Regina Public Library’s new troublesome search network

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The new system is a downgrade from the previous one

Author: Elisabeth Sahlmueller – Contributor

The Regina Public Library has had an important role within our community since the first one was built in downtown Regina in 1910. Over the years, our public libraries have grown from having only one location in the city, to now having nine that try their best to appeal to all age levels. They have a large number of books, movies, CD’s and other resources for people to borrow and have hosted various programs, contests, children’s activities, adult book clubs and guest speakers.

Five years ago, the Regina Public Library enlarged their collection by joining a Saskatchewan-wide library system. This gave Regina citizens access to thousands of additional materials at other libraries within our province. A few weeks ago, this library system was updated and the online search engine underwent maintenance and re-modeling. I am a huge supporter of the Regina Public Library and have been ever since I was little, so I hate to criticize it to any extent. However, I have to say that after seeing the new search engine, I am disappointed with the changes that have been made.

People may not think that our city’s libraries are popular places, but they are wrong. In the beginning of September, I went to a library book sale at the George Bothwell and left because the line-up was too long; it went all the way down the length of the library. This shows that many Regina citizens actually do go to the library. It’s also likely that many of these people utilize the library’s online network to renew their checked out items, search for material, or register for programs. With so many people using this search engine, it’s important that it works efficiently and is easy to understand. The old one worked well, so I believe that it was a poor decision to change to something completely different, as it has so many problems.

Some people had complaints about the previous library network and I know that it’s impossible to please everyone, but it was easy to navigate and many good features from it have been lost in the transition. Beforehand, individual books, movies and other items were easy to find. All someone had to do was click what material they wanted and type in the title and/or author’s name. Now that method is no longer available; someone can only type in a title and/or author’s name to search for the material that they want. Although this may not seem bad, it leaves that person stuck looking through countless pages to locate what they want. This is way too time-consuming and can make searching for a specific item a lot more frustrating than it should be.

A second problem is that even though more provincial libraries were added to the program, an individual is unable to search for material from all the libraries in Saskatchewan, which was a possibility in the previous system. In order to search for material at all provincial libraries, a person will have to click each library separately. Not only is this tedious, but not all the libraries come up as an option. The main idea of having a Saskatchewan-wide library system is to enable people to search for and borrow material from any library in the province, but the new system only makes this task more difficult.

I realize the intent of this upgrade was to improve the system, but in my opinion, I think the new online system is a downgrade from the previous one. Although 320 provincial libraries are now included within our system, giving Regina citizens access to so much more material, I wish this could have been achieved without changing the previous and adequate search engine. Simple is one way I would describe the look of it, but in this case, simplicity is not always better, especially when it’s missing essential features. Hopefully, there are still improvements to be made, because if not, there are going to be a lot of confused and unhappy Regina Public Library patrons.

 

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