The St. Albert Public Library is getting set to celebrate its annual Patron Appreciation Day on Monday and it has a few special treats for the party.
You can expect prize giveaways along with the coffee and other refreshments, and there will be a major announcement to make at the same time, but the proverbial cat is already out of the bag.
The library has already completed installation of the next generation of web-based catalogues by Ontario-based BiblioCommons. The program, made possible with financial backing from the provincial government, is up and running as a test-drive feature on the library’s website at www.sapl.ab.ca.
During the grand launch just after lunch it will become the main tool for all 25,000 active members who have already accessed the older catalogue 160,000 times this year — the same amount for all of 2009. Because web usage is increasing, the library’s staff feels the new catalogue with its increased functionality will be a very welcome change.
“It’s actually more than a catalogue,” enthused library director Peter Bailey, “It’s a sort of social discovery system where people can communicate with other BiblioCommons users about what they’ve read or listened to or watched, create lists that others can make use of and rate and review stuff. I’m really excited about being able to tap into the views of our patrons.
“This is a new social network for library users in St. Albert.”
The new site will still have the same functions as the old one while allowing new features like seeing items that you have already borrowed and browsing through others that are similar in taste. You can recommend items to other users, too, but a major benefit is the superhero of search engines.
“The search capability is so much better,” Bailey said. “You can refine your search in a number of ways so that you can hone in on just the item that suits your needs. The decision to bring in the new catalogue is all about making our patrons’ library experience better and more convenient.”
Any person renewing or signing up for a new library membership will receive a free reusable tote bag.
Extra staff will help guide users through the site, plus half-hour training sessions will be offered on Monday at 7 p.m. and Tuesday through Thursday at 1:30 p.m. Call 780-459-1682 to reserve a spot.