My MCL is our new and improved website that allows you to find what you want faster and interact with other library users.

After seven years, the Multnomah County Library has gotten a digital makeover.  Years in the making, this new version of the library website has many new functions, and a multi-tasking search bar that can find a book about careers and an interviewing skills workshop at the same time.

Find What You Want Faster

A team from Multnomah County Library has been working with the Multnomah County IT Department to create a new and improved search function.  It is very comprehensive: entering a few words into the search bar on the library home page yields results from both the library’s collection of materials and from other resources like online databases, events, blogs and lists. 

The search is also smarter.  Rather than simply looking for the words in your search, the Smart Search will cross reference with popular materials and common search terms to give you the most relevant answer.  For instance, in the old catalog, doing a keyword search for “the help” would yield a bunch of materials with “help” in the title, like Help the helper: building a culture of extreme teamwork, or Help Me Learn Addition, or the album Help! by the Beatles.  Doing the same search in the new catalog yields much different results, and at the top of the list is the popular book The Help by Kathryn Stockett, and the 2011 movie based on that book.

Find Similar Items

Once you’ve found the item you want, the new website offers you new ways to discover similar items.  You can Browse the Shelves digitally, so that you can see what books might be on the shelf at your library in the same category.  You can also check out Lists that have been made by library staff or other patrons.  Since it’s in the fiction section, our book, The Help, is on the shelf at the Albina Library in between Games Traitors Play by Jon Stock and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but it appears under the subject heading “Civil Rights Movement – Fiction,” and on the lists “Pageturners: Northwest Library” (since they’re reading it in March), and Teen Center’s “Books of Characters We Want to Meet.”

My MCL Allows You to Connect With Other Library Users

That last list, “Books of Characters We Want to Meet,” is from the Seattle Public Library, which also subscribes to Bibliocommons, the company that offers the more “social” side of our new website.  Bibliocommons, called My MCL for us, connects libraries and library users from all over the country, allowing users to store information on different shelves (Completed, In Progress, and For Later), rate and review materials, make lists, and share your shelves and lists via other social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. 

You can keep your shelves and reviews private, or choose to make them public so that you can interact with other library users.  Bibliocommons allows you to follow other people’s reviews or send them a message.  But never fear!  You have control over your information, and you can always choose to “ignore” other users.  And if all of this is just too much change and you want to keep using the catalog that you’ve known and loved for the last seