New Library Catalog Coming Today!

Today’s the Day!

So excited to bring you a user-friendly, more Amazon-like catalog. is now available, and we encourage you to explore. If you like the new catalog, “like” us on Facebook and show your enthusiasm. Some small tweaks behind the scenes will be made in the next few days, but report anything you don’t like/do like via our feedback button.

Quick Fact of Day 1 – Arriving Tomorrow!

Q. When will I get my first look at the new catalog and get to resume all normal activities on

The new catalog will be turned on sometime around 9am Wednesday, May 23. At this time, we don’t expect any further delays. We hope you enjoy the new catalog as much as we think you will. Stay tuned tomorrow for announcements on, as well as on our Facebook, on twitter and on YouTube profiles.

Quick Fact of Day 2 – 14-Digital Library Card Number

Q. Will I still need to remember/refer to my library card number to use the catalog?

We have heard from many of you who proudly can recall from memory your 14-digit library card number and want to use it when checking out books, movies and games in the new catalog. You can continue to do that! However, if you want, you can log into the catalog through a unique username and password that you set.

Quick Fact of Day 3 – Electronic Resources like OverDrive, Freegal Music, Databases, etc.

Q. The library has a variety of downloadable/digital media, including ebooks, digital audiobooks, music tracks, research databases and periodicals, most of which require a library card PIN. Are these still available during the May 17-23 transition? How will these resources I use be affected by the new catalog?

Most of our subscriptions to electronic resources, including ebooks and research articles & databases, will still be available during our transition to the new catalog and after. Our Freegal free music service, where you get 3 tracks/week to keep, is available too. These resources are mostly found under the “Find Stuff” tab in our website’s navigation.

Quick Fact of Day 4 – Previously Placed Holds

Q. I understand that I cannot place holds May 17-23. What will happen to my holds that I placed prior to May 17? Will they transfer over?

Good news! All holds will transfer over with customers retaining their proper place in line. Of course, from now until we go live no new holds can be placed.

Quick Fact of Day 5 – Finding Community Resources

Q. I use the catalog to find information about organizations in Topeka. Will I still be able to do this?

Yes! The library’s list of community groups and organizations will be part of the new catalog. The new features and options for books will also apply to the Community Resources database. Also, in the near future, the library may be able to allow organizations to add their own content! Stay tuned.

Quick Fact of Day 6 – New Books & Movies

Q. I like to look just for new books and movies. Will it be easier in the new catalog?

A. Yes! The new catalog has several options that will allow you to quickly find new books and movies. It will also let you easily browse those items the library has just ordered. Book jackets for on-order books and the latest releases will be right in front of your eyes on Click on “New Titles” in the right rail, and you’ll find new books, videos, sound recordings and large print books at your library. And great news! You can sign up to receive an RSS feed to any of these.

Quick Fact of Day 7 – New Design

Check it out. Click to enlarge.

Check it out. Click to enlarge.

Q. What will the new catalog look like? Can we see a preview?

A. We’re excited about this fresh new look. While our web designers and developers are still tweaking things behind the scenes that may improve the final design, this snapshot gives you a general idea of what the new catalog will look like. We hope to keep design changes to a minimum after the catalog goes live May 23.

Quick Fact of Day 8 – Series

Q. Will the new catalog make it easier to discover books that are part of a series? That always frustrated me about the current catalog. 

A. It’s not the first time we’ve heard this complaint (a limitation of our current catalog), but we hope it will soon be the last time. When you conduct a search in the new catalog, there’s a handy Series button by the search field. Click that to limit your search results to just series. As always, ask a librarian for assistance if you can’t find what you’re looking for. Sometimes they know about the latest books in a series before they even hit the shelves and can put you on a waiting list for them.

Quick Fact of Day 9 – Reviews

Q. Will I be able to read or write reviews in the new catalog? 

A. Our catalog will be more Amazon-like, and with that in mind, we’re moving forward with plans to allow customer reviews of books, movies, etc. However, reviewing capabilities will not be available when the new catalog goes live May 23. Look for this feature to be added later in the year.

