Monday, September 21, 2015

New Virtual Shelf Browse Feature in Catalyst

Some patrons, especially in certain areas of study, enjoy physically visiting the library stacks to browse the collection. The JH Libraries largely use the Library of Congress Classification system - aka the "call numbers" - to order the books on our shelves. It's intended to place books on the same or similar topics near one another to facilitate this kind of browsing.

Because so many users enjoy browsing the physical shelves, we've introduced a new Virtual Shelf Browse feature in Catalyst to supplement, but hopefully never replace, an in-person visit to the shelves.

Access the Virtual Shelf Browse by finding a book or other item in Catalyst and clicking on the item's title to get to the detail page for that book. If the book does appear in the Virtual Shelf Browse, it will have a button in the right-hand sidebar to view that book in the virtual stacks along  with other books placed nearby.
 
There are some things Virtual Shelf Browse can do that aren't possible in-person:

 • You can access it from home or anywhere you have an Internet-connected device. It works pretty well on a tablet and even on your phone.

• It includes books from various JH Libraries shelving locations in one single virtual stack, such as MSEL, Welch, and our off-site storage (Libraries Service Center).

• Books that are currently checked out by another patron still appear in the Virtual Shelf Browse. Even some (but not all) ebooks from our extensive ebook collection appear.
 
Note that not every book at Hopkins has a Library of Congress Classification number. While Virtual Shelf Browse includes more of our collection than any single physical location, you can't assume that you're seeing everything -- just as when you're looking at physical shelves too.

We hope the Virtual Shelf Browse provides another way to find material from the Hopkins Libraries collections. Please let us know what you think!


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This post was originally composed by Jonathan Rochkind, a JH Libraries developer, for the Sheridan Libraries Blog. The user interface that we used for Virtual Shelf Browse was originally developed by the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, and shared with other interested parties, including Jonathan, under an open source license. Many thanks to Harvard for sharing their software!



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