In April we announced the preview of our new catalog, and now it is time to make it official: the new catalog is here! Visit it at https://catalog.folger.edu/.
(Get comfy; this is a long one. Feel free to scroll down to the New features and resources section if you want to skip to the bells and whistles!)
The new catalog is powered by the TIND ILS (Integrated Library System). TIND is an official spin-off of CERN, the European Organization for Nuclear Research.1 While CERN is most famous for being the home of the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s largest and highest-energy particle collider, it is also a center for research and experimentation in information organization and exchange. Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau invented what would become the World Wide Web while working at CERN!
CERN was the initial developer for an open source project called Invenio, which includes the Invenio Framework, a code library for building large-scale information systems, and two systems built on that framework: Invenio RDM (Research Data Management) and Invenio ILS (Integrated Library System). While we love open source software, smaller libraries typically do not have software developers or systems administrators on staff devoted solely to library systems development and support. To be clear, this is not a criticism or complaint; it’s just the reality for smaller libraries. We prefer to focus our staff in other areas and instead pay vendors to handle not only software development, but also around-the-clock support on our behalf.
Fun fact: Libraries are often discussed in terms of their “JSTOR classification“, and we are the rather adorable “Very Small”. To which Greg Prickman, Eric Weinmann Librarian and Director of Collections, replies: “though she be but little, she is fierce.”
Enter TIND. The founders started at CERN, working with Invenio. With CERN’s blessing, they spun off as a commercial venture, developed additional functionality and customization options for their systems, and added support options. This allows libraries like ours to use an ILS that would otherwise be unavailable to us because of technical limitations. Even better, we’ve joined a community of other libraries using the ILS, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Several Folger staff just attended the virtual “GlitterTIND User Group Summit 2022” where we were introduced to other libraries and participated in community conversations about the development roadmap, feature requests, and other company plans.
Why was the user group summit called GlitterTIND, you ask? Great question! Glittertind is the name of the second highest mountain in Norway, and TIND is headquartered in Oslo. “Tind” means “pinnacle” på norsk, and that is represented in the company’s logo:
Selecting a new ILS
If you’re curious about how we finally arrived at TIND as a replacement for the ILS we’ve used for the last twenty-five years,2 the answer is that we spent several months writing a requirements document detailing what we needed in a new ILS. It was 28 pages long, with 311 requirements and 36 questions. While we knew no system would likely meet every requirement, the document helped us focus our attention on systems that were best suited for our needs.
Selecting a new ILS was challenging because of the richness of the Folger’s bibliographic data. See, for instance, this record, or this one, or perhaps this one.3 While many people come to the Folger to do research with items in our collections, many librarians refer to the Folger’s bibliographic data to learn more about how rare materials (books, manuscripts, graphics, etc.) are cataloged.4 We needed to make sure that a new ILS could work with, and make the most of, the richness of our data.
Also, while there are a number of integrated library systems that are common in the university setting, the needs of an institution like ours are very different from the needs of an institution like, say, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. They have over twenty libraries at the main campus, with some 14 million volumes plus 24 million other items in all formats, languages, and subjects. They also participate in the CARLI I-Share consortium so they can share resources with eighty-seven other libraries in the state. Those kinds of libraries need systems that focus on automation, reporting, and resource-sharing across multiple locations. Since we are Very Small, buying the same system as theirs would be like using a sledgehammer to hang a picture on the wall. Not to mention, we’d be paying for a lot of features we do not need, and trying to adapt our very different workflows and practices to a system that is built for different ends.
I have been asked if we invited readers to help us select a new catalog, and the answer is: not directly. That is because the catalog seen by the public is just one facet of a very complex system; behind the scenes, an ILS provides a great deal of functionality for librarians that is invisible to the public. For example, it includes functions such as circulating materials; tracking library acquisitions; managing acquisitions funds and vendors; accessioning items into the collection; cataloging materials; tracking arrival of journal issues and binding of complete journal volumes; reporting; and other features. Since we were looking for a complete ILS system, we needed to focus our initial attention on internal needs.
Having said that, our internal needs do include a fully functional catalog, and we have been taking into account the needs of our non-staff users every step of the way. The Researcher Services staff have repeatedly championed the needs of all users throughout this process, from the drafting of requirements through custom configuration and development. Their input played a significant role in helping us select the right ILS. In fact, the needs of our catalog users were paramount in selecting the right system. There were other ILSes on the market that could have met our internal staff needs, but they were missing key features that we want in our catalog. Chief among those features is the ability to search with precision and recall.5
Another important feature that is largely invisible to the public but important for us are APIs, or application programming interfaces. APIs allow systems to exchange information with each other. We wanted a robust set of APIs so that we could improve the connections among our systems, to make the user experience easier.6 We haven’t implemented these connections yet, but they are a key part of our plan to have interconnected systems by the time we re-open the reading room. In the meantime, I invite you to become familiar with the catalog and to learn about its new features (see “New features and resources” below).
