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BiblioCommons 2013: A Year in Review

2013 was another exciting and action-packed year for the BiblioCommons Team. BiblioCommons product offerings continue to evolve from a catalog to a complete online public library experience—with newly developed services such BiblioDigital and BiblioCMS, new tools to improve both customer service and staff efficiency such as the Suggest for Purchase module, and much more development around online engagement and supporting literacy via Summer Sites.

Large, Innovative Libraries Partner with BiblioCommons

Chicago Public Library and King County Library System both signed new contracts and adopted the BiblioCore catalog in 2013. Chicago Public Library Foundation also funded the development of the new BiblioCMS which is now rolling out to other BiblioCommons libraries and is live in soft launch at Chicago Public.

Leading the Way for eBook Integration and Creating New Opportunities

BiblioCommons continued to lead the way in eBook integration for public libraries—going beyond basic discovery integration to developing an entirely new platform with BiblioDigital. Build around interoperable, horizontal layers rather than an independent vertical stack, BiblioDigital is designed to make eBooks work more like physical books for libraries—fully integrated into the catalog, a universal library-branded reading interface that doesn’t require patrons to download software, and purchasing with portable rights and flexibility for future decision-making. BiblioDigital was first demonstrated in an alpha version at Midwinter 2013, and was live in beta with New York Public and Brooklyn Public libraries in May and live with Edmonton Public Library in December.

Although BiblioCommons is forging new paths for eBook access, the team continues to support API-based integrations as part of the basic BiblioCore service and worked with 3M, OverDrive and Baker & Taylor to integrate eBooks into the catalog and patron borrowing experience.

Growing the BiblioCommons Team: A Focus on Innovation and Development

The BiblioCommons team grew to just over 50 people in 2013, but with a continued focus on hiring developers, product specialists, and user-experience professionals as we continue to innovate, enhance current services, and build new products to address public library challenges.

New ILS’s Supported

BiblioCommons also developed new connectors to support additional integrated library systems. In 2013, new connectors to VTLS and Carl.X were completed which brings the total list of ILS’s supported to 8—in addition to VTLS and Carl.X, BiblioCommons also supports integrations with Polaris, Millennium, Sierra, Horizon, Symphony and Evergreen.

Summer Sites Enhancements

Summer Sites went live with more libraries, and new functionality was added including the ability to create, share and take quizzes. A number of libraries experimented with year-round sites to continue to build community engagement around reading and the library’s collections.

New Suggest for Purchase Module

The new Suggest for Purchase Module was also built with the input of partner libraries to allow libraries to track and automate patron requests—improving staff efficiency and customer service. Suggest for Purchase Module went live in beta with Ottawa Public, Edmonton Public, and Yarra Plenty Regional Library.

New Events Module in Development

BiblioEvents will be a visually appealing events module that features programs and integration with catalog search results. Development in 2013 was informed by input from existing libraries. The Events Module will be part of the new BiblioCMS live in soft launch with Chicago Public, but will also be spun off and available to serve libraries who are subscribing to BiblioCore as well.

Account Linking: One set of shelves and lists, Multiple library accounts

A very exciting development in 2013 was the availability of account linking. Account linking enables patrons (and staff) to have one username and a single set of shelves and lists linked up to their accounts at different libraries. Linking can be done during the registration process or afterwards between any libraries that have the BiblioCore catalog.

When patrons have linked accounts, they can log in to any of their library accounts with their usernames, and quickly toggle between them to manage holds and checked out titles. They can also add titles to shelves and lists from either account.

The feature went live in 2013 between the King County Library System and The Seattle Public Library.

Input from Libraries Determines Development Priorities

In 2013, BiblioCommons ran a series of surveys with partner libraries to identify and prioritize upcoming development and enhancements. The results were shared with the first-ever meeting of the BiblioCommons Users Group at ALA in Chicago and via webinar.

New BiblioCore Functionality and Features

While many new enhancements are in development to enhance the user experience and update the BiblioCore catalog, the team released a number of new features and enhancements for BiblioCore in 2013 including:

