Library gets new catalog system

University Librarian Alice Prochaska isn’t hiding her excitement about the unveiling of the new Orbis after five years of development.

“It is a moment of jubilation,” Prochaska said.

The new system replaced the former electronic library catalog in July, and archivist Nancy Lyon said it has met with success after overcoming some early bugs.

Lyon, the publicist for the new system, said there were “a few hiccups” at the beginning, but added that now the system is running smoothly and has received a positive response from students.

The old Orbis was a stand-alone system that did not interact with other aspects of the library Web interface, said Frederick Martz, the director of technology for the project. He added that serious problems would have cropped up within a few years and that the old system made the work for the library management and staff many times more difficult than necessary.

“[It was like] the green screens of the ’70s and early ’80s,” Martz said.

Martz and Lyon, director of publicity for the project, mentioned two specific areas in which they believe the new system greatly improves upon the old one.

The first is the self-service capacity of the new Orbis — now the user can access his or her own library account from the main menu of Orbis. Additionally, Eli Express, in which books and materials are delivered to the Yale library of choice, is available at the click of a button.

The second new feature of the new system is its international language capabilities. The new Orbis can now search and produce results for many of the books in foreign languages, and the search engine supports Roman, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese and Arabic characters.

In addition to these two major features, overall the system is more “comprehensive” and “user friendly,” Martz said.

This program has been in the works for about five years: a little over two years spent on design, research and preparation for the project, and another similar time period spent on intensive work on the program itself. The company that helped design and supply the program, Endeavor Information Systems, has designed similar programs for Princeton, Cornell, and the Library of Congress.

“All in all, it will deliver a dramatic increase in productivity,” Martz said.

He also emphasized that the new system can change to keep up with advances in technology.

Since school has only been in session for two weeks, some Yalies have not yet seen the new system.

Liai Duong ’05 said she thought the old system was OK, but added that she was not yet familiar with the new one. Other students said the old Orbis did not produce the results they needed.

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