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A Quick Look Back: New BiblioCommons Services and Developments of 2012

eBooks, education, and online engagement were the focus of the BiblioCommons team in 2012. In addition to exciting new services and enhancements, BiblioCommons cheerfully welcomed new partner libraries from large urban and suburban areas including Brooklyn Public Library (NY), Austin Public Library (TX), Multnomah County Library (OR), Omaha Public Library (NE), Tulsa City-County Library (OK), Princeton Public Library (NJ), Central Rappahannock Regional Library (VA), Salt Lake City Public Library (UT), Santa Monica Public Library (CA), and others. A full listing of libraries live with the BiblioCore catalog are featured on our website at: Also in 2012, we happily celebrated our fifth anniversary! We look forward to an exciting 2013, but first, a quick look back on the new services and enhancements launched in 2012.

eBooks Fully Integrated Into the Catalog and Live at Large Urban Public Libraries

In January of 2012, BiblioCommons became the first software vendor to fully integrate OverDrive titles, downloads and account management into the public library patron catalog. Seattle Public, Boston Public and New York Public Library patrons all enjoyed digital book access, downloading and management intermingled with physical titles.

Multiple eBook Vendors Fully Integrated into the Catalog at New York Public Library

In September, BiblioCommons and 3M worked together to integrate 3M Cloud titles into the New York Public Library catalog, along with OverDrive titles and the traditional library collection. This was the first live instance of a software vendor providing integration of multiple e-content vendors into the web catalog.

Bringing the Collections of Three NYC Libraries Together to Support Schools

BiblioSchools went live as the first union catalog of its kind to integrate the public library collections of Brooklyn Public, New York Public, and Queens Library together with the public schools of New York City.  The BiblioSchools project connects the immense resources of the incredible public libraries of NYC directly with the students of NYC via their school library catalogs.  Thanks to the NYC Department of Education and a generous grant from Citibank. See Mayor Bloomberg announce BiblioSchools at a press conference:

Polaris Connector Completed and Two Polaris Libraries Live with BiblioCommons, More Connectors on the Way

In June, Santa Monica Public Library became the first library to go live with both BiblioCommons and Polaris.  Later in the year, Boston Public, migrated from Horizon to Polaris, keeping their BiblioCommons patron catalog throughout the process.  In other connector news, BiblioCommons developed a VTLS connector, started work on Carl.X, and Princeton Public Library migrated from Millennium to Sierra with BiblioCommons running throughout the migration without any difficulty at all. To date, BiblioCommons supports connectors to the following ILS/LMS: Horizon, Millennium, Sierra, Symphony, Evergreen, Polaris, VTLS, and coming soon, Carl.X.

BiblioCommons Summer Sites Engage and Connect

Also in June, Summer Sites went live with Edmonton Public, Brooklyn Public, Ottawa Public, New York Public, Queens Library, Santa Clara County Library District, Seattle Public, and many other libraries—fully integrating the engagement of summer reading programs into the catalog.  The Summer Sites module encourages staff and patrons to engage with the collection and play with badges and avatars. Summer Sites were in beta in 2011, and live with a only few test libraries, but in the first year of production, the feature list included:

  • Full integration with the catalog
  • Integration with the library’s branding and navigation
  • Customizable look and feel
  • Configuration options for Kids, Teens and Adult Summer Reading programs
  • Preconfigured and Custom Badges
  • Avatars
  • Registration with and without a library barcode
  • Reading time tracking option
  • Printable certificates of participation

Comments, lists and other contributions shared by Summer Site participants are visible to other BiblioCommons users to aid in discovery. Titles that participants track via Summer Sites are not lost at the end of the summer as the titles are also archived on their Completed Shelves via the catalog. Shelves for life via your local public library!

BiblioCore Search Improvements

In addition to a number of basic usability improvements, the following enhancements were launched:

  • BiblioCore “Superformats” and Search Facet Redesign

The facets that appear in the left sidebar of search results and shelves were significantly redesigned to provide new functionality and a better user experience.

  • Saved Searches

Users can now save searches to re-run at a later time.

  • Improved handling of numeric search terms

BiblioCore recognizes the connection between text and numeric versions of numbers.  For example, a search for 50 shades of grey will return Fifty Shades of Grey, even when 50 Shades of Grey is not cataloged as an alternate title.

  • RSS feeds for search results

Users can use RSS feeds to be notified of latest additions to the collection.

Expired and Cancelled Holds for Symphony Libraries

For libraries using Symphony, it’s now possible to display tabs listing expired and cancelled holds. Whenever possible, BiblioCommons ensures that functionality and features across all BiblioCore libraries are consistent, regardless of availability via the various ILS options.

Improved Staff Functionality in the Patron Catalog

BiblioCommons developed a number of new features to support staff-side functionality in BiblioCore:

  • MARC Rules Viewer

To provide transparency to format mapping rules and help libraries diagnose format mapping errors, there is a new tool called the MARC Rules Viewer that is accessible through the Library Admin interface.

  • Improved System Messages

BiblioCommons provides functionality for libraries to add messages right in the catalog. We updated the system messages WYSIWYG editor from one that used the markdown system for formatting to one that uses standard HTML.

  • Easier Admin Creation and Tiered Permissions

The Lib Admin interface has a new Manage Permissions page. This enables an existing library administrator to create other administrators by entering a barcode and assigning its owner a role.  Staff can also be assigned for permissions to certain tasks, rather than the whole Lib Admin panel (e.g. ability to run a feedback report)

  • Takeover of Patron Accounts

Staff with the appropriate permissions can temporarily take control of a patron account by entering the user’s barcode or username. This enables front-line staff to place a hold or demonstrate a feature for a patron without having to log out of their own accounts or use a separate interface. For the Summer Sites, it also enables library staff to gain access to a participant’s account if the user has registered without a barcode and has forgotten the account information.

  • Unlocking a Locked Patron Account

If a user blocks herself from her account through consecutive invalid password entries, staff can unblock the account using the staff interface.

Better Behind the Scenes Performance

To improve performance, BiblioCommons began using the Amazon CloudFront service as it’s CDN provider in December. We also replaced our hardware load balancer with a new software load balancer HA (high availability) pair. This will reduce SSL connection latencies, and improve overall speed.

Here’s to another exciting year! Happy 2013!