NYPL Integrates Fiction and Research Catalogs

American Libraries, August-September 2009 | Go to article overview

NYPL Integrates Fiction and Research Catalogs


The New York Public Library has rolled out a new catalog and OPAC, integrating its fiction and research collections into one interface. The interface and back-end database, which the library calls the Catalog, is powered by Innovative's Encore software and appears to end users as a pared-down, minimal version of the old systems, but its introduction was anything but simple.

The hardware and software for the Catalog cost $7 million, funds that were supplied by the city along with private financing. The integration was three years in the making, with a team of 12 dedicated to the project. In addition to the data migration itself, user testing played an important role in the overall project. A user experience team focused on identifying features and interface design desired by end users. A million-record database representing research and circulating collections was loaded on a server dedicated to testing and training; the server was a test case prior to the full 8-million-record version's release.

The final integration took place over two days. On Friday, July 3, patrons were using the former CATNYP and LEO catalogs; the following Monday the new ILS was up and running.

The initial launch was met with some technological problems, which reflected the enormity of the task of moving millions of pieces of data in a relatively short period of time, according to NYPL spokeswoman Nadia Riley. These initial problems caused long lines at circulation desks and upset some patrons, but two days later the Catalog was operating more smoothly. By July 10, "all major functions were restored," NYPL's Heidi Singer said in the New York Times City Room blog July 20.

The research and circulating collections were previously cataloged using different ILS software, as well as with different call numbering systems, Dewey and NYPL's own unique system, respectively. Branch and research libraries were formerly run as separate units, further adding to the division between the old catalog systems. Combining the two catalogs unifies the library, according to Riley, and creates a more powerful and seamless search function. …

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