St. Louis City and County Libraries Integrate Catalogs Totaling 5 Million Items | Books

A catalog of nearly 5 million items – from books to DVDs – will be created next year when the city and county of St. Louis integrate their library systems.

The two do not combine libraries, but they do make it easier for residents to access materials, they said in a press release Wednesday.

If someone in southern St. Louis, for example, wants to borrow a book not available at the city library, they can request it through the new integrated system and it will be delivered to a nearby city library.

Users will be able to use the library card they have and will not need to obtain a new one.

The city and county libraries have been sharing resources for 28 years through a reciprocal lending agreement. City residents could also obtain a county library card and vice versa, but borrowers usually had to travel farther to retrieve materials.

The new shared catalog will be made available using Polaris ILS (Integrated Library System), a product of Innovative Interfaces Inc. A county library spokeswoman said sharing a system would allow the two libraries to ‘to save money.

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.

The new system should be completed in the spring.

County Executive Sam Page and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura O. Jones released statements supporting the company.

“Increased access to these valuable resources will be of tremendous benefit to users of both library systems,” Page said in the press release.

“Our public libraries are a vital regional resource, and this exciting integration will make them even more accessible to everyone,” Jones said.

The county library has 1.5 million items in its collection. The St. Louis Public Library has 3.5 million items, McBride said.

The two library systems have collaborated on certain programs and services in the past, including the elimination of outstanding fines last year. They also offer ways for adults to graduate from high school and earn career certificates through the Career Online High School program, which started in 2017.