by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director
The Manhattan Public Library’s catalog is much more than a list of the books, DVDs, CDs, and other types of materials in the library’s collection. If we dissect a catalog record, we find a treasure trove of information about books and authors to enhance the searching experience.
Let’s search for Harper Lee’s new novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” for example. The first screen, the results of your catalog search, gives you what’s called a brief record. In addition to the title and author, this includes the call number, copies available, cover image, and buttons on the right for the full display, and to place a request or hold on an item that is checked out. You might be tempted to stop there, but don’t.
By clicking the Full Display button, or on the title, you’ll discovery much more. The full record includes a brief summary of the title, a list of subject headings assigned to the title, and genres. The author, subjects, and genres are hot links. Click on them for additional titles by the author, or of the same subject or genre. You might even be tempted to stop there, but again, don’t.
Scroll down the page for a link to expert fiction and nonfiction recommendations for books and audiobooks provide by NoveList. Click on the NoveList bar for reviews of “Go Set a Watchman,” author and title read-alikes, and an extensive list of the book’s appeal terms. Appeal terms address the question of why readers enjoy a particular book, and include genre, tone, location of the story, writing style, and subject. You can get to NoveList from your catalog search, or by selecting it from the Research page of the library’s website. Avid readers use NoveList to browse by genre (mysteries, romance, and science fiction among others), appeal terms, and award winners.
Continue to scroll down for suggestions of other titles in a series, similar series by other authors, similar titles, and a list of authors you might also find appealing. Keep scrolling for recommended lists and articles from NoveList, followed by reader reviews and ratings provided by Goodreads.
Goodreads is the largest social network for readers. Its members rate and review books, offering personal opinions to help other readers determine if they would enjoy a title. In our example, “Go Set a Watchman,” Goodreads includes over 8,500 reviews by readers just like you. Not bad for a book that was only published July 15. You can browse other readers’ reviews, or add your own. Click the write a review button, and sign up for Goodreads with your email address. If you’re already a member, click the sign in button on the right.
Don’t stop yet. Scroll on for professional reviews from trade journals including “Library Journal,” “School Library Journal,” “Publishers Weekly,” and “Booklist.”
Once you’ve found a great title to read (or view, or listen to), don’t stop yet. There is so much more you can do in the library’s catalog. Do you need to change your address, phone number, or email address? You can do so by logging into your account with your library card number and password. You can see a list of the items checked out to you, and their due dates. You can renew items. You can place items on hold. You can request to borrow an item through interlibrary loan, or make a purchase request for items you don’t find in the catalog. You can request a personalized reading list prepared by one of our expert librarians. You can create a list of titles you might want to read later, or save a search you made in the catalog, that will remain a part of your account after you log out. In addition the catalog features lists of newly arrived books on CD, music CDs, books, and videos. You can even see what items the library has on order.
Your library catalog takes the guess work out of choosing something good to read, view, or listen to. Remember that if you need assistance, library staff is another excellent resource for ideas on what to check out.