- What is the MeLCat service?
Who is in MeLCat?
What are the benefits of MeLCat for Michigan residents?
- MeLCat is the statewide union catalog and resource sharing service to share materials among all types of libraries in Michigan, regardless of the local circulation system they use.
How does MeLCat help libraries serve their patrons better?
- One stop shopping to find materials owned by all types of libraries statewide
- Ability to identify who owns valuable local history materials not available otherwise
- Request materials online, if their home library is a MeLCat participant
- Pick up materials at their home library
- Check on their requests online
Who can use MeLCat?
- Give your patrons access to millions of titles not available in your library. At one point in time, the Vernon District Public Library had a sign on their library that said, "6 million books available here! Come inside to find out how." Vernon District Library is a Class I public library that is housed in a former service station. They don't really have room for 6 million books, but MeLCat gives them access to that many!
- Provide your patrons with remote access any time and any place
How can my library participate in MeLCat?
How much does it cost to participate in MeLCat?
Can my library participate in MeLCat if we have dial-up access to the Internet?
- MeLCat is for patrons in good standing of participating libraries. Any Michigan resident whose library is part of the system and has no blocks on their patron record may make requests.
Does my library need to have a z39.50 server to participate?
- In a word, no. High speed internet access is required. You also need a static, dedicated IP address before joining MeLCat.
What equipment is necessary to be in MeLCat?
- No, MeLCat does not require a z39.50 server to participate. Libraries may access the MeLCat database via z39.50.
Do I still need my local system if I join MeLCat?
- Library staff use computer workstations to process MeLCat requests. For libraries using Innovative Interfaces as their local system, additional software will be installed on their Innovative server. For libraries using a local system other than Innovative, there is client software that will be installed on staff workstations during the implementation process. Please see our information on library staff workstation technical requirements.
Are my catalog records good enough for MeLCat?
What are the MeLCat borrowing and lending rules?
Will regional shared catalogs be replaced by MeLCat?
- Yes. The statewide catalog is not a replacement for your local system (ILS). You still need your local online catalog for your patron database, circulation, cataloging, acquisitions, and links to your vendors' and institutions' computer systems.
If I join MeLCat, won't all my materials be checked out to other libraries when my patrons want to use them?
- Regional shared catalogs may provide local system functions, such as a patron database, circulation functions, and possibly cataloging and acquisitions. MeLCat is not a replacement for local systems. Regional shared catalogs that do not provide local system functions will determine whether they are still needed after their participating libraries join MeLCat. The decision is up to each shared system.
Does MeLCat check if the item my patron wants is available at my library?
- It's important to remember when you join MeLCat you're giving your patrons access to millions of titles, in addition to what you already offer. And, if something is checked out at your library your patron could get that title from another MeLCat library rather than wait until it comes back. The experience of the current MeLCat libraries is that patrons use the system, regardless of how small or large their own collections are.
What if my patrons lose books from other MeLCat libraries?
- Yes, if your library's local system can export circulation status with its MARC records. If it can't, the answer is no. If your system can export circulation status and MeLCat shows the item as available, the system will tell your patron to get the item from their home library.
Will I be able to review my patrons' requests before they go to another library?
- MeLCat uses standard national Interlibrary Loan policy where the borrowing library is responsible for the item from the time the request is made. If your patron loses another library's item, you are responsible for reimbursing the owning library. You will learn more about this when you become part of MeLCat.
Do we have to lend everything in our library in order to participate?
- MeLCat is a patron-initiated resource sharing system where requests go directly to the owning library. ILL studies show that non-mediated requesting is the most cost effective. It's also the fastest for the patrons.
What about reciprocal borrowing?
- No. While we encourage generous lending, it is up to each individual library which items they are willing to lend, beyond their main circulating collection. On joining MeLCat, libraries agree to abide by the MeLCat Resource Sharing Policies. Be sure to read the policies in full.
What is NCIP ?
- MeLCat has a function for reciprocal borrowing called Visiting Patron. If Library A and Library B both choose to participate in Visiting Patron, then a patron from Library A can go to Library B, take a book off the shelf and present their own library card to the circulation staff at Library B. When Library B checks the book out to the patron, the system treats it as a MeLCat request.
How does it relate to MeLCat?
- The NISO (National Information Standards Organization) Circulation Interchange Protocol. We are using Version 1. NCIP is a national standard that defines a protocol for sending circulation-related messages between integrated library systems. There are 2 separate aspects to MeLCat's NCIP implementation: the transmission of item-related circulation messages (e.g., check out, check in) and patron authentication messages.
My vendor says they have NCIP functionality. What now?
- Libraries with local automation systems other than Innovative Interfaces, Inc. use the DCB (Direct Consortial Borrowing) software to participate in MeLCat. The item-related aspect of NCIP functionality allows DCB libraries to participate in MeLCat without having to perform certain circulation tasks on both their local system and the DCB system. The tasks need only be done on the DCB system, which will then send messages to update the local system. The patron authentication-related aspect eliminates the need for libraries to provide copies of patron records to the DCB server. Note the DCB libraries using NCIP will still be required to provide bibliographic and holdings data for loading to the DCB server.
What should I ask my local system vendor about NCIP?
- NCIP comes in several flavors, or profiles. MeLCat software uses the DCB Profile 3. Innovative Interfaces has published the relevant profile information on the NCIP Implementation Group site . In order to be certain that all the relevant messages are received and appropriately acted upon, interoperability testing must be scheduled between your vendor and Innovative Interfaces. Upon request, MeLCat staff will forward the necessary contact information.
How can a participating MeLCat library give input on policies and best practices?
How is MeLCat funded?
Who do I contact for more information?
- When do you expect to do interoperability testing and implement NCIP?
- When do you intend to implement NCIP Direct Consortial Borrowing (DCB) Profile 3?
- Have you reviewed the relevant profile information on the NCIP Implementation Group site ?
- Is there a charge for the NCIP module or functionality? What if we already have SIP?
- Library staff may contact MeLCat staff at firstname.lastname@example.org, or 800-530-9019 ext 403. Patrons should contact their local library with any MeLCat questions.