If you’re wondering why we are not calling this catalog “Hamnet”, it’s for several reasons. First, “Hamnet” has meant a very specific catalog for 25 years, and the new catalog is different. For that reason, we want to retire the Hamnet name. More importantly, many libraries have moved away from using such names for library systems, preferring to refer to systems in plain language so anyone visiting the site can figure out how to find what they need. We’ve already done this with our “request system”, which is for … requesting items for use in the reading room. Similarly, most people familiar with libraries—whether they are K-12 school libraries, public libraries, university libraries, or other types of libraries—are familiar with the idea of a library catalog. So, we’ll call it that. Also, calling it the ‘catalog’ makes the URL easy to remember: It’s https://catalog.folger.edu/.7
New features and resources
In the coming weeks and months, we will be working on instructional materials so that users can take advantage of the many features of the new catalog. We’ve started a page in Folgerpedia about the catalog. We’ll also be keeping track of the development of some key features there. Until we have developed Folger-specific guides about catalog features, we invite you to check out the following resources and features.
Some features, such as creating ‘baskets’ of results or subscribing to updates for search results, require a user account. Most current Folger readers will already have an account. Go to https://catalog.folger.edu/, click “login” in the upper right, then click “Forgot password” and enter your email address. If you’re already a Folger reader and the catalog claims your email address does not exist in the database, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll fix it. If you’re not registered as a Folger reader, and you would like an account, contact email@example.com and we’ll create a catalog account for you. Everyone is welcome to have one; accounts are not just for people who intend to use the library in person!
TIND has a general search guide for the catalog: https://catalog.folger.edu/docs/search-guide/ (which can also be reached by clicking on “search tips” under the search box). Be sure to check out the Advanced Search. It’s even possible to search by regular expressions!
We’ve built some Collections in the catalog so you can search and browse by Books & Serials, Manuscripts, Art & Objects, etc.
You will be thrilled, no doubt, to hear that the catalog will not ‘time out’. Hamnet would time out because the system is built with older technologies that only allowed a limited number of users to access the catalog at one time. The new catalog has no such limitations! You can also use your browser’s back and forward buttons. Even better, you don’t have to look for a ‘permanent URL’ in the record somewhere. URLs are way cooler in the new catalog…
Fun with URLs
If you need the permanent URL for an item in the catalog, you can just copy it from the address bar of your browser! It will look like this: https://catalog.folger.edu/record/336741?ln=en.
(If reading about URLs isn’t for you, skip to the next heading! But to learn some cool tricks, read on.)
If you are concerned about Hamnet URLs you have saved in your notes, do not despair! First, as of July 1st, we will automatically redirect each Hamnet URL to the same record in the new catalog. Second, permanent URLs from Hamnet look like this:
Compare that to the new catalog URL:
In Hamnet, there’s a number after “BBID=”. In the new catalog, you just put that same number after “/record/”. (You can leave out the “?ln=en” part of the URL in the new catalog, since we already set English as the language of the catalog interface.) So, if you have a bunch of Hamnet URLs, you can update them by find and replace! Just search for “http://hamnet.folger.edu/cgi-bin/Pwebrecon.cgi?BBID=” (without quotes) and replace it with “https://catalog.folger.edu/record/” (without quotes). Et voilà! You have the new URLs!
Not only are URLs for individual records available in the address bar – so are URLs for your search query! Once you’ve run a search, you can copy the URL from the address bar and save it, or bookmark it in your browser. If you want to run that search again later, you can just use that URL! You can also share it with others, or include it in a question when you contact us so we can see those same search results, too. It’s possible to figure out how a search query is represented in a URL, and then you can make changes to that query just by editing the URL. For example, I clicked on the ‘prints’ sub-collection under ‘Art & Objects’, like so:
Once I was taken to the Prints sub-collection, I searched for “year:1500->1600” (without quotes) in the search box.8 When I saw the search results, I copied the URL, which was this:
You’ll see that part of the URL is “year%3A1500-%3E1600”. I can experiment with that: say I want to search the Prints for 1540-1640. I could change the numbers in that part of the URL from 1500 and 1600 to 1540 and 1640, and end up with this:
In this way, you could systematically edit the URL values to run other searches, without having to start at the front search page and go through several steps to get to the results!
In the screenshots below, I’ve gone to the Objects collection and searched the term ‘sword’. Under the Search button, there’s an ‘options’ button:
Clicking on that button expands a menu for modifying the results by changing their ranking, the number of results displayed, and whether they are in ascending or descending order.
Additionally, there are ‘facets’ on the left side of the search results page, and these can be applied to the search results to refine them.
Baskets and alerts
If you are logged in to your catalog account, scroll to the bottom of your search results, and there are additional options:
It’s possible to check off boxes next to select search results and then click ‘add to basket’. To select everything on the page, click on the checkbox on the left side of the ‘add to basket’ button first:
That will check the boxes for every search result; then click on ‘add to basket’ to add all results on that page to the basket. An untitled basket is automatically generated for you. (More on baskets below.)
Note, too, the ‘export records’ button on the bottom right of the page. This allows you to export all the results on the page to a spreadsheet.
