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Some Disruptions Ahead When City of St. Louis and County Libraries Combine Catalogs This Month | Books

First, the bad news: there will be some inconvenience starting next week as two major libraries integrate their catalogs.

On the one hand, readers will not be able to request books from March 9 to 16 from the St. Louis County Library Where St. Louis Public Library. (Requests are also known as book holds.)

Additionally, customers’ online playlists associated with their accounts will disappear. Libraries recommend printing a copy by March 8 if you have a reading list.

A few other things to know:

• You will need your library card to visit libraries and borrow books. And you will not be able to receive a new card from March 9 to March 16.

• New items are only added to the system after March 17, by which time the merge must be complete.

• After March 17, you must reset your PIN.

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• In the city, the St. Louis Public Library will close all libraries on March 17 to test the new system. The city also says the online catalog won’t be available March 18, but you can call a library to request a book.

• It also notes that from March 9 to 16, customers cannot “apply for passports or pay fees. Staff will not be able to register returned documents or remove them from customer accounts.”

• It is only on March 25 that city users will be able to connect and use the catalog. The St. Louis Public Library states, “On March 25, the Shared Online Catalog will go live and customers will be able to begin accessing the catalog and account.”

Customers who are concerned about library services from March 9-16 should ask questions now.

Once the catalogs are integrated and the issues resolved, 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 will be due in three weeks, not two weeks.

• Public computers in libraries should still be available from March 9 to 16.

Last fall, the 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.

Wednesday, March 2, 2022

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