Local libraries to introduce faster, friendlier catalog system

Posted: Monday, December 16, 2002

A search for the latest Barbara Kingsolver novel or John Grisham thriller will be easier and faster with a new computerized catalog local libraries are unveiling this week.

Capital City Libraries, a consortium of Juneau libraries, has been installing and training on the system and will put it to work Friday. The system will be used by the Juneau Public Libraries, the Alaska State Library, the University of Alaska Southeast, Juneau-Douglas High School and the Alyeska Central School, said Barbara Berg, electronic services librarian with Juneau Public Libraries.

The new catalog will be more user-friendly, she said.

"I think this is a lot more intuitive, cleaner catalog. It goes faster and most people are accustomed to this kind of interface," she said. "Another wonderful advantage to this, which the old catalog didn't do, is to put a call number on every page, so you don't have to hunt for that."

The new system tentatively is called ORCA, which stands for Online Resources for Community Access. As with the old catalog, it will be found online at www.juneau.org/library.

"We picked this time (to switch) because traditionally right before Christmas it's slower," Berg said. "The university is closed, the Legislature is not here, it's just a nice, quiet time for us to do this."

The new catalog will include links to bestseller lists, award-winning books and what people in Juneau are reading. It also will include general searches for popular categories such as travel, finance and cooking, Berg said.

People still will be able to put a book on hold by entering the number on the back of their library card and a personal identification number into the system, Berg said. Users also can receive an e-mail notice that a book by a favorite author has arrived.

"We've been trying to get people to update their records every time they come into the library, to get them used to the fact that they need to start using their library cards," Berg said. "If they have an overdue book, we'll start sending notices on e-mail. It's more economical for us."

The new catalog is part of a statewide initiative. The University of Alaska Fairbanks already is using a similar system and the Fairbanks public library will be switching this spring. Eventually, the Anchorage Municipal Libraries and the University of Alaska Anchorage will be connected, Berg said. Local libraries have received state and federal grants to make the switch, she said.

Features of the new system

Juneau's libraries are switching to a new computerized catalog Friday.

As with the old system, users will be able to connect to the new catalog online at


During a short transition starting today, people must bring their library cards to

check out materials.

Some features of the new catalog include:

• Links to bestsellers, award-winning books and the most popular books in Juneau.

• Access to book reviews, pictures of books' covers and content summaries for many titles.

• Links to place a hold or renew a book.

• Overdue notices by e-mail. People also can ask to be notified by e-mail when the library receives new books by a favorite author.

• "Find it Fast" searches in popular categories.

George Smith, acting director of the Alaska State Library, said local libraries have been using a shared catalog for years.

"The university, the public library and the state library have had a shared catalog since the mid-1980s and the high school library came after that," he said. "This will be the third-generation shared catalog."

To make the transition easier, library users should remember their library cards this week, Berg said. Because the library will be moving information from one system to the other, librarians won't be able check on holds for the next few days, she added.

"Usually people can show us their driver's license and we don't insist on the card, but for this time, because we don't have any way to look up and see what their number is, they have to have their card in hand," Berg said. "They'll be able to renew things if they bring the book in and we'll check it in and check it out, but we won't be able to look up a number and find out what the book is."

To encourage people to bring their cards and to use the new catalog, the nonprofit Friends of the Library has donated three DVD players and popular DVDs that will be given away in a drawing Jan. 3 on KTOO-FM. People can enter when they check out materials and other library materials.

• Joanna Markell can be reached at joannam@juneauempire.com.

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