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Out with the old, in with the... old?

Dec 5, 2012 2:38 PM | 0 comments

If you've visited our library catalog recently, you may have been surprised to see that a quiet revolution has taken place.  In place of the clunky old catalog homepage there is a slick new interface that more closely resembles an online shopping hub or social networking site than the physical card catalog of yore.  New features allow for more interactivity -- you can tag books with keywords and rate your favorites -- and a robust, behind-the-scenes algorithm (powered by Bibliocommons) provides more relevant search results based on the millions of other patrons searching for materials on catalogs across the country.  Web 2.0 has arrived at Brooklyn Public Library! 

Above, a young patron does her best with a less than user-friendly card catalog of old.

While the new catalog interface may be great for locating a copy of the latest bestseller or for linking you to books you may like based on your past reading habits, it is not optimal for accessing the more obscure photographs, rare books, maps, ephemera, and films housed here in the Brooklyn Collection.  This is something that our trusty old catalog did a pretty good job of, and so we present for you today a quick tutorial on how you can still find all our research materials with a minimum of effort.

When you visit the library's homepage, you'll see the "Library Catalog" link in the green menubar on the left.  Clicking this will take you to the new Bibliocommons catalog.  

Don't panic!  Our old interface, henceforth referred to as the "Classic Catalog", is still available, and still offers the best searching functionality for discovering items in the Brooklyn Collection.  If you scroll to the bottom of the new catalog page, you'll see the Classic Catalog link on the lower right, sandwiched between "Location & Hours" and "Library Policies".  

You can also navigate to the Classic Catalog directly, via this link:  I'll run through a sample search to show you how I used the Classic Catalog to find the adorable card catalog photo at the beginning of this post.   

In the search bar, I ran a keyword search for the term "catalog" (searching "catalog" in a catalog?  It's like standing between two mirrors and glimpsing into infinity...).  Using the drop-down menu to the right of the search bar, I limited my search results to items in the Brooklyn Collection. 

This search yielded 45 results but several of these records referred to books, not photographs.  To winnow my results down to only photographs, I clicked on the "Advanced Search" tab directly under the search bar.  This takes you to a new page with a variety of options for fine-tuning your search results.  For the purposes of this search, I clicked on the drop-down menu for "Material Type" and chose "Photograph".

My refined search returned 33 photographs, including the photograph I posted above.  By the same token, if you want to search for only books without getting photographs in your results, you can choose "Printed Material" from the advanced search page to weed out images. 

Because of the varied nature of our collection, not all of our materials are represented in the catalog, which was designed to track books and serial publications.  Our historic prints, newspapers, ephemera, city directories, manuscript collections, etc., etc., are still most easily found through our home page at (you can also find us on the lefthand menu bar via Brooklyn Public Library's homepage).  Our special digital collections, like the Brooklyn Daily Eagle Online and Fulton Street Trade Card collection are unaffected by the new catalog, and can be found via our Digital Collections page.  As always, if you have any questions about finding materials please feel free to call us at 718.230.2762 or write to  Happy hunting! 

Above, a photo from Coney Island's Steeplechase Park, which I found by searching for the term "hunting" in our Classic Catalog.