Low Tech New Book Lists for your Library

Maybe your ILS doesn’t offer a new books list feature.  Maybe the person who knew how to do it moved far, far away.  Maybe you know how to do it with your ILS, but it seems too complicated.  Or maybe you just don’t like the way your current new books list looks and works. If your library has holdings in OCLC, you have some free options online for giving patrons a New Books List using WorldCat – whether or not your library is a Local WorldCat subscriber.

These are options that we’ve considered at Briar Cliff University’s library – which has a small collection with less than a hundred new additions each month.

Option 1: WorldCat Profile

If monthly updates are frequent enough for you, you can find your library profile in WorldCat, which includes items added last month.  For example, here is Briar Cliff University’s profile where you can also search for your own library: http://www.worldcat.org/libraries/1007 .  The information on your library’s WorldCat profile is taken from the WorldCat Registry.

Briar Cliff's WorldCat Profile

This New Books List will automatically update to show last month’s new items, around the first of each month.  Here is an example of a larger library’s profile page: Sioux City Public Library. This will be limited to 500 items, so if your library wants to feature a lot more than that, the next options might suit you better.

Options 2 & 3: Lists and Tags

You can create an alternative to the WorldCat Profile by setting up a free WorldCat user account for your library. Here is Briar Cliff’s WorldCat user account profile vs. our WorldCat Registry profile.

Having a WorldCat user account gives you a number of features:

  • mark “favorite” libraries
  • save searches
  • add reviews to items
  • add tags to items
  • watch lists created by other users
  • create lists

At Briar Cliff, we are in between two OPACs at the moment.  We still have the simple but clumsy one from our ILS provider, and we are experimenting with Local WorldCat as a free Quick Start user.  The WorldCat interface gives us and our users far more options and enhancements than we can get from our ILS catalog interface, such as Google Books previews, user reviews from other websites, automatic citation formats, and integration with several social networking platforms.

The two features we’ll look at in terms of promoting new books are WorldCat Lists and WorldCat Tags.  Here is a comparison of how these might be used by your library:

Lists Tags
limit of 500 items no limit, see the fiction tag as an example
Lists can be public or private. Tags are only public.
Lists keep a running total of how many times they’ve been viewed by WorldCat users other than the list owner. Tags do not show any statistics or view counts.
Lists can have an overall description and individual notes on each item. Tags cannot add notes to individual items.
Lists have 3 different view options: Details, Covers, and Citations – which also provides export into various formats and style guides. Tags only have 1 view, but can be easily selected and moved into a list in bulk.
Only the user account that created the list can add items to the list, so anyone adding items to the library’s new books list would have to be logged into the library’s WorldCat user account. Any WorldCat user can use any tag on any item, so you might get other people’s items mixed into your tags. However, it is possible to distinguish between items tagged by one user vs. items tagged by everyone. Tags might be a better option for team efforts.
Examples of library’s using lists for their new books It’s harder to search specifically for tags in WorldCat. From what I’ve been able to find, the only way to do it is to manipulate the URL like this: http://briarcliff.worldcat.org/tags/new.

At my library, we have a library gmail address which we used as our WorldCat login.  For the time being, we’re experimenting with both a WorldCat list and using tags. We’re also toying with the idea of using tags or lists to distinguish new books for specific departments on campus.