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New catalog system full of possibilities for patrons, library staff

New catalog system full of possibilities for patrons, library staff

February 27th, 2019 by Michelle Brooks in Local News

The Librista app allows Moniteau County Library patrons the possibility to browse the cloud-based card catalog, renew or reserve items or sign up for events.

Photo by California Democrat

As the Moniteau County Library sets forth in its first year as a tax-supported entity, the library board has addressed several projects to give the entire library a fresh look.

Outside and in the basement, the physical property has seen improvements to take it another 100 years.

And coming soon, a new website will be launched.

But this week, the library has been enjoying the time-saving benefits of a new automation system.

The previous system was designed to serve schools, making it cumbersome for the library staff to pull necessary data and reports, said Director Connie Walker.

Having an automation system designed for a public library has been a long-held dream, she said.

About 2013, the library upgraded its server, allowing for an online catalog, thanks to a patron's gift. But even that had become outdated.

So library staff met with representatives from two library automation companies and the board approved the bid from Atriuum Book Systems for $4,085.

A six-hour training for all staff was completed Feb. 11, and the system went live Feb. 12.

As of Feb. 21, the library had saved patrons $14,000 compared to if they had purchased the materials on their own, Walker said. That is one of the many new features of the program.

When patrons check out, their receipt is printed — another new addition and perhaps the one most enjoyed by the staff. The receipt includes what titles they have checked out, their due dates and what that individual account has saved versus buying their materials.

Previously, staff would provide handwritten receipts and look up account information individually. Staff also had to enter details for each new title added to the circulation.

Atriuum searches other libraries for the best information, including a book cover image and details about the author, which is uploaded automatically.

Also sent automatically are email or text notices for past-due books or those on-hold ready for pickup — something staff would have to do by phone call or postcard before.

"It frees up to have time to do the projects we've been wanting to do," librarian Erin Ogg said.

The new system also provides a phone application, Librista. From the comfort of a patron's home computer or mobile phone, he or she can browse the cloud-based card catalog, renew or reserve items, or sign up for events.

The catalog search itself is improved. Predictive text helps the searcher identify what he's looking for, even if he doesn't have an exact spelling or title.

"I don't think many looked at the catalog before," librarian Heidi Porter said.

And tabs sort titles by location — online at Overdrive or in print at the library. Before all the titles were listed together, and the searcher had to pay attention to whether it had a blue or red icon to know if it was an e-book or in print.

There's a cartoon version for children to search for their subjects by picture. And staff can change colors, themes and widgets as seasons or interests change.

Another feature allows patrons to scan the barcode of any book and find out whether it is in the Moniteau County Library circulation and what its status is.

"There are so many layers to what this can do; it's really exciting for us," Walker said.