The bottom center of the page reads, “Interested in being notified about new results for this query? Set up a personal email alert or subscribe to the RSS feed.” Readers—and staff!—have often asked to be notified of new additions to the collections, but that required manually creating lists. Now it’s possible to not only receive notifications of additions to the collection; you can refine your search so you receive the notifications tailored to your specific interests.9
More instructions will be coming soon, but here’s a whirlwind tour of some added features when you are logged into your account. You’ll see the “Personalize” menu at the top of the page.
You can hover over the menu to see the options, or click on it to be taken to a page with those same options. From there you can manage any alerts you may have created, which are emails or RSS feeds for new search results described above. If you’ve added any items to ‘baskets’, you can edit those baskets there. You can give them more meaningful names, add/delete items, and add notes to items in your baskets. It’s even possible to organize baskets into topics. Scroll down to the bottom of a basket, and you’ll see options to export the contents of the basket in several formats. Clicking on ‘edit basket’ also brings up some options for sharing baskets with others. To start, it’s possible to make a basket public to anyone by clicking in the box in the ‘Manage global sharing rights’ section and selecting whichever option you prefer.
Alternatively, you can create a custom group of users, and share a basket with just that group. You can manage these groups from the Personalize menu, under ‘your groups’. You can create new groups and manage your membership in groups created by others. This opens a new way to share resources with, for example, seminar participants. Since anyone can ask for an account by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org, there’s really no limit on who can be added to a group.
The ‘your searches’ part is pretty cool—it keeps a running list of all the searches you’ve run, including when you last ran them, and what search terms you used. You can run a search again by clicking on “Execute search”, and you can also set a new alert for a search from this page. This is great if you want to manage a number of searches and copying URLs for each search becomes messy. Or perhaps you forgot to copy a URL and want to find that search again.
‘Your messages’ provides a method for you to write brief messages to other users or groups within the system. This could be a good way of alerting a group about changes to a basket that you’re sharing with the group.
‘Your loans’ will show you your open stacks circulation history—you won’t have to ask the staff to generate that list on your behalf!
Finally, there is ‘your account’, where you can edit your password, search settings, language settings, and also create API keys. Note that you will not be able to update your email address yourself; please contact us at email@example.com if you need to update it.
That concludes the whirlwind tour of features! If you need an account, need help with anything, or have questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We welcome your feedback, whether good or bad, but please do keep in mind that there are additional features under development, and we also can request new features for development. So, if there’s something bothering you about how the catalog works, please let us know how it could be improved and we’ll check into it!
- “CERN” is derived from Conseil européen pour la recherche nucléaire. It’s sometimes referred to as the European Laboratory for Particle Physics.
- In 1996, the Folger adopted the Voyager ILS made by Endeavor Information Systems, which merged with Ex Libris, which was bought by ProQuest, which is itself now owned by Clarivate.
- Readers may also be familiar with our preliminary records (like this one) that include an advisory note: “This is a PRELIMINARY RECORD copied from an old card (which is better than nothing!). Please email email@example.com for assistance.” We use these placeholder records because they are indeed better than nothing, and they provide at least some level of access to these items until we can catalog them fully.
- In fact, Senior Cataloger Deborah J. Leslie teaches Rare Book Cataloging at Rare Book School, was the chair of the editorial team for Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Books), and is currently in the editorial group working on Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (RDA Edition). Senior Cataloger Erin Blake was the chair of the editorial team for Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (Graphics) and has joined the editorial group working on Descriptive Cataloging of Rare Materials (RDA Edition) now that it is focusing on graphics.
- I explain these terms in the opening paragraph of an earlier Collation post. If it seems absurd that a library catalog would lack precision and recall, I agree! Some catalogs use complex algorithms to return search results. Because of these algorithms—which are often protected as a trade secret of the ILS vendor—users cannot be sure that they’ve found exactly what they were seeking or that they’ve found everything in the catalog that matches their search terms. While some libraries have users that might benefit from these algorithms and/or artificial intelligence being used to determine search results, our users often need a catalog that works very much like the card catalog: users can find the cards with the exact author, title, or subject they seek; and they can see exactly how many cards match that author, title, or subject. ‘Tis a thing of beauty!
- Want to work with the APIs yourself? You can go to your account and create API keys!
- I thought it would be nice to call the new catalog “Judith”, after Hamnet’s twin sister. But in the spirit of being open and welcoming to all, we went with ‘catalog’ instead.
- Searching by a range of years, and other search tips like that, are explained in the aforementioned search guide.
- N.B. if you’re interested in receiving notifications for everything when it is newly added to the catalog, simply go to the catalog, leave the search box blank, and click ‘search’. This will run a search for everything in the catalog. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you can sign up for email notification or an RSS feed for anything that is added to the catalog. However, we do not recommend this option! We will be doing batch uploads of catalog records in the coming months, and you do not want to get a notice for the 180,000+ Eighteenth Century Collections Online (ECCO) records that we will be loading into the catalog! Not all catalog records are noteworthy additions, so we recommend running more specific searches before subscribing to notifications.
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Joanna — June 2, 2022