Electronic card catalog working well for county library system

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The more than 100,000 books of the Mississippi County Library System are now in a unified electronic card catalog. The massive undertaking took two years to complete but county librarians feel it was worth the work.

J.R. Ramiez, of Blytheville, uses his laptop to search Mississippi County Library System's electronic card catalog for a book at Blytheville Public Library instead of the old paper card catalog.

Mississippi County Library System director, Jay Ziolko, and assistant director Kevin Barron explained that the electronic card catalog brings together the inventory of all seven of Mississippi County's libraries allowing for better inventory control and accessibility to library services.

"It allows 24/7 access for patrons," Barron said. "People can now look up a book or author any time of day or night. They can now see in one place what is available at all seven of our locations. The new card catalog shows which library books are at, whether it is in or out, they can place books on hold, renew books or view their account history. It allows us to have better inventory control because we now know where every book is at in the county."

The Mississippi County Library System chose company Sirsidynix for its card catalog project. For more than 30 years Sirsidynix has been partnering with libraries around the world to provide technology services. Once the company was picked the very labor intensive process had just begun. Ziolko explained the county libraries then had to take inventory of each book in each library to get ready to input them into the electronic card catalog.

"We had to hire five or six people to work full time for about six months when the project first began," Ziolko said. "It is expensive to put a book into an electronic card catalog so our first task was to decide which books were worth keeping."

They did that by first looking at how many times each book was checked out. If a book had not been checked out at all in five years the librarians would look at it and decide whether it was worth keeping in inventory. With more than 100,000 books to look through this step alone took a considerable amount of time. The next step was to actually input the books into the card catalog.

"We could have sent a book list to Sirsidynix for them to input for us but that would have been really expensive," Ziolko said. "So we decided to do it ourselves, which gave us a better understanding of what we had county wide. We started with our circulating books first."

The process started at Blytheville. Books there were entered into the database followed by the rest of the county libraries. If a book in Blytheville was also available at all the libraries, staff members simply added the location and number of books available. But if a book was available at only one location a whole new catalog entry had to be created. The staff at each library are learning to use the new electronic card catalog and find it both easier and more time efficient than the old paper card catalog.

To access the electronic card catalog citizens need to type mcls.ipac.sirsidynix.net into the address bar of their web browser. That will take them to the Mississippi County Library System site to begin searching the card catalog. To view their account or place a book on hold residents will need to log in using the bar code on their library card and contacting any of the libraries in the county to create a four digit pin number.

"Pin numbers can be anything you want them to be it just has to be something that is easy for you to remember," Barron said. "Some use their birthdays others use their ATM pin number. It dosen't take but a minute to do and you can start placing books on hold or checking your account right away."

To get a library card citizens should go to the library in their community. Libraries are located in Blytheville, Osceola, Luxora, Keiser, Wilson, Manila and Leachville. Blytheville and Osceola libraries are open seven days a week and the rest are open Monday, Wednesday and Friday. For library hours and services call or check the Mississippi County Library System website at http://www.mclibrary.net/.

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