U-M Library upgrading technology to improve user experience


An upcoming overhaul of the platform that allows users to find, request and borrow materials will bring changes to U-M Library services and interfaces.

The current technology, which is more than 30 years old, is out-of-sync with modern computing standards and doesn’t meet the needs of a large collection that includes an expanding variety of materials and formats, from streaming video to a book made of cheese.

After many months of preparation, the library is approaching the final stage, which requires the migration of the library’s entire catalog — more than 12 million items — into the new platform. This migration will begin around mid-June and will take up to six weeks to complete.

Throughout the process, users will be able to find, borrow and request materials as usual, but the catalog will not be updated. Items that arrive while the migration is underway, and requests for new items, will be processed after the changeover.

“For the most part, the new system will operate behind the scenes,” said Ellen Mueller, project co-lead and director of the library’s Technical Services department.

She said while there will not be any changes to the materials offered or to the methods used to access them, how some things look will be different.

The “My Account” page — the access point for information about requested and borrowed materials, favorites, checkout history, and fees and fines — will be updated to provide more complete information about accounts.

Also, some search results may look different, because the new system will sometimes list print and electronic versions of the same publications as separate items.

The most significant change will be the retirement of Mirlyn Classic, an older version of the library catalog that offers a few features not otherwise available, among them browsing by titles and call numbers.

The library will incorporate many of these Mirlyn Classic features into the ongoing work to update and improve Library Search. There will also be added on-screen guidance, and documentation about how to perform equivalent functions when Mirlyn Classic is retired.

The guide to Library Search will be kept current with the latest updates and improvements.

Mueller expects the migration and related interface changes to be complete by the end of the summer.

“It’s a massive undertaking,” she said, “and one that, like so many things, has been disrupted by the pandemic. So at this point we don’t have an exact start date for when the migration will begin.”

The library website has a section dedicated to the technology system change that will be updated regularly.

Direct questions, or express interest in participating in user surveys or testing, to ls-initiative-info@umich.edu.


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