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July 2014

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New library catalog, more features, easier to use

Welcome to the new CAFÉ - Catalog Access For Everyone, that is - the countywide shared automation system upgraded online catalog launched at all Waukesha County libraries on Nov. 28. Entering CAFÉ is like clicking through Amazon.com or any online bookstore. There are striking similarities between barnesandnoble.com and CAFÉ.

Like anything new, improved or upgraded, there are learning curves with the catalog update launched. Once past that curve, however, chances are patrons will like what they see, said Mukwonago Community Library Director Nick Weber.

"There is a learning curve for the public and an even bigger one for the staff," Weber said. "Overall it went pretty well. There were some glitches … but overall for the scope of the project it went quite well."

The home page of libraries could show a list of fiction bestsellers, nonfiction bestsellers, most-circulated titles or even a list of books of interest to children.

New features

Aside from the new look, some features of interest include:

A personal reading history

The ability to create reading lists

Saved searches

A streamlined login process

Opting in to receive text messages

Map It! a new feature that provides a visual guide to the location of items in a search results list. The Map It! feature offers all the zoom, pan, satellite and map imagery available in Google Maps.

The combined database of the 16 libraries that are now part of the Waukesha County Federated Library System (WCFLS) contains more than 600,000 titles, 1.4 million items. Mukwonago, Alice Baker Library in Eagle and Big Bend Library are part of the WCFLS.

The look of the catalog is different from what patrons at area libraries are used to, but Weber recommends playing around with the site for 15 to 20 minutes to get comfortable with the new catalog. Weber believes it a much better system than the old one.

The learning curve for library staff is a bit longer. Staff have been learning and becoming familiar with the new system for several weeks at all libraries.

At Mukwonago Community Library, Weber said, staff members generally feel pretty good about the change and are getting back into a comfort zone with tasks done on a daily basis.

Jean Oiles, a staff member at the Alice Baker Library, likes the new system overall.

"I like that it is user-friendly and logical for staff," said Oiles. "There have been a few glitches, but people have been understanding. As big as this whole thing is, it's to be expected."

Alice Baker Library Director Alli Chase said the Eagle library staff has done a good job at learning the system and has been patient during the transition.

"We're happy that it's up with a minimum of glitches," said Chase.

Any problems that pop up are being addressed by CAFÉ staff, Chase added. She credited Mellanie Mercier and Shawn Carlson with CAFÉ for the smooth transition and training.

Chase did notice a dip in circulation during the three weeks when patrons couldn't place holds on titles - but she also noticed more people actually coming into the library during that time.

At Mukwonago, library use is typically down in November, but Weber said circulation is starting to pick back up now. He expects levels to jump back up and probably increase, but it's too early to see the effect the new system may have on circulation.

Book requests have been coming in quickly, according to Chase. She anticipates more books coming in and out of the library as people learn to use the catalog.

Both Chase and Weber think patrons will like the new catalog once they get used to it. They encourage patrons to ask library staff if they have questions while navigating the new catalog.

"The software isn't going to do everything we want it to do, but we are moving in the right direction," said Chase.

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