As published in the Sedona Red Rock News
Do you remember those old-fashioned library card catalogs? Librarians and thrifters tend to love those old wooden cabinets with lots and lots of drawers and little curved brass drawer pulls. Many of us have them in our homes and use them for art supplies, coffee tables, or jewelry boxes…we just can’t get enough of them. But while we do love them as furniture, we are actually very, very glad that we don’t have to use them to find materials in the library anymore. No more thumbing through thousands and thousands of cards, and no more papercuts and hangnails caused by all that riffling. When it comes to finding items in a library, we’ve come a long way.
Now books are “cataloged” in a library’s ILS—the Integrated Library System. ILS software is basically a giant database that holds listings for all our materials, patron data, and checkout records. The ILS “integrates” the information so we know all there is to know about a book: where it can be found on the shelf, who has put it on hold or checked it out, when it is due, when it’s no longer being used, and when it’s time replace it with something new.
The new container for what we used to refer to as “the card catalog” is what librarians today refer to as the OPAC—the Online Public Access Catalog. The OPAC is the public interface for the ILS, and it makes finding the books, audiobooks, CDs, DVDs—really anything that you can check out from the library—a whole lot faster and easier.
However, all online catalogs are not created equal. As with most things technological, there are good choices and bad ones. Those that are easy to use and those that “aren’t so much.” There are those that still have a user scrolling through pages and pages to get to the audiobook they want and not the large print or paperback version that is listed. And then there’s Aspen Discovery, Sedona Public Library’s new OPAC.
Sedona Public Library, and all libraries in the Yavapai Library Network (YLN), are pleased to introduce this new system. Aspen Discovery looks very different, and much better, from the former OPAC we used. Now, you will have a much better user experience that includes easy, intuitive browsing and straightforward search options.
Upon your initial search, you will see one record that includes all the formats available. For example, if you search for John Grisham’s A Time for Mercy, just one record appears with every available option—the audiobook on CD, Large Print Book, Regular Print Book, eAudiobook, eBook, Kindle, and Playaway. You can easily see if the format you want is “Here” in our Library, if it’s checked out, if it’s available online, in transit, or available at another library. It’s that easy. And if what you’re looking for isn’t in our Library at that time, or if it’s checked out, you can just click the “Place Hold” button, and it will be on its way to you in no time. Looking for an eBook or eAudiobook? You can check it out right from the catalog—no need to go to OverDrive or Libby to make your selection as you have had to do in the past.
In addition, and to make it even easier, you can quickly narrow your searches to a desired format with the icons at the top of the search page. Our new catalog also features personalized recommendations, unlimited lists, the ability to rate and review titles, sharing of title information through email and social media, and easy-to-find series information so you know what to read next.
This new catalog is easy, friendly, fun, and functional. Want to give it a spin? Starting today, our new catalog will appear when you click on “Search Catalog” or “My Account” on the Library’s homepage at sedonalibrary.org. It’s still in beta mode, so new features will continue to be added. You will still have access to the old catalog until January, but I’m guessing that you won’t want to use the old one once you give the new one a whirl. Go ahead—try it today! And if you happen to have an old card catalog sitting around, I know a few librarians that would be happy to take it off your hands!
As always, Sedona Public Library is here for you, working to make your library experience a great one. Please remember your favorite, local, non-profit organization: Sedona Public Library when you make a charitable gift. Simply visit Sedonalibrary.org/donate where you can make an online one-time or recurring donation. Your investment in your library, and therefore your community, is just a click away.
Sedona Public Library
Column for October 29, 2021
Written by Judy Poe, Library Director
Library News appears each Friday in the Red Rock News.