CataList: Saving time, money, and sanity!

This guest post comes from Lynne Thorimbert, Service Delivery Manager at Marigold Library System.

Imagine a world where nearly 100 people from 36 public libraries send in order requests on thousands of print catalogues each year, which 1.5 FTE headquarters staff then have to collate and type into purchase orders. Nightmare?! Yes!

This was the situation for the Marigold Library System, which centralizes selection, ordering, and cataloguing for member libraries in south-central Alberta. The moment we heard about CataList at an Alberta Book Representatives Association book fair in 2011, we jumped to embrace it and volunteered for the CataList User Group. 

In 2014, Marigold initiated the first integrated library system (ILS) integration between CataList and Polaris (Innovative Interfaces). Marigold can now download CataList selections directly into purchase orders with item-assigned funds and branches, and brief MARC records that include ISBN, price, author, and title. 

CataList has transformed tasks that used to take weeks into something that can be done in an afternoon! By providing our acquisitions team with the ability to collate and send off orders for 36 libraries quickly and seamlessly, we estimate CataList saves Marigold staff 24 days or 168 hours of work per year!! 

Benefits of using CataList:

  • There is a reduction in errors because staff are no longer typing in data like ISBNs.
  • We no longer spend time tracking which libraries have returned which print catalogues.
  • We don’t have to decipher handwriting.
  • We no longer inadvertently overlook a print catalogue selection entirely.

CataList also offers value in the form of tracking and time savings for selectors. The visual layout makes CataList feel like a print catalogue but with the ability to generate instant reports and to review and edit selections before submitting for purchasing. The reporting tools enhance budget planning, especially as they include publication dates. Library staff can sort by format if allocating to different budget lines.

Other notable benefits of CataList (besides saving trees!):

  • Staff can do their ordering anywhere without hauling around stacks of catalogues. 
  • Library staff have immediate access, when they need it, to current and backlist catalogues. 
  • Selectors don’t need to wait for the next season of print catalogues to arrive — they can begin selecting the moment a new catalogue is uploaded to CataList. 
  • Multiple selectors can use CataList at one time.
  • Publishing reps don’t have to spend money generating and shipping multiple copies of print catalogues or blads. 
  • Since some publishers no longer issue print catalogues, CataList has also played a role in ensuring we see still those titles.

We ❤️ our publishing reps!

Our reps use CataList to communicate a variety of things and share selection lists. CataList makes it easy to locate series backlist, especially when selectors are reacting to renewed media interest, or a movie or TV show announcement. Selectors of children’s materials can see scans of illustrations and assess font styles and layouts. Our reps take advantage of CataList to help us integrate ebook, audiobook, and print selection, which has also led to significant workflow enhancements. 

CataList is integrated with vendor platforms

Whitehots links their vetted selection lists right to CataList so we can easily access detailed information on titles Whitehots is promoting. We also love that United Library Services uses CataList data to enhance their site for selection. For example, CataList produces web-friendly book covers for participating publishers into a size that’s quickly and easily converted onto the ULS website. This automation has saved ULS staff a notable amount of time and money.  

If you’re thinking “I wish CataList could do X," it’s likely already on the CataList team's radar. Marigold Library System gives a shout out to the CataList team for being incredibly proactive, collaborative, and always interested in looking at new features and functionality to improve this already fantastic platform.