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The Carletonian

Library replaces catalogue with Catalyst

<ir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-085ad54f-0cf0-6069-5698-5bc094da95ab">The beginning of fall term saw the first real test for the Gould Library’s new catalogue, Catalyst, which replaced the previous system, Bridge Squared.

The initial rollout for Catalyst, a catalogue providing campus access to library material, commenced in June, with additional interface updates over the summer. The transfer of material from Bridge Squared to Catalyst resulted in some problems at the beginning of the school year, but after troubleshooting, the library says the new system is up and ready to go.

According to College Librarian Brad Schaffner, the problems arose from the transfer of material from Bridge Squared to Catalyst and from the new interface.

“Anytime you migrate millions of records, certain things don’t always transfer because it’s not a one to one correlation from the old system to the new system, so a lot of people spent a lot of time trying to map the changes,” Schaffner said. “I think considering how much was transferred, the change has gone really smoothly. There has been a few hiccups, as some of the links to our electronic resources got broken, but as soon as we find out about it, we try to fix it.”

Danya Leebaw, Reference and Instruction Librarian for Social Sciences, said most of these hiccups have been due to licensing issues. “We’re talking about millions of records that are migrated, and some potential issues are hard to test until it goes live. I think we’ve identified the major subscriptions that needed to be updated to work well with the new system, so at this point, it’s small clean-up.”

“Perhaps for a while, I was doing some searches during that first week, and I knew I wasn’t finding as much as what I know we own,” said Claudia Peterson, Reference and Instruction Liaison Librarian for Languages. “When you are migrating so much material, something falls through the cracks. As the weeks have gone by, everything is falling back into place, and now I’ve been doing the same searches that I was doing back in late July and early August, and I am finding what I expect to find.”

Ann Zawistoski ’97, Head of Reference and Instruction, expects the library homepage’s banner that warns students about problems with Catalyst to be taken down soon, saying that Catalyst is working much more smoothly. She added that “another thing that people will have to get used to with Catalyst is that the vendor pushes out updates to the interface much more often than Bridge, but I think that’s a good thing. There is going to be an update to the interface in November that I’m really excited about. It should let you virtually browse the shelves.”

“The real driving factor for the change was that we have had the old system, Bridge Squared, for twelve years, which is pretty old for a computer software system,” said Schaffner.

Schaffner also said that the company contracted to maintain Bridge Squared planned to stop providing support. “Eventually we would have had real problems with security and other aspects, so we needed to make the move to a newer system,” he said.

The College spends about $2 million annually on physical and electronic material for the library, according to Schaffner, and Catalyst is about the same price as Bridge Squared.

“There was an initial purchase price, which was covered by the Mellon Grant that we have with St. Olaf for enhancing the collaboration between the two colleges, but the ongoing fees will be roughly the same” he said. “We’re getting a much more modern architecture for about the same price.”

Catalyst and Bridge Squared offer the same access to material to campus, according to Peterson. “From working with Catalyst and from having worked with Bridge, they are both meant to do the same thing. What I think is really nice with Catalyst, and what we didn’t get with Bridge, is additional index that comes free, for the purpose of discovery.” Peterson added that Catalyst searches are dynamic, “so it’s not a static catalogue” like older systems.

While the largest adjustments have been for the library staff who have worked for over a year on Catalyst’s rollout, students and faculty have been impacted by the system change. Leebaw said that “students, especially returning seniors and some of the faculty who have well established workflows with the library catalogue, have felt a bigger adjustment than our incoming students, as it was going to be new to them regardless.”

“I think students and faculty have been pleased with the interface and find it easier to use. We did a short, informal, non-scientific survey of about 100 students in September to just help us to configure, and the students told us they really found it easy to use for the most part, which was great to hear,” said Leebaw.

Peterson echoed Leebaw, saying “I can speak from my interactions with students, faculty and my fellow staff that are trying to use this system to find material, and there’s a lot of different positives that I have heard overall. People like the new interface. They like the look and feel of it, yet it is something to get used to, and I think it has been a learning curve for people. Overall, a major positive that I find is that Catalyst does what it’s supposed to do.”

The library’s homepage continues to have a link inviting users to give feedback about Catalyst, and Zawistoski said the library welcomes comments. “It’s a big system, and there are problems we can’t see,” she said. “So the more eyes we have watching out for them, the more we can fix them.”

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