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Libraries launches MNCAT Discovery and new website

University Libraries has launched a new default search tool called MNCAT Discovery, which is delivered via a new mobile-friendly website.

About MNCAT Discovery

MNCAT Discovery  features a single, “blended” search box from the Libraries home page at lib.umn.edu. The tool allows users to search and access the overwhelming majority of articles and other materials made available by the Libraries, as well as books and other Libraries holdings.

“If you’re on the Libraries website and you do a search in MNCAT Discovery, you’re going to be searching a combination of the traditional Libraries catalog — the things that are on our shelves — along with articles from newspapers, from academic journals, and e-book content that’s not in our regular catalog,” said Jan Fransen, a science and engineering librarian at Walter Library.

She added that users can choose to search only the catalog, for example, if they are looking for a specific book. “You can search using the Libraries Catalog for a specific item in a particular collection or in a particular library.” She added that users can also still search specific databases, such as Academic Search Premier, PubMed, or Web of Science.

Website optimized for mobile devices

The new website has a flexible, responsive design that is optimized for smart phones and tablets. Why? Because mobile use is growing rapidly as people use their smart phones and other devices to search the Internet. According to Cody Hanson, the Libraries acting director of web development, web traffic to the Libraries website from mobile devices has double in each of the last two years.

“We wanted to create a single site that works across the wide range of computing devices that we know are users are bringing to their studies and their research,” said Cody Hanson, acting director of web development at the Libraries. “And so we’ve made a site that is completely fluid, that has break points that make it useful for mobile devices, tablets, laptops, and desktops.”

For those with smart phones, it’s like having the Libraries’ catalog in your pocket anytime, anyplace – even in the stacks!

Website also built for speed

The website is also faster. “We wanted to make the site really fast,” Hanson said. “We want to make sure our researchers can get on with their business as quickly as possible — and we do that by making our new site load between two- and four-times faster than our old website.”

The implementation of MNCAT Discovery and the new website were part of a major overhaul that also included replacing an 11-year-old, legacy management system. The changes are meant to improve back-end operations for library staff and to improve the user experience for students, faculty, staff and others. 

Libraries officials note, however, that with such major change, there may be a few bumps in the road initially. Users who have comments or questions may submit feedback online.

Other changes of note

  • The Libraries has retired MNCAT Classic, which was built on top of the 11-year-old legacy management system that was replaced on December 26, 2013.
  • Faculty, staff, and students can now request books from the University Libraries at the click of a button. The Get It services includes delivery to any campus library location and an on-campus office delivery option for faculty and staff for materials owned at a Twin Cities campus library. Please note, the office delivery choice is unavailable in MNCAT Discovery until mid-February, but office deliveries can still be made. Please choose the closest library in Get-It and then email getit@umn.edu or contact that library’s service desk directly. Library staff will mail the item(s) to your office, if desired.
  • Circulation practices were standardized for all University of Minnesota campuses. As a result, loan periods, fine rates, and notices will change for some users. On the Twin Cities campus, the loan period for graduate and professional students will remain at 13 weeks, with an increased renewal limit of two years. For undergraduate students on the Twin Cities campus, loan periods will be extended from six weeks to 13 weeks.
Filed in News, Video by on January 22, 2014 0 Comments

About the Author ()

Mark Engebretson is the director of communications at the University of Minnesota Libraries and editor of continuum. Previously, Mark served as director of digital media strategy for the University of Minnesota School of Public Health and before that as electronic communications manager for the University of Minnesota's Academic Health Center Office of Communications. Mark is a former journalist who has written about politics, health, business, and sports for a number of newspapers and magazines. Mark has a B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in health journalism from the University of Minnesota.

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