My public library has gone and done a number on me. Last week they implemented a new catalog. It’s one of those more social media-like ones where you can follow other patrons and share lists and rate and review books and probably a few more things I haven’t figured out yet. It’s a big change from the old catalog and at first I grumbled because the lists feature of the old catalog is not the same as the new one.

In the new system, lists are curated collections of books on a particular topic. So, for instance, my list of cycling books is great. My TBR priority list consisting of a mish-mash of books I really want to read as soon as I am able, however, is not. For this I am now supposed to use the “shelves” feature. There are three shelves, Completed, In Progress and For Later.

The Completed shelf is pretty spiffy because now I can keep track of books I have borrowed and will know whether I already looked at that gardening book. In Progress is self-explanatory. For Later is now where I am supposed to save my TBR books. I only get one “shelf” instead of my multiple lists. How the heck am I supposed to find anything?

Oh lovely library, I thought you were going to let me down but you have not! They have a content filter bar on the side of the page that matches the content on my shelf from fiction and nonfiction to adult and children’s to genre, topic and author. It’s pretty cool actually. But how will I know what my priority books are? There is a feature that allows me to “add details” to each item and I can use tags and make notes. I can also very easily place a hold from my shelf and move it to the In Progress shelf. And, a cool feature I discovered today, when I login to my account, I get a page that will tell me what books on my For Later shelf are currently available for immediate request. That might be dangerous!

All my lists from the old catalog transferred over to the new, but now I will want to move all those books to my shelf. I have many lists with a total of over 300 items between them (don’t judge!). I was worried it would be tedious but it turns out the lists have a nice button for putting the book on my shelf. Not so bad. The only ones that will take some extra time are the 50 or so books on my priority list that I will now have to tag. Maybe having to move them all will help me reconsider my priorities because really, how can one make fifty books a priority? That’s almost an entire year’s worth of reading. And if I can’t even read the twenty or so books on my reading table, those priority books are going nowhere.

Good job Hennepin County Library! I love the new catalog and feel so lucky to have such a great public library system.

Do any of you have a public library with nifty catalog features? What are they, how do you use them, and do you like them?

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