First, the bad news: there will be some downsides starting this month, as two major library systems integrate their catalogs.
For one, readers won’t be able to request books from March 9 through March 16 at the St. Louis County Library or the St. Louis Public Library. (Requests are also known as book holds.)
Additionally, online playlists associated with customer accounts will disappear; libraries recommend printing a copy before March 8.
A few other things to know:
• You will need your library card to visit libraries and borrow books. No new cards will be issued from March 9 to 16.
• New items are only added to the system after March 17th.
• After March 17, you will need to reset your PIN.
People also read…
• The St. Louis Public Library will close its branches on March 17 to test the new system. The online catalog will not be available on March 18, but customers can call to request a book.
• Customers cannot apply for passports or pay fees from March 9 to March 16. And staff members will not be able to save returned documents or delete them from customer accounts.
• The St. Louis Public Library reports that the shared online catalog will go live March 25 and patrons will be able to begin accessing the catalog and their accounts.
Patrons who are concerned about how library services will be affected from March 9-16 should ask questions now.
When the catalogs are integrated, the new system will have several advantages.
• St. Louis County and City library users will have easier access to more things. The combined catalog will contain some 5 million items. (A few specialty items, like tech kits in the municipal system, will only be available to St. Louis Public Library cardholders.) The municipal library currently has some 3.5 million items. The department has 1.5 million.
• Users can have a requested article sent to any library. So if a book is out at the county’s Daniel Boone branch, it can be requested to be picked up, for example, at Carondelet in the city.
• Items can be returned to any library branch, city or county.
• Items purchased will be due in three weeks instead of two.
• Public computers in libraries should still be available from March 9 to 16.
Last fall, a county library spokesperson said the new shared catalog will be made available using Polaris ILS (Integrated Library System), a product of Innovative Interfaces Inc.
The total cost for the two library systems is $298,000 per year, not including one-time migration and implementation costs, said Jennifer McBride, communications manager for the county library. The county system will pay $193,000 and the city library will pay $105,000.
“This amount is less than what each library currently pays for its ILS software,” McBride said via email.
Libraries will also save money by not paying around $25 per item through interlibrary loan under the current system.