Trials, Betas, and Tools

Beta test the new Library Catalog

The Library strongly encourages members of the University of Chicago community to participate in a beta test of the new Library Catalog at The end of vendor support for the current Library Catalog and Lens, both slated for this summer, requires the implementation of a new catalog.

New Catalog Beta homepage

The new Library Catalog homepage

The design goals for the new Library Catalog were drawn from an extensive series of interviews with UChicago faculty and students, conducted to ensure that the new tool will meet the needs of researchers. The new Catalog design retains all of the functionality that patrons identified as valuable in the existing systems and adds new features requested during interviews.

Notable features in the beta release

The new UChicago Library Catalog features a simple, clean visual design and a variety of search options:

  • searches can be limited by format, language, and other criteria;
  • “Begins With” browsing allows quick retrieval of known titles or authors;
  • materials can be viewed in call number order;
  • “power searching” options such as Boolean operators and nested search terms allow for precise recall of catalog records.

New features in this Catalog requested by users include display of the current availability of items on the search results page, as well as easier access to ebooks and ejournals.

Still in development

This beta version of the Catalog is not complete.  Features still under development include

  • My Account features, such as emailing, saving, and exporting records;
  • optimization of the Catalog for use on mobile devices;
  • inclusion of expanded Library content, such as the Library website, archival finding aids, and digital collections.

This functionality will be added over the coming months. The beta period will also give the Library the opportunity to identify and fix data and display problems before the Catalog goes into full production later this year.

Exporting user data

Unfortunately, lists created by users of the current Catalog and MyDiscoveries records saved by users of Lens cannot be migrated to the new Library Catalog.  The Library will soon post instructions on how users can export these records, and users will have at least until the end of June to do so.

Share your comments

To begin beta testing the new Catalog, simply go to and begin a search, or click the Help button on any Catalog page for more information.  Please share your comments with us on the feedback form, also available from the Catalog header. We are particularly interested in your feedback regarding visual design and layout, organization of results and records, ease and effectiveness of search construction, and the quality and ranking of results.

The new University of Chicago Library Catalog is a customized version of the VuFind software platform, an open-source search tool originally developed at Villanova University. Research libraries and collections currently using VuFind include the University of Michigan Library, the HathiTrust, and the National Libraries of Australia, Finland, and Ireland.

Get books from the Ivies: try Borrow Direct beta

University of Chicago faculty, students, and staff can now borrow books and other circulating materials from the libraries of Ivy League universities and MIT through Borrow Direct, which begins its beta implementation phase at UChicago on August 1. Borrow Direct will typically deliver books to UChicago users in approximately four calendar days—far more rapidly than items requested through traditional interlibrary loan.

Borrow Direct logo 200Borrow Direct can be used to gain rapid access to books that are checked out or otherwise unavailable from the University of Chicago Library. The service provides access to more than 50 million volumes from the circulating collections of Brown, Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, Penn, Princeton, and Yale. It works very much like UBorrow, the year-old consortial borrowing program that rapidly delivers materials from other CIC (Big Ten) libraries.

Borrow Direct materials can be kept for up to 12 weeks, unless recalled by the lending library. Standard borrowing policies—including fines and account blocks—apply to overdue Borrow Direct items, and renewals are not permitted.

Borrow Direct materials will typically arrive in approximately four calendar days, but a few extra days may be needed during the beta phase as we test methods for exchanging books with our Ivy League partners.

Help us test Borrow Direct

Open bookUsing Borrow Direct during the beta phase is simple:

  1. Log in to the Borrow Direct catalog with your CNet ID and password.
  2. Search for the item you want and click on the “Request” link within its record.
  3. Select your pick-up location and click on “Submit” to complete your request.

You will receive an email once the item arrives notifying you that it is available for pickup.

For more detailed information visit our Borrow Direct library guide.

Book a Room pilot for group studies begins Jan. 7

Group study sign for new room booking system.

If you see this sign on the door of a room, you can book it on behalf of your group using the new Book a Room system.

Student groups looking for a place to work together on problem sets or to cram for that daunting midterm exam should find the task a bit easier this quarter, thanks to the Library’s new Book a Room system. The online system, currently in a pilot phase, allows UChicago students, faculty, and staff to view available group studies and to book a room in advance, on behalf of two or more users.

By introducing a room booking system, the Library hopes to make it easier for groups to find spaces to study and work together collaboratively, in keeping with its commitment to creating and sustaining an environment supportive of scholarship. While the Library has long offered spaces designated for collaborative work, students have reported difficulty in knowing when and where they can find an available room. The new system will make doing so a much simpler task and will, for the first time, allow groups to book a room in advance.

How it Works

Book a Room allows groups to reserve a room up to 7 days in advance for up to 2 hours per day. Groups may choose from among 16 group studies in Regenstein and 7 group studies in Crerar. In addition, Regenstein’s 5 library classrooms, which are intended primarily for formal instruction, may be booked by groups outside of regular teaching hours (after 10 p.m. Monday through Friday and all day Saturday and Sunday).

Example of the Book a Room grid displaying available rooms

The Book a Room display. Available timeslots are green; booked timeslots are blue. Group names are listed under “Confirmed Bookings” on the left.

Only current UChicago students, faculty, and staff may book rooms, though other groups are welcome to use rooms on a first come, first served basis as long as the room has not been booked. Groups who have booked a room need to bring a confirmation email as proof of their booking in order to ask another group to vacate a room.

