Students using the library for research will soon notice a change in one of its main tools. A new version of CBBcat, the joint online catalogue for the Bowdoin, Bates and Colby libraries, went live yesterday. 

New features include the ability to request a loan from Colby or Bates from within the catalogue, fewer duplicate results in searches, and the ability to search only for currently available materials.

The original version of CBBcat was launched in 2009, and although libraries from the three schools have shared resources since the 1970s, each school maintained its local systems and servers. 

The upgrade aims to centralize the system for searching the schools’ catalogues. With the update, all three catalogues use the same software and are hosted on the same server, located at Bowdoin. 

“We’re really building our collections together,” said Associate Librarian Judy Montgomery. “In order for students and faculty to really find what’s important to them, it’s important for them to be able to see what’s at all three libraries.”

Extended loan periods for seniors and faculty now not only apply to Bowdoin’s own collections but also to those of Bates and Colby.

Other elements of the update include a function allowing users to search by specific fields like  author or subject heading and a tool that allows users to create and collaborate on lists of books and other items. 

Users can also limit their searches to specific formats, like ebooks or videos. 

Some updates are less visible, but will help librarians at the three schools coordinate more easily. 

“A big piece of this is the infrastructure which makes it possible for us to collaborate very closely,” said College Librarian Marjorie Hassen. “In the long term it will streamline the work that’s done behind the scenes, because we can share expertise in a more direct way.”

The planning for the updated catalogue began last spring, while work began in earnest during the summer. Teams from all three libraries worked with Innovative Interfaces Inc., a California-based software company specializing in libraries. 

Montgomery said that adopting the new system in the middle of a school year was a challenge. 

“Because we’re looking at a shared system, we had to find a time that would work for Colby, Bates and Bowdoin, and this was the time that we were able to choose,” she said. 

Some additional changes haven’t been implemented yet, but will be in the coming weeks. Soon, students will be able to search by individual library branches, like Hawthorne-Longfellow or Hatch Science Library. They will also be able to request multiple books from other campuses from the same page. 

Montgomery said there are also tentative plans to release a mobile library app. The app would allow students to search for library materials, book group-study rooms, locate books on shelves, and check library hours. The library hopes to release the app sometime this spring.