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Director's Column

PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.

The New Look of the Library Online Catalog

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, September 21, 2008


The new revision of the library's catalog has been activated for public use.


Don't worry, it is similar to the previous version, and won't require training to operate.


The update is a result of an online survey performed last spring that attracted over 1,400 responses from people who use the library catalog.


In general, people were satisfied with the system.


The constructive comments related to things that individuals could not find online.


It was evident that many people do not understand "drop down boxes" online, and would prefer things to appear on the opening page without having to search beyond the basics of the system.


It was also clear that the library catalog contained some "library terminology" that is great if you work at the library, but clear as mud to the general population.


So, gathering together all the comments and understanding the limitations that the software places on the programmers, we went to work to change and update the catalog.


The first thing was to change the colors away from the earth tones of the 2005 release.


Everybody does that when they revise online pages.


The opening page is the "General Search" which is now better defined as "any word(s)" from Title, Author, Subject, or Series of the item.


It was clear that most people don't understand the concept of Keyword searching, so this is more defined to the user.


We also changed the term to "Begins with" to define a search in the exact order, rather than "Keyword," or "any word."


Everyone seemed to comment on the need to search for Movies, separate from books or other media.


So, the top line of the opening page lists Movies and Audio Books, which can be searched separately.


For the hearty searcher, the "Expanded Search" is still available to allow combination searches refined by various limits and locations.


For you computer old-timers, that is called a "Boolean Search."


"Browse your library" contains various categories for searches and connections to all of the Caldecott and Newbery Medal Award Winners.


Links are available for the system's iDownloads, books online that can be downloaded into the myriad of handheld equipment in today's society.


Those online books are checked out and "go away" with an encoded date due.


iResources are also available through another link to the Ohio Web Library of online resources.


 Of course, you are searching 5.8 million items contained within 73 libraries in Ohio when you search our catalog.


That is a whole bunch of stuff!


Fifteen years ago, all you got in our library was whatever was showing in those card catalogs of typed cards.


What will you look at in 2023?