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ISSUE 118 VOL 2 PUBLISHED 9/24/2004

Bridging libraries: Joint catalogue solves search delays

By Allie Helling
Contributing Writer

Friday, September 24, 2004

In an effort to increase the academic resources available to students and staff at St. Olaf and Carleton, the two colleges recently merged their separate library catalogues to form a new, joint catalogue called the Bridge.

The Bridge replaces Sage and Muse, the separate catalogues of the colleges, and allows users to search both of the colleges' catalogues simultaneously.

Bryn Geffert, St. Olaf's college librarian, believes the new catalogue will save students time and effort. In the past, students have had to perform a separate search for the St. Olaf and Carleton libraries.

"It was a lot of extra work for students," Geffert said.

The idea of merging the two catalogues was first seriously discussed about a year and a half ago, when St. Olaf needed to purchase new software. The college contacted Carleton, who was very interested in the idea of merging.

A committee which included four members from each college met and discussed the pros and cons of such a venture for many months.

Students and faculty also looked at other combined catalogues and commented on what they did and did not like.

While many people saw the potential benefits of the merger, others were strongly opposed to it, mostly because of the required money and effort that was needed to ensure the project's success.

The combination of the two catalogues took about 30 people six months to complete.

The project itself was expensive and complicated.

The merging of the catalogues was made possible by a grant from the Andrew Mellon Foundation, which gave $250,000 to St. Olaf and Carleton.

The foundation has supported similar undertakings for other colleges in the past, most notably three Philadelphia-area colleges.

When the colleges purchased books, a representative from each school was sent to discuss the materials inside their libraries, in order to avoid duplication.

St. Olaf and Carleton have also collaborated in the past.

"For a long time, St. Olaf, when purchasing books, has kept in mind Carleton's collection," Geffert said. For students and staff, less duplication due to the combined catalogue will mean more money available to purchase more unique and expensive materials.

The proximity of St. Olaf and Carleton makes transportation of materials between the two schools fairly easy.

The system for requesting materials from the other library is very simple and user-friendly.

Next to each title is an indication of where the source is located; CC stands for Carleton and StO for St. Olaf. The user simply needs to hit the "request" button and will then be prompted to fill in his or her name and ID card barcode.

A van carrying requested materials runs twice a day between the two schools.

Since the school year is just beginning, many St. Olaf students have yet to use the new system.

"I didn't even know there was a new catalog, but I'm sure for the people who need sources at Carleton, it will serve its purpose," Tyler Johnson '07 said.

For workers in the St. Olaf library, the new software was very different from what they were used to. Library workers went through three days of training and three days of follow-up training are scheduled for October.

So far, the system has experienced minor errors, such as a few identical records from the two schools that did not merge.

However, for the most part, the system is running smoothly and "the feedback from faculty has been good," according to Geffert.

Geffert anticipates a successful merger.

"I am anxious to see if this creates an increase in books flowing between the two libraries, he said. I'm hoping that will be the case."

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