It is no secret that libraries love to share.

In fact, all 77 member libraries of the SWAN consortium, including the public libraries in Oak Park, River Forest, and Forest Park, are committed to sharing resources and getting their communities the materials and services they need, when and where they need them. That is why we are all eager to welcome a new online catalog to do just that — and more.

After 18 months of planning, gathering member feedback, and testing the system, SWAN will roll out its new catalog for all member libraries in April. The change affects 1 million library cardholders in northeastern Illinois, ranging geographically from Harwood Heights to south suburban Beecher. The new SirsiDynix system will publicly replace the current catalog on April 14. More than 23,000 library facilities in more than 70 countries use SirsiDynix products and services to bring the power of knowledge and information to 300 million users worldwide.

Closer to home, the new online catalog gives SWAN cardholders more choices and new features to help customize and streamline their experience. Behind the scenes for library staff, the new system is flexible and robust enough that it paves the way for future improvements and permits even more libraries to work together.

Getting ready

Since January, library staff members have logged hundreds of hours of training at SWAN’s Burr Ridge headquarters, at individual libraries, and through self-guided tutorials. The goal is to ensure that library staff can confidently walk everyone through the basics and help users take advantage of the more elaborate bells and whistles.

To prepare for launch, all SWAN libraries are asking cardholders to update their email addresses and phone numbers before April 10. The last four digits of the phone number listed on a cardholder’s account will serve as their new personal identification number (PIN) when the new catalog launches.

To make the technical switch, the current online catalog will be view-only from Saturday, April 11 through Tuesday, April 14. That means no online requests, renewals, or account access will be available. To help support cardholders during this time, due dates have been extended and fines will be frozen during those four days. Cardholders will be able to check out available items and return materials in person at the library.

On Wednesday, April 15, the new catalog and online account access is expected to be up and running, offering anywhere, anytime access to 1.4 million unique titles.

What’s new?

After launch, users can search, check out, and place holds on all items, including ebooks and e-audiobooks, two formats that previously required separate logins and websites. Borrowed digital content will also show up in cardholders’ online accounts, another change to improve the online catalog experience. More post-launch opt-in features, such as Pickup Anywhere and text notifications, will give cardholders more choice and flexibility when using their library. 

We hope everyone in our communities has an opportunity to use this new tool to get what they want, when they want it, from their library. Visit your local library’s website any time after April 15 with your library card number and PIN to log in and get started.

David J. Seleb is executive director of the Oak Park Public Library; Sophia Anastos is director of the River Forest Public Library; and Rodger Brayden is director of the Forest Park Public Library

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