The Book a Room system is available online via any Internet browser and via mobile devices. In addition to booking rooms, users can view information about each room, including seating capacity, amenities, and location, as well as photos of the rooms and maps of their locations. Group names are also displayed, allowing users to find a room their group has already booked.

For more information, see How to Book a Room and the Library’s Policies on Room Use .

A group study in Crerar Library

One of the many group studies bookable by groups using the new Book a Room system.

Pilot Phase

The Library is currently offering Book a Room as a pilot during Winter and Spring Quarters 2013. Library staff will review use of the system and solicit feedback from users to evaluate the service going forward.

To see what rooms are available, visit Book a Room at

Paley Center for Media iCollection trial

The Library is considering purchasing the following resource:

Paley Center for Media iCollection

University of Chicago faculty, students, and staff may make use of this resouce during the trial period February 1 – February 28, 2012, and are invited to provide feedback on whether it is a useful resource for their research, teaching and learning.

Users will need to enter the following to log on:

Password: uchicago1

The Paley Center for Media iCollection provides access to over 15,000 hours of television and radio programming for research and educational purposes.

Database trial: MEMO 1: Pioneer Orientalists

University users have trial access to the Brill database:  MEMO 1 Pioneer Orientalists until March 16th at the following URL:

Leiden University Library has a world-famous research collection of Middle Eastern Manuscripts. Its core collection consists of volumes brought together by, among others, the Leiden Orientalists Joseph Justus Scaliger (d. 1609) and Jacobus Golius (d. 1667). Included in the Scaliger collection are about a dozen manuscripts which belonged to Franciscus Raphelengius (d. 1597). These collections consist of extremely rare, sometimes unique, manuscripts.

Brill and Leiden University Library have joined forces to digitize the Arabic manuscripts from three of the library’s core collections, now published online under the title Pioneer Orientalists: The Manuscript Collections of Scaliger, Raphelengius and Golius from the Leiden University Library. The publication consists of 267 Arabic manuscripts in 303 volumes, amounting to 109.517 pages, in full-color, images.

Key Features:

  • These are the oldest core collections of one of Europe’s top repositories of Oriental manuscripts;
  • Originally collected by Franciscus Raphelengius (d. 1597), Joseph Justus Scaliger (d. 1609), and Jacobus Golius (d. 1667);
  • 30 manuscripts were restored as part of this project;
  • Filmed on site at the Leiden University Library;
  • Almost 110.000 high-resolution scans in full colour of unique and rare Arabic manuscripts;
  • The collection includes two manuscript scrolls, each c. 5 meters long;
  • Downloadable files;
  • Metadata in English per individual text (also for miscellanies); and
  • References to Brockelmann’s GAL.

Database trial: Anthropology Online

Anthropology Online,  a new database from Alexander Street Press, is available to University users on a trial basis until March 10. 

Alexander Street Anthropology is a comprehensive resource for the study of human culture and behavior. Featuring cross-searchable access to the acclaimed Ethnographic Video Online and Anthropology Online collections, Alexander Street Anthropology provides anthropologists, sociologists and cultural historians with an expansive and multifaceted survey of the discipline. Researchers can explore a wide range of materials—from documentaries and field notes to written ethnographies and reference works.

Thematic areas include: family and race, material culture, language and culture, kinesthetics, body language, food and foraging, cooking, economic systems, social stratification and status, caste systems and slavery, male and female roles, kinship and families, political organization, conflict and conflict resolution, religion and magic, music and the arts, culture and personality, marriage, gender, and family roles.

Text yourself titles and call numbers from Lens

Texting from Lens
You can now send title and call number information directly to your mobile phone from Lens and take it with you into the stacks. Here’s how:

  1. Use Lens to search for titles in the collection.
  2. Click on a title to display the full record.
  3. On the right side of the screen, click on “Send as text message”.
  4. If there are multiple copies at different locations, select the one you want to send.
  5. Enter the phone number (no spaces or punctuation) and select the phone’s service provider to send a SMS (Short Message Service) text message containing the call number, title, and location.

This new feature of Lens was developed by Library staff based on feedback from our users.

Trial access to PrivCo

Trial access is available to PrivCo, a source of private company information. PrivCo has private company financials and revenues, information on private M&A deals and deal multiples, private firm valuations, venture capital fundings, private equity deals, private and family ownership breakdowns, bankruptcies, restructurings, and more. The trial runs until November 30.

Access PrivCo.

Please send comments to Jeffry Archer.

Have you tried Articles Plus?

Articles Plus provides one-stop searching of hundreds of article databases (including JSTOR), plus the Library Catalog. The Library is evaluating this product for purchase, and we will be conducting the trial through the end of the quarter.

Discover how Articles Plus can help you with your research. Visit our information table on the 1st floor of Regenstein Library from Noon-3:00 pm on October 26th, 27th, and 28th to learn more. 

You can also visit our Articles Plus information page. We welcome your feedback.


Trial of Rand State Statistics

Trial access is available to Rand State Statistics until September 1.

Rand State Statistics is a collection of over 70 detailed state and local databases built by RAND.  Databases range from Economics (employment, wages, foreign trade, airline operations, etc.) to Population/Demographics (populations, projections, immigration, mortality, etc.) to Education (enrollment, finances, teacher salaries, etc.) and more (Health and Socioeconomic, Government Finance, Energy and Environment, and Community).