Next, they’re going to hide all the books

Yesterday, the Hennepin County Library system merged the websites for HCL and Minneapolis Public Library. The catalogs and accounts are still separate, but the URL for the Minneapolis Library redirects to HCL. It’s one of the steps they’re taking to merge the two online systems, which, from what I’ve heard, they’re undertaking with absolutely no money available to them. Changes that I’ve found include a “Welcome, Minneapolis website users!” message on the front page, and when you click on the Library Catalog or My Account links, you’re given the option to look at either the HCL or MPL sections of the site (you can also select one of those as your default).

If you select the Minneapolis catalog, you’re taken to the Minneapolis catalog website, which always seemed to be separate from the MPL website. However, if you go to view the My Account section, and you select Minneapolis, you type in your library card number and PIN. You’re then only given two pieces of information about your account: the number of items you have checked out and how much you owe in fines. It may tell you if you have any items overdue, but since I don’t currently have any, I can’t be sure about that. If you want any other detail, like which books you have out, when they’re due, or if you want to renew them, you’re directed to log in to the MPL catalog, which means you type in your card number and PIN again.

I know I’m not a typical library user, often having books out from 3 or 4 different library systems (the most I’ve had out were books from 6 of the TC systems at once–Mpls, St Paul, Hennepin, Ramsey, Dakota, and Washington counties), so I’ve added bookmarks to all the separate library systems to my browser’s toolbar. I’m going to be editing the MPL bookmark to take me directly to the MPL catalog, sidestepping the hoops needed to jump through to get to it going through the HCL page. This might skew their website statistics, especially if many of their website users do this. But I’m a heavy user of the various library catalogs, enough that I’ve actually memorized my library card number, and I’m going to set things up to make it easier for me to navigate the systems whenever possible.

As an aside, I recently posted on my own blog about certain publishing industry woes, and wondering what effect the various economic downturns will have on public libraries

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