the public around March 1, but we had time to play with it before the inevitable questions started. And dear reader, I am in love!

I’m the sort of reader who loves making lists, very often lists I never refer to again (I have a list of books to be read on a Google spreadsheet, and never refer to it/haven’t updated it in months), but any old list is a good list. Bibliocommons allows the user to make all sorts of lists, those that keep track of books read, books in progress and books to read later (of which I’ll eventually have thousands, I have no doubt). It also allows you to see what other users are reading, what they thought of it once they’ve finished, and what books are on their “to be read” lists.

In addition, like at Amazon users can create lists of suggested reading, such as “My favorite books by institutionalized authors,” or “What I read when my husband is snoring and I can’t sleep (instead of hitting him over the head with a mallet),” etc. Other users can view these lists, and if the subject is one they’re interested in then BAM! here are suggestions for books the list-maker enjoyed and the list reader may, too.

Readers can review materials, suggest audience-appropriate ages, note if there’s anything graphic so more sensitive readers can steer clear if they choose (or adventurous sorts can have a field day), and more.  Did I mention I love it? Because I do love it.

And what’s not to love? Nothing, in my opinion, aside from the ubiquitous learning curve as everyone gets used to the new system. I have heard a few complaints from users, unsurprisingly, as some grew attached to the old, more clunky system and resist the change. Anything new and unfamiliar is bound to elicit some grumbling.  Such is life.

Even I had my share of difficulties at first, and I was trained. Twice, actually! Still, it’s hard picturing in my mind what people are talking about when they call and ask questions. If they’re at the library it’s easier. Then I can perch on their shoulder and see first-hand the nature of the problem. But over the phone it’s challenging, especially if the patron’s terminology/perception is different from what I’m seeing on the screen.

So far all the questions I’ve had have been about the sign-in procedure, which I’ll admit is a little wonky. It took me several attempts to get that settled, myself, because it kept rejecting me (SOB!). So I can identify with that. But once you’re in I found it very intuitive, and a much more  user-friendly system.

A lot of libraries seem to be making the switch to Bibliocommons, at least in the Chicagoland area. And all the local libraries’ patron information is included in our system. That is, when you enter data here it’s visible to all the libraries in the area, so lists can be exchanged between thousands and thousands of library patrons, making it even more fun and useful. Unless you choose otherwise, of course, and make your information private. You can do that, too. But of course I don’t. I shout all my book thoughts from the top of the roof, social network them to death, and spend my life on Amazon.

Is that wrong?

Anyway, welcome, Bibliocommons! If I didn’t say it before, I love you!

And, if anyone wants to find me just search for Algonquin_Lisa and you can peruse my bookish ravings thoughts to your heart’s content. Leave me a message, too, if you’d like. Especially if you have praise to share.

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