Quick Fact of Day 10 – Embedded Librarian

Q. I don’t have a lot of time to waste surfing the catalog for items. What if I get confused or lost in the new catalog, especially at first when I’m still getting use to it? Is there some sort of Help function?

A. The new catalog is intuitive, but we know there will be some getting use to it. When and if you get lost/confused, click on the Ask a Librarian icon embedded on the right side of the home page of and a librarian will assist you (during normal business hours). For your convenience, there’s also a Help button for answers to commonly asked “How Do I…” Remember for questions about finding an item you want, you can always call Reference at 580-4540 or 580-4400.

Quick Fact of Day 11 – Kids Catalog

Q. Have you thought of kids and how they search for stuff? Will my elementary school-aged children be able to figure out the catalog?

A. The Kids Catalog is one of the most exciting, most dramatic changes that will occur on May 23. With visual icons and large lettering to indicate different topics, the Kids Catalog gives kids an easy way to search and find what they are looking for and to discover something new. And while it’s designed for kids, it’s okay if mom and dad want to use it too. After we go live, stop into the Kids Library and ask a librarian to get you and your son or daughter acquainted with the new catalog and all its features.

Quick Fact of Day 12 – Get Social

Q. I want an easy way to share the books, movies, and other resources I find in new catalog with my Facebook friends?

A. Every day customers find something in our catalog they want to share with friends, family members or their colleagues. We encourage it! And now it’s as easy as a click of a button. With the new catalog, you will not only be able to easily hit a button to post to Facebook, but also email, send via Google, Tweet – in other words share it on just about any social media platform. Share often.

Quick Fact of Day 13 – My Lists

Q. I like to track what I will read/have read. Will “My List(s)” be transferred over to the new catalog?

A. Unfortunately your List(s) will not transfer over to the new system. Please make sure you print it out or save it digitally by May 17 so you can quickly create a new list(s) when the new catalog goes live May 23. And as with everything else in the new catalog, list creation and management should be easier for everyone to use. You must be logged in to have a list be saved in the new catalog.

Quick Fact of Day 14 – Your Password

Q. I have a tendency to forget my password. Will the new catalog include a way for me to retrieve/reset my password via the Internet?

A. For sure! In the age of email, online banking, online shopping and social media, we know it may be easy to forget the password for your library account. The new library catalog allows you to retrieve/reset your password electronically. And, you will be able to make your password/change your password to whatever you like (translate: will remember). As always, if you have questions regarding your account information just come in and ask a librarian, call 785-580-4400 or use the Ask a Librarian online chat service on the right side of our Home page.

Quick Fact of Day 15 – Mobile Edition

Q. I want to surf the catalog on my cell phone. Will this be more user-friendly than with the old catalog?

A. Yes. The new and improved catalog also includes a new and improved mobile website, designed specifically for smaller screens. We hope you check it out – great for requesting interesting titles immediately when you hear about them and for instant access to your account.

Quick Fact of Day 16 – Email and Texts

Q. How can I better stay on top of my due dates? Can the new catalog help me with that?

A. We already offer pre-overdue and past due email reminders, which many customers take advantage of. Now, we’re taking this service to the next level: TEXTING! You will soon be able to receive pre-overdue and past due notices via text messaging. To take advantage of this convenience, you will need to enter your cell phone number and carrier’s name in your account page at (once the new catalog goes live). Call 785-580-4424 if you want further details about receiving emails and/or texts from the library.

Quick Fact of Day 17 – Look/Feel/Interactivity

Q. Will I be shocked by the difference in design between the old and the new? Will I have to learn a new method of searching for books, movies, and music?

