Minerva, the Traditional Library Catalog to be Sunsetted

On May 1, 2014, the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC), fondly known as Minerva will no longer be available via links on most University Library web pages. 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. The Archives and Special Collections will continue to use the Minerva interface due to the specialized materials that they have.

When you say “no longer be available via links”, what exactly do you mean?

We won’t link to minerva.louisville.edu from our webpages, but if you type in that URL, it will continue to work for the foreseeable future. It will not be customized, and more importantly, the records will not be corrected or maintained and thus will not be as accurate as the ones in WorldCat Local. Some pieces of the system will, however, continue to be used such as “My Account” where you can log in to renew your materials and the piece used to request an item from the Robotic Retrieval and Storage (RRS) system.

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 what UofL owns 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 fewer hours of staff time. For the last several 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 is no longer being upgraded or developed. 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.


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: http://louisville.libguides.com/help for more information.

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