Thursday, August 31, 2006

A new look to UMass Amherst Library Website, and the new online catalog

The Library's Website has undergone a radical redesign, and we hope that our patrons will find it easier to use, once they get over the initial shock. The content is essentially the same, except for the new catalog, which had its debut this week also.

In the months to come, we are also changing the way the contents of the Library's Website are organized, so that behind the scenes, it will be contained in a "content management system." While we hope that this change will be invisible to our patrons, we also believe that it will allow the content to be more current, since global changes will be easier to make.

The new online library catalog, mentioned above, has 'gone live' as they are saying over in Du Bois, and it is not without problems. This gigantic piece of software is really called an 'integrated library system' or ILS. An ILS not only contains the catalog of our materials and electronic resources, it also includes the circulation system and all the transactions, patrons, holds, bills, etc., and the acquisitions module - this tracks all the library materials we order and purchase. On top of that, this one system is shared by five separate institutions, the Five Colleges; so you can see that glitches are inevitable in the implementation of something so massive. We beg your patience and understanding.

That said, please do let us know when you encounter a problem. You might be the first one to notice something awry. Do also let us know if you find something that you like - though at this juncture I'm not holding my breath!

Wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

A new library catalog!

The Five College Library System is instituting a big change. A new Five College Library Catalog will debut the week of August 28, 2006, providing improved access to the millions of resources at the UMass Amherst Libraries and those of the Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith College Libraries. After a detailed market review, the libraries chose ALEPH® by Ex Libris to replace Innopac by Innovative Interfaces, the existing library software system. The new catalog will be available through the Library home page at or directly at

The software will make searching for information easier. For example, it will permit online searching of all libraries simultaneously, foreign language searches, focusing searches on specific research areas, and limiting searches to a particular collection or format (i.e. book, CD, journal, etc.). It will now be possible for users to set up personal accounts to receive email notifications of new arrivals in designated subject areas, and to review personal searches and borrowing histories.

As part of the transition, the five-college request function and self- renewal features will be temporarily suspended from August 19 until the week of August 28, 2006 and the virtual catalog request function has been suspended through January 2007. Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery will continue to operate normally and users can continue to submit requests.

ALEPH was created by a team of librarians, systems analysts, and programmers to provide an automated library system that was efficient, user-friendly, and multilingual. Other libraries using the ALEPH software include Harvard, Duke University, MIT, State University of New York (SUNY), University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Maryland, University of Notre Dame, and many others.

Staff here at the Integrated Sciences and Engineering Library and at Du Bois will be available if you need help navigating the new features, or to speak to your classes about the new system and the libraries in general. As always, feel free to call me with any questions.