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St. Louis and St. Louis County libraries launch merged catalog

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Kara Hayes Smith
/
St. Louis County Library
St. Louis County Executive Sam Page (left), St. Louis County Library Director and CEO Kristen Sorth (middle) and St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones announce the library catalog mergers for the city and county libraries.

St. Louis Public Library and St. Louis County Library members now have access to about 5 million items from the same catalog.

The library districts this month created a shared catalog that includes books, movies and magazines. The service allows library members to reserve items and have them delivered to the branch of their choice, in the city or county.

Members won’t have to sign into separate library accounts to view items in the catalog. They also will not need a new library card.

The venture is the most recent collaboration between the library districts. Others include ending overdue fines, allowing members to check out Wi-Fi hotspots and creating the Career Online High School program.

“We have really over the last several years tried to find every opportunity to partner because we feel like it adds value to our patrons and our customers and to our region,” said Kristen Sorth, director and CEO for the St. Louis County Library District. “This merger of catalogs is the most impactful.”

Sorth said county and city libraries have already shared tens of thousands of books across the districts since the catalog went live last week.

“Within a couple of days, patrons from within the city and county were requesting items from the other library districts,” Sorth said. “The impact was immediate, which is really great news.”

City and county library leaders began discussing the shared catalog several years ago.

Using one system will save the St. Louis Public Library about $100,000 a year. The shared catalog will help the libraries provide materials as quickly as other providers and increase efficiency, said Waller McGuire, CEO of St. Louis Public Library.

“It’s 2022, and people expect things really quickly these days, McGuire said. “We need to provide public library materials on the same kind of scale and speed that big online companies are doing.”

Follow Chad on Twitter: @iamcdavis

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