North Conway Public Library is switching to a new online card catalog system to make finding, reserving and renewing books easier for library patrons.
“Our current cataloging system is hopelessly outdated. The company doesn’t support it anymore, and the system has some bugs by now,” Library Director Andrea Masters said,.
The new system, Apollo, is designed specifically for small public libraries and has won Modern Library Awards’ Best Product of the Year Award for several years in a row.
For patrons, Masters expects the transition to be easy — if not seamless.
As with any online library catalog, the key feature is a search engine that will allow readers to type in the name of an author or title of a book and find the book. But the new system will have a more forgiving search engine than its predecessor, allowing for more misspellings and still returning good “best guesses” for results.
The new display also includes book covers and more information about individual titles.
Once a patron has logged in, he or she can reserve and renew books and request items through inter-library loan if the library doesn’t have them.
People can also bookmark items and save a list to read later, as well as paying overdue fines and make donations on the secure system.
The biggest difference most people will notice is that the catalog will now be available over the Internet — an improvement requested on a recent patron survey.
“A lot of people asked for an online catalog. The electronic catalog we had was for in-library use only. Now, having it online, people can access it 24/7, from home, anytime day or night, every day of the week,” Masters said.
The new catalog will also be linked directly to Overdrive, the downloadable books program that the library participates in. “Therefore it’s important for patron cards to be current and up-to-date; otherwise our patrons might not be able to log into Overdrive until they have updated their library registration information with us,” adds Masters.
The library had already been considering a new system prior to the survey, but needed to find funding before it could be implemented. The North Conway Public Library does not receive money from the town to operate.
“We look and act like a public library, but we are privately funded. We rely on private donations for all our operating costs,” she said.
Grants do help pay for some capital improvements. The majority of the money for the new software, $2,000, came from a grant from the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation. The remaining $1,500 was raised through donations.
As the new system is being put in place, Masters asks patrons to be patient. “We are sorry for any inconvenience and we hope people will bear with us through the transition,” she said.