New library online catalog launches Monday, staff nearly done with first full inventory since 1986

Book lovers may notice a new look while searching for a new page-turner.

The new online catalog launches Monday for the Great Falls Public Library.

Library staff and the vendor have been working on the switch for months and it’s more user-friendly and intuitive, said Kathy Mora, library director.

“I think it’s a lot cleaner,” Mora said. “We’re excited.”

The new online catalog is from the same vendor, SirsiDynix, and the switch was included in this year’s library budget. Since the company was trying to move its current customers to the new configuration, Great Falls got a “screaming deal,” Mora said.

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Library staff are also completing an inventory of the collection. The last full inventory was done in 1986, Mora said, when the staff was preparing for an automated system.

Back then, a group of 30 temporary employees went through the entire collection to catalog each item.

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This time, library staff and some volunteers have cataloged the items. It’s a project they started last summer.

“It really was overdue,” Mora said. “It takes a lot of labor to do that.”

More said the inventory should be complete this week.

Mora said she was expecting a significant number of materials to have gone missing in all that time, but has been pleasantly surprised that isn’t the case.

The library has about 140,000 items in the collection, excluding magazines, newspapers, microfilm, etc.

Going forward, Mora said the library will work to do a full inventory every 10 years or so.

Though the project is labor intensive, it’s a good way for library staff to familiarize themselves with the collection, as do shelving and weeding.

The library weeds materials from the collection based on their condition, accuracy and whether they’ve been checked out in years.

Many weeded items go on a shelf by the front door for sale for $1 to the general public.

Beginning last fall, the library subscribed to a service that helps with weeding and also filling holes in the collection or beefing up popular topic areas.

Library staff sends data to the company that analyses the data. Mora said that the library uses the data, but also relies on staff expertise for collection management.

The city is also looking for applicants for a vacancy on the library board. The City Commission recently removed a member for lack of attendance, creating the vacancy with a term through 2021.

The library board has five members who oversee policies and operations including book policies and service to the city, county and pathfinder Federation of Libraries.

Meetings are held on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 4:30 p.m.

For more information, contact Mora at the library at 453-9706.

Applications are due by 5 p.m. March 28 and the application form is available here.