Thursday, September 25, 2014

Not Your Grandparents' Catalog

Today I was helping a customer find something to read, using our library catalog. The image that springs into your mind may be the old wooden card catalog with drawers filled with typed cards holding a brief description of the book and its call number. Today’s catalog offers much more.

The Online Public Access Catalog, or OPAC, features all the standard options for searching: keyword, title, author, and subject. The OPAC can be accessed from anywhere that you have access to the Internet. JCLC offers three flavors of library catalog, Classic, Encore, and Kids Catalog. All three offer the familiar searching tools, but Encore is flashier and features many of the online shopping tools used by, Barnes and Noble, and Books-A-Million.

The Kid’s catalog provides guides for searching with images and general topics. Also available on kids on line are helpful links to Award Winning books, and Back to School links to Live Homework Help, and databases such as Britannica Learning Zone and Encyclopedia of Alabama.

All three catalogs allow users to log into their library accounts and place holds on books and media that will be sent to a library of your choice. You can review what is currently checked out and what is on reserve, place Inter-library loan requests, and pay for any outstanding fines or fees. The OPAC allows users to search for additional information about an item by providing links to Amazon books, Google Books, and Open Books. All three catalogs will allow searches limited to format such as print, large print, paperback, electronic, video, and audio.

Today’s catalog is a powerful multipurpose research tool that is only limited by your imagination. If you need help learning more about using the OPAC, contact your local library where friendly knowledgeable staff are ready to help you begin your exploration.

William Darby
East Lake Library

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