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 will roll 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 will be rolled out between 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 6, and Tuesday, Dec. 10. LINKcat will be 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.

During this offline period, due dates on library items will be extended to ensure minimal impact for library customers. Additionally, overdue fines will not be incurred during this four-day period.

Patrons may still visit their local library to check out and return items during regular hours of operation. Patrons will not have access to the catalog to place new holds, but will be able to check out existing holds on the library card the hold was placed.

Library patrons can use the library’s 24/7 eBook and eAudiobook collections through Wisconsin’s Digital Library at wplc.overdrive.com. Library staff will also be available to help patrons locate materials on their shelves.

Once the update is complete patrons will be able to use LINKcat to access the same services as before. While there will be changes to the look of the site, they will be minimal.

“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.

More information about using new features is available in printed materials available at libraries and online at https://help.linkcat.info.

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