  • Sharing and featuring individual contributions in the catalog
    While permanent URLs were always supported in the catalog for lists, bib pages, searches and all other screens, in 2013 we added permanent URLs to individually contributed content items such as comments, ratings, videos, quotes and more, to better support sharing and promoting an individual’s recommendations.
  • New Star Rating Facet and Sorting Option
    A new facet has been added that enables users to filter search results by average rating range— 2 to 3 stars, 3 to 4 stars, or 4 or more stars. Users can also use it to display only unrated titles.  As well, users can sort search results by average rating. The highest rated items are first. Unrated items are last, following the titles with the lowest average ratings.
  • Enhancements to Curated Lists: Images for Recommended Websites
    One of the advantages of curated lists is to help promote great free web resources, licensed database content, local history collections and any webpage that the library staff member or patron wants to promote. Now these weblinks are more visually appealing with thumbnail screenshots automatically added with any weblink on a curated list.
  • Traditional Chinese Interface Added
    The BiblioCore interface is now available in traditional Chinese, bringing the available languages to six — English, French, Spanish, Russian, simplified Chinese, and now traditional Chinese. Japanese is in development as well.
  • NoveList Select Support Improvements
    The NoveList Select logic was modified to display the NoveList link on bib pages for Paperbacks and Large Print titles, as well as for Books.
  • Bib Page Changes
    The Full Record tab of the bib display has been modified to more closely follow OCLC standards. Changes include bib field reordering, field label changes, and more consistent label capitalization. Field display has been standardized across all libraries. Printing has also been optimized to improve printout readability. In Chrome, there’s a print preview available to review before printing.
  • ADA Compliance & Improved accessibility
    To improve accessibility, BiblioCommons continues to make BiblioCore easier to use with a screen reader. Improvements include enhancements to the Login popup, comment box, availability details popup, advanced search page, drop-down menus and carousels.
  • Enhanced Bestsellers Support
    The Los Angeles Times bestsellers were added to the list of available bestsellers, and can be enabled for any library as part of the basic BiblioCore subscription.
  • RDA Support
    BiblioCore supports the new RDA standards. In general, if a field was displayed before, its RDA equivalent is also displayed. The same is true for indexing. Existing fields will continue to be displayed and indexed for backwards compatibility. RDA support will continue to evolve as we find additional ways to use this new information.
  • Suggest a Username in Registration
    If the username a patron requests during registration is not available, a suggestion based on the desired username appears when you tab or click outside of the Create a Username field. For example, if someone already has the username Bookfiend,  Bookfiend_13 might be suggested.
  • Improved Visibility for Call Number Search
    Call Number has been added to the drop-down list of options on the Advanced Search page that you can include or exclude. A wild card character (*) is appended to any call number you enter, so users don’t need to be precise. For example, if users enter 330 as the call number, the actual search will be callnumber:(“330*”), and it will return everything that begins with that call number.
  • Better Handling of Electronic Resources
    When eresources have items attached, the left sidebar of the bib page may display information that is not relevant, including total copies, availability and shelf location, as if the item had a physical form. We’ve added a setting that will ignore the item and remove the irrelevant information, leaving only a link to the resource.
  • List Page Improvements
    The list page display has been enhanced to use space more effectively. Thumbnails are larger and a number of other formatting changes were enacted to enhance the overall user experience.
  • Pickup Location Scope
    For libraries that are part of a consortium, available pickup locations are currently tied to search scope. We’ve added a separate pickup scope to provide more flexibility.
  • MARC Rules Viewer
    The MARC Rules Viewer has been enabled for all libraries with the BiblioCore catalog. Libraries canuse it to view their existing format mapping rules, and to determine why individual titles are mapped to their currently displayed format. The MARC Rules Viewer is accessible through the Lib Admin interface.
  • Improved Search for CJK Titles
    Finding Chinese, Japanese and Korean titles is now easier with improvements to original script indexing and search.
  • New Formats in the Facets
    New formats have been created for Pass (such as Museum Passes), Pre-loaded Video Player, and Book Plus DVD-ROM.
  • Receiving Feedback by Email
    In addition to downloading patron feedback in an Excel spreadsheet, library administrators can now receive each piece of feedback by email. This gives library admins the flexibility to respond quickly to patron queries that require a timely response, while still being able to view all feedback within a specified time period to get a “big picture” view of trends.
  • Card Expiration Notification
    When a patron’s library card is coming up for renewal, the patron will now see the expiration date displayed at the top of the account summary block. This block appears on the default landing page and on all of the My Borrowing pages, ensuring that the patron is likely to see it. The notice appears when the card is 60 days from expiring. The date appears first on an orange background, changing to red when the expiry date is 30 days or less from the date.  The expiry date displayed in the account summary block links to the patron’s Personal Information page, where the expiry date is also shown. Libraries can add a link next to the expiry date to their existing online card renewal page, or to a page on their website with renewal information.
  • Easy Account Configuration Page During Registration
    At the end of the registration process, we’ve added a page that collects many user-configurable settings in one convenient place. This page improves the visibility of these features, and allows a new patron to make configuration choices without having to find the page that controls each setting. These settings for each of these features also remain in their previous locations, so that they can be changed in the future if necessary.