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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.

Library Card Catalog Now Information Portal

By Alan Hall, Director, PLSJ
Publish Date - Sunday, March 19, 2006

The card catalog remains a strong symbol for a library.  Most libraries today don't even have a card catalog. We removed all of the card catalogs in our library system in 1993 with the addition of the OPAC, Online Public Access Catalog.

Most people knew that the card catalog was what you used to "look up a book," but then uncertainty reigned. Many people carried the card drawers to the desk, and asked, "Where do I find that?" Today's online catalog can be used in the library, or from a computer at home, school, or office.

If you go to our web site at www.steubenville.lib.oh.us and click on the image of the old card catalog, you will be connected to our Information Portal. The Portal has far more flexibility than the old card catalog filled with 3 x 5 cards.

You can start with a "basic" search, which includes the traditional author, title, and subject search of the library's collection, combined with keyword searching. You can move to "advanced" search, which allows you to combine a variety of search selections with format (book, CD, DVD, etc.) with language and location of the item.

Other features include a search of best sellers lists from the New York Times, Publisher's Weekly, Billboard Magazine, as well as special lists including Oprah's Book Club and Harry Potter series.

A newer feature is the Kid's Catalog, which converts the online catalog to something usable for younger people.

"Explore the Library," allow kids to see the library's collection with graphics, with online references for dictionaries and encyclopedias.

"Award Winners" lists the Newbery and Caldecott Award winners for children's books back to 1938, linked to our collection and their availability.

The Buckeye Children's Book award winners, the Horn Book award winners, and winners of the Coretta Scott King book awards are listed and linked on that page.

A Fugitive Facts page provides facts about the local area, from population to elevations of the county.

The newest link to our Information Portal is the Digital Catalog and Download Center for e-books.

There are over 6,000 e-books that can be downloaded from home into your own computer or device to enjoy for three weeks.  Then, they simply go away.

The major difference between the Information Portal and the Card Catalog is that the online system contains the holdings of 68 library systems with 149 outlets in Ohio, and 5.2 million items. Our card catalog only contained the collection of the library building in which that catalog was located. In addition, the online system allows the user to electronically request a title and have it sent to your library for pick-up. Your account information is available online, and you can renew items from home.

Our system has proven so popular that new libraries are being added yearly to the system that began in 1985 as a way to link southeastern Ohio libraries. The Findlay-Hancock County Public Library is the newest "kid on the hard drive" that will be added to the Information Portal.

Like the old card catalog, there is but one thing you need - a library card.