A. We think you’ll be pleasantly surprised. The new catalog is much more intuitive and user-friendly – like (hello 2012, good-bye 1995). You’ll still have fields to type in titles, authors’ names, etc., but discovering something you didn’t know about will be more possible now. The new catalog will feature virtual bookshelves (or ribbons) of latest releases, most popular items checked-out and staff-selected genres. We think the learning curve will be minimal, but we know any change can be difficult. Get in a bind? You can always call on a librarian to help you sort through an issue.

Quick Fact of Day 18 – Spelling and Auto Suggestions

Q. Will I have to spell titles, authors’ names, etc., correctly to find what I’m looking for?

A. No. Phonetic spellers will love the new catalog for its auto-generated suggestions. This will help you get to the titles you want when your spelling is close but not exact – a handy feature for all of us. (Because really, how many of us can remember how to spell John Lescroart?) Keep in mind, this isn’t a miracle worker. If your spelling is way off, you might just ask a librarian for assistance.

Quick Fact of Day 19 – Username vs. 14-digit PIN

Q. What’s one of the first differences customers will see in the new catalog?! 

A. Good-bye, 14-digit library card numbers. Hello, customer-created log-ins and passwords. The new catalog allows cardholders to choose the username and password that they want to use/will remember. This will enable faster access to customer accounts.

On May 23, there will be a better way to find books, movies, and music. Your library is getting a new library catalog!

If you’ve ever searched for a book or movie at our library, you have used our catalog. On May 23, that will be upgraded to a new, better catalog. What will be different?

  • It will look different.
  • You’ll be able to create a personal reading history (if you want to), or create a wish list.
  • It will have “auto suggestions” (start typing, and suggestions will appear).
  • Create your own username and password – no more having to remember that silly 14-digit number. Yippie!
  • Text notifications (if you like texting, you’ll love this).

This is a pretty huge project for the library, so during May 17-23, you might notice a few things that don’t work quite like normal or that limit your access:

  • No catalog searching. Don’t worry – you can still check stuff out! Head to the shelves and rediscover the joy of browsing.
  • You won’t be able to place holds or get to your account. Those concerned about renewing before you get fined, don’t worry. Nothing will be overdue May 17-23.
  • No DVD Dispenser (we’ll get it connected to the new service as soon as possible).

Otherwise, it’s business as usual. So – May 23 your library is bringing you a modern library catalog. We think you’ll like it! If you have questions, just ask by leaving a comment below.

David Lee King is the Digital Services Director at Topeka & Shawnee County Public Library, where he plans, implements, and experiments with emerging technology trends.

38 thoughts on “New Library Catalog Coming Today!

  1. Sounds great! One question — will “My List” convert over to the wishlist in the new system??
    Thanks, Cathy E.

  2. This is a great video, love how clear and easy to understand, yet enjoyable to watch it is! Welcome to Polaris! We are very excited, as a current Polaris customer and a huge van of David’s & TSCPL to have you joining us!

  3. I’m looking forward to seeing and using the new catalog, but I’m sure I’m in the minority about the switch from library card numbers to username and password: I have my library card number MEMORIZED, so logging into my account is a breeze! (Yes, I really am that big a library nerd.) I guess I need to start thinking of my new username and password…

  4. Marie – well, you should still be able to actually use that library card number too – so no worries there! It’s just another option.

    And of course – we LOVE library nerds!

  5. Can’t wait to see what’s in store. Excited to have the reading history feature! I too have my library card number memorized (and proud of it!) so I’m glad I can opt to continue to use that!

  6. Cathy – Unfortunately, your current “My List” will not transfer over to the new system. Please make sure you print it out or save it beforehand so you can quickly create a new list in the new catalog!

    If you have any questions on how to do that, our staff will be happy to help you.

  7. Ha ha – “(hello 2012, good-bye 1995)” — This is what I am most looking forward to about the new catalog — from what I’ve heard and seen so far, all of the changes and improvements reflect the way that the Internet works these days, so searching the library catalog is going to feel just like “online shopping” 🙂 Hooray!

  8. This does sound better…but will I be able to log in with my library number still? I have memorized long ago and find it quick and easy.

  9. Exciting changes! I agree that this sounds much more like the internet browsing and shopping that we are all used to doing. 🙂

  10. These changes sound great.Auto complete,suggestions,reading history. It all sounds good.Thank you all so much especially the bookmobile service and it’s staff.

  11. I would love if you could actually search the catalog by catagory, such as Inspirations Romance and even if you could search based on how many copies of books you have. We are always looking for books for our Christian book club, but only need 4 copies of the books and it’s soo hard to find them. Will this new system have this? Can you make it have this if it doesn’t? Thanks

  12. Will you be releasing screenshots or videos of the new system being used before its release? Nothing goes over worse on the web than change.

  13. H – Yes, you can search by “category.” We’d call that a subject search, and it’s done by searching for “inspirational fiction” as a subject. Once the new catalog is up, ask one of our librarians at a service desk how to do it – they’ll be able to help!

  14. H & David,

    While it is possible to search by genres, you will not get a complete list. You also probably won’t want to browse through 2500-3000 results you will get. Therefore we don’t usually recommend customers try it. We can look at the new catalog’s capabilities to see if we can come up with a useful genre search. Thanks!

  15. I really hate that we will no longer be able to place holds on items. I use this capability a great deal.

  16. Virginia – you will still be able to place holds. We will have a short “no one can place holds” time from May 17-23 while we switch to the new system.

    But after that work is complete (May 23), you will be able to start placing holds again.

    Thanks for the comment!

  17. I really don’t want to have to create a username and password to get into my account. I have my numbers memorized! If I ever forget, it’s on the back of the card. To create another username (I have several others already) would just be confusing.

  18. I was wondering if there was anyway to have our entire borrowed history added to our profile, I would like to keep a running tally of the books I have read. Or will it just be the books we check out after 5/23. By the way this is a great idea and I can’t wait to utilize it. Also will the phone app be upgraded as well?

    Thanks For Everything


  19. Elijah, don’t fret. You can still use your 14-digit library card # if you desire. Also, all holds placed prior to May 17 will transfer over with you retaining your proper place in line. Thanks for using the library. Just a friendly reminder, from now until we go live no new holds can be placed.

  20. Will the new catalog allow me to perform searches to provide results of only those items that are available (and not include items checked out)?

  21. Mark – it will search the whole catalog, not just items that are actually in the library.

    Remember, you can always put checked-out items on hold, then get them once they are checked back in.

  22. looking forward to new changes!! nice intro to the changes very clear and to the point

  23. Really looking forward to the new system. Question: Can I not access my account at this time for any reason? I needed to confirm which books of mine I due this week and I couldn’t get into my account at all. I only have one opportunity (today) to return these books if they’re due anytime before the 23rd but I can’t seem to access this information on my account.

  24. Cheryl – correct – You should be able to access your account starting May 23. Don’t worry about overdues – we have made everything NOT go overdue until we make the software switch, so you should be ok.

  25. Will ther be an Update to the Library’s Iphone/android app to relect the catalog changes? and will this update possibly allow access to DVD Express reservations?

  26. Darin – yes, there will be an update to the Mobile app. No, the DVD dispenser won’t be there, unfortunately. that’s our goal, though – hopefully we’ll be able to do that at some point!

  27. Norma – the bookmobile is staying at home this week (May 21-26) for maintenance and to get their PCs updated with the new library catalog software. But we’ll be out again next week, starting May 29!

  28. I will reserve my opinion until you actually implement the new system. New is not necessarily better.

  29. Yay! it’s May 23rd, new catalog arrival day. Paul – thanks for the heads up that you may not be happy with this change or any other.

  30. Is the new library catalog up and running? I was checking the website whole day yesterday, but could not get to the new Catalog site.

  31. I am using Mozilla Firefox, and for some reason whenever I try to access the catalog it now gives me a “forbidden” error, saying the link is no longer active or has been changed. Anyone know why?

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