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Mary Riley Styles Gets a Tech-Over

The Falls Church City Library Introduces New, User-Friendly Cataloglibstory

After 10 years of enduring an antiquated system, recent upgrades to the Mary Riley Styles Library Integrated Library System has made time between bookshelves a whole lot easier for patrons and librarians alike.

 

“Working with the new system has made operations much faster than with the old clunker,” said Mary Riley’s head of automation, Lynn Stewart.

Stewart, who’s seen the library computer system evolve over the past 28 years, installed the new, $120,000 system last week, with help from City Hall technicians.

“The new program, Innovative Interfaces, Inc., or Triple-I, as we call it, is more intuitive than the system we’d used for 10 years,” Stewart said.

Employees at Mary Riley have received nine days of training with the new system, with the acquisitions department yet to undergo a separate, three-day training.

Patrons have been “reasonably happy with the system’s self-sufficiency,” said Marshall Webster, the head of the reference department. “We anticipated that people might be somewhat startled by the new interface.”

The new online catalog, Encore, “operates much like a Google search,” he said, and is far more user-friendly than before.

“Before, the system was like an old card catalog on steroids,” Marshall joked, noting that the new program allows patrons to type in a simple search of a title or author name, which Encore will recognize to conduct a more refined search.

The page of search results is sleek, sorted by relevance, with options to narrow the search by a number of fields. The item’s due date, hold requests and keywords are displayed in a neat interface, with images of the item’s front cover to the side. By clicking on the cover image, patrons can view the table of contents.

The recent switch also improves patrons’ access to their own records and their ability to pay fines online, Stewart said. She added the library hopes to have the online payment system active by next week.

Patrons can also view their past checked out items, with the option to tailor the list.

With an ability to send overdue notices immediately upon the due date, Stewart said the new system goes hand in hand with the library’s move to go paperless.

“Before we’d send out a notice two weeks later. Now we can send an e-mail two days before the due date, one on the due date and so on,” she said.

“It’s made life a lot easier for us, too,” Stewart added. The new system allows the librarians to update and change the catalog electronically.

“When the library decided to put all of the travel guides into one section devoted to travel, I had to scan the books individually, changing their call numbers and updating the computer,” Stewart said. “That’s completely changed. Now, tasks like that are made with a simple switch on the computer.”

However, she said the main concern is how the public will feel about the new catalog. The library is offering monthly classes, with sessions throughout the library’s open hours, to train patrons how to maneuver within Encore. Interested patrons can inquire at or call the library’s Reference Desk. “We recognize the changes may be disorienting, and we’re happy to offer individual tutoring,” Webster added.

Patrons can access Encore through the Mary Riley Styles web site, www.falls-church.lib.va.us, or directly by visiting encore.fallschurchva.gov. The library is located at 120 N. Virginia Ave. in Falls Church.