Striking a balance between user familiarity and access to more powerful tools is always a challenge when dealing with software upgrades, and a new version of the software that drives LINKcat accomplishes both, said officials with the South Central Library System.
Regular users of the new LINKcat software, which rolled out Tuesday, Dec. 10, will find comfort in how similar it is to the current version. At the same time, a host of new features will give library users more power when navigating search results and managing their personal accounts.
LINKcat (www.linkcat.info) is the shared catalog for a consortium of public libraries that work together and with the South Central Library System to create a network of shared computer systems and services. Because LINKcat combines the library collections of all LINKcat libraries, the system gives library users access to nearly 3 million items representing more than 800,000 titles.
The software that drives LINKcat has been under active development for more than a year, and it was rolled out between 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and Tuesday, Dec. 10. LINKcat was unavailable during that time, but library customers can still check out items in person at public libraries in Adams, Columbia, Dane, Green, Portage, Sauk and Wood Counties, including the DeForest Area Public Library.
During this offline period, due dates on library items were extended to ensure minimal impact for library customers. Additionally, overdue fines were not incurred during this four-day period.
“The new software is provided by the vendor SCLS currently uses – LibLime,” said SCLS director Martha Van Pelt. “This new version will position SCLS to more efficiently add new features to the software used by library staff and to the patron interface (LINKcat). The functionality of the patron interface is similar to the current version, but there are new features that we think patrons will appreciate.”
Stylistically, the display is sleeker and more modern. The larger font size and increased white-space will make the new interface more usable, particularly on small screens such as smartphones and tablets.
There will also be more flexibility for patrons to manage their checked out items and holds, and it will be easier to navigate between titles.
DeForest Area Public Library Director Jan Berg called the LINKcat update “a major upgrade” which will improve the staff side of things, as well as make the system more intuitive for library patrons.
“This upgrade should make it a lot better for all users,” Berg said. “We look forward to that.”
More information about using new features is available in printed materials at libraries and online at https://help.linkcat.info.
DeForest Times-Tribune Associate Editor Hannah Rajnicek contributed to this article.