Saying Good-bye to Minerva, the traditional library catalog

“The times, they are a changin’” sang Bob Dylan and while it’s a bit cliché now, we really do sometimes have to change with them. On May 1, 2014, the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), fondly known as Minerva will no longer be available. This piece of software has served us well for 15 years, but the time has come to retire her. You may have already noticed the change to our new default search of the WorldCat Local (WCL) database on the University Libraries webpage and also on the Ekstrom, Kornhauser, Music, and Art Library webpages. WorldCat Local will be used as our publicly accessible catalog, although we will continue to use the Voyager system behind-the-scenes to process and circulate materials.

Why is the library catalog changing from Minerva to WorldCat Local?

WorldCat Local searches for books, e-books, articles, videos, and other items from UofL Libraries and many other libraries, all in a single search. In addition to library holdings it includes over 70 million citations to articles from JSTOR, ERIC (education), ScienceDirect, ArticleFirst, GPO (U.S. government publications), and more databases. With its intuitive interface researchers can then narrow results by location, format and full-text availability. Minerva, on the other hand, only contains materials owned by UofL and cannot search articles at all which has been a source of confusion to students and other researchers.

Book records in WorldCat Local include an image of the book as well as the standard information that Minerva provided: call number, availability, subject headings, citation and description. WorldCat Local will also indicate libraries nearby that have the item if we don’t have it here at UofL. Articles can be limited to peer-reviewed and/or full-text availability. Overall, the contents and functionality of the WorldCat Local tool far exceed the Minerva catalog.

Why now?

It comes down to time and money. Reductions in budget and staff have made us look for ways to provide the same level of service with less hours of staff time. For the last few years our staff has been doing double duty updating both versions of the catalog. This has meant many staff hours creating and updating records in the two systems and managing changes to the Minerva interface. Officially going with WorldCat Local as our library catalog will eliminate the duplication of effort and help provide our patrons with a single interface for finding the up-to-date information they need.

Why didn’t we do this sooner?

We introduced WorldCat Local on a pilot basis a few years ago. We wanted to make sure that it would meet the needs of our researchers as well as fulfill the University Libraries’ needs for a catalog. While WorldCat Local has improved its functionality consistently, the software that runs Minerva has not grown to meet users’ expectations. Another inhibiting factor has been that we have materials that are available through Minerva, such as University records, manuscripts, and some other archival materials, that have been problematic to access through WorldCat Local.  The benefits of moving to WorldCat Local, however, far outweigh these difficulties. During the changeover our staff will work out methods to keep these materials available and some units in the University Libraries system may choose other access software for their materials.


Obviously, as with any change of this magnitude, there will be bumps along the way. Nothing is perfect, and there are still a number of issues to be resolved. WorldCat Local has interoperability with some library systems and processes. If you have questions about this changeover or what it will mean for your research, please contact the library at UofL that you use the most often.

If you’d like to familiarize yourself more with the WorldCat Local catalog, please visit our help page: for more information.

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