If you haven’t been searching for books in the UW-Madison Libraries catalog this summer, you might notice a significant change when you click “Search” on the library homepage.

The Libraries launched a new catalog in May 2012, and over the summer months it enjoyed a lot of use by faculty, staff, and students. The new catalog has an interface not unlike Amazon or other commercial products, making it instantly familiar to users, whether they be a first-time student or a seasoned faculty member, staff member, or returning student.

A key feature of the new catalog is its ability to search the UW-Madison Libraries catalog and then to seamlessly expand that search to the entire UW System. This means that you can quickly search the more than 8.6 million records in the UW System, find materials held by any System campus, and place requests for those items to be delivered to your Madison campus library of choice.

The catalog is optimized for iPads and other mobile devices, so you can easily browse for books on the bus or while standing within the library stacks. User feedback offered vital guidance during the catalog’s development, and continues to be important as staff work to fine-tune its usability and other features. Over the summer the developers received a list of suggestions on how to make the interface even more user-friendly. Do you have comments to help make the catalog even better? Add your feedback.

One new feature users are especially pleased with is the ability to refine searches. Once you search for, say, dairy farming (which returns over 1,100 items), you can then limit the search to a specific library (like Steenbock Library), a specific format (like books, journals, or DVDs), or a particular language, like German – all on the initial search screen. Additional features in Advanced Search allow you to limit by dates, call numbers, publishers and different formats, such as music scores or maps. The titles are often enhanced with book covers, providing graphic appeal.

Kelli Keclik, a member of the development task force that included project manager Curran Riley, developer Eric Larson and others, had this to say about the new library catalog: “This was a huge group effort, and library staff [gave] us some great feedback. We can’t wait until the students and faculty return to campus and put this catalog through its paces.”

So…looking for a copy of this year’s Go Big Read book, Radioactive by Lauren Redniss? Try the new library catalog.