Frequently Asked Questions about the New Library Catalog

The Florida Center for Library Automation (FCLA) is implementing a new library catalog search engine for the 11 State University Libraries (SUL) of Florida using commercial software from Endeca Technologies, Inc.

Why a new catalog?

  • EFFECTIVENESS: The intent is to provide library users with a more effective searching experience by providing more guidance -- especially in narrowing initial searches that are too broad.  The new catalog exposes terms in library catalog records in ways that are much more prominent than in traditional library catalogs; these terms can be easily clicked to "drill down" to view records having the most interest to a user.
  • RANKING CAPABILITIES: A key enhancement is better ranking of search results. Traditional library catalog systems are not known for their ability to rank results. Users expect good results; they don't care about how many, but they do expect good results on the first page. For the vast majority of requests, the new catalog improves results significantly. And this should improve further over time.
  • UP-FRONT DUE DATES: Another major improvement is that due date information for most items appears right on the Results List; for most items it will no longer be necessary to go to a different screen to see this important information.
  • SUL UNION CATALOG: The way library catalog data is captured and stored to create the SUL individual library catalogs also enables the creation of a Union Catalog for the SUL (which has not existed for its 11 catalogs since 2004). One "master" record serves as the basis for all local catalogs and the Union Catalog view.
What other advantages are there?
  • A spell-check feature is now available (something not generally available in traditional library catalogs).
  • Users can browse search results by subject using various call number classification systems (Library of Congress, National Library of Medicine, Superintendent of Documents, and Dewey Decimal.) 
  • Over time the catalog is expected to allow integrating other FCLA Digital Library and article data from separate databases into library catalog search results to create a more powerful and comprehensive mechanism for retrieving library research data.
  • It is expected that this system will provide a platform allowing more flexibility for future user interface development than the previous library catalog.
What is the current status of the new catalog?
  • The individual institution and Union catalogs are all available for use; see links below. Each of the State University Libraries will decide independently when the new catalog is ready to be featured as its primary library catalog.  Many have decided to switch in time for the start of Fall Semester, 2007.
  • All but the most recently added catalog records are included. At this time, updates to add new records are being run twice weekly. Eventually it is expected that updates will occur nightly.
  • Due date and other item-level information seen on the Results List and the Full record is up to date. That data is retrieved in real-time by linking to the underlying library system data files.
  • The previous catalogs will continue to be available, but will not be enhanced. At least for now, some functions are performed better using that platform. For example, the ability to BROWSE HEADINGS (call number, subject, author, and title) is currently superior in the previous catalog. In fact, there is an option on the new catalog's Advanced Search screen to connect to the previous catalog to perform these BROWSE HEADINGS searches. Another advantage of the previous catalog is that brand new items added to the library collection are only available there initially.
  • The new catalog is created by merging catalog record information from the 11 Library catalog databases into a "master" record for each book, etc. in the library collections. Both the union and local catalog will retrieve and display information from this same record. This merging process is very complex and is being reviewed to ensure that the catalogs will all be as useful and accurate as possible.
  • The new catalog will continue to evolve. While considerable progress has already been made toward adapting this new Web searching platform to serve as an effective library discovery and retrieval mechanism, we expect to take advantage of additional opportunites to enhance search retrieval and build other useful functionality in the future.
How can I connect to the new catalogs?
State University Libraries of Florida (SUL)
New Catalog Links
FAMU Florida A&M University
FAU Florida Atlantic University
FGCU Florida Gulf Coast University
FIU Florida InternationalUniversity
FSU Florida State University
UCF University of Central Florida
NCF New College of Florida
UF University of Florida
UNF University of North Florida
USF University of South Florida
UWF University of West Florida

Union Catalog - All SUL Combined

What else will I want to know about searching the new catalogs?

  • There is a brief interactive tutorial for the Union CatalogIt will lead you through the basics of navigation using this new catalog. The local catalogs work in almost the same way (although with fewer records since only the local collection is featured).
  • It is possible to enter terms in the search box surrounded by "quotation marks" to search for exact phrases and thereby limit results retrieved.
  • Without typing any search terms, you may just click the SEARCH button to begin browsing the entire collection of records. Just click any terms on the resulting screen to begin "drilling down" to records of interest.
  • The Browser BACK button can be used. You may also "go back up" and remove selected facets by clicking the that you see.
  • There is an Advanced Search screen that allows entering a refined search by targetting words in specific fields, or by selecting location, language, and format limits. Other options for entering more complex Boolean searches -- and for connectiung to the previous catalog to do traditional browse headings searches are also available.  

About Endeca

  • Endeca is software that is purchased by many businesses and other large organizations (e.g. Home Depot and WalMart) to organize and present data available on their Web sites. As indicated on the Endeca Technologies Inc. home page at, “Endeca's unique information access platform helps people find, analyze and understand information in ways never before possible.”  This software was first used for offering a library catalog at North Carolina State University in January 2006.

In consultation with FCLA staff, last updated August 16, 2007
SUL Public Services Planning Committee (PSPC) OPAC Subcommittee
Endeca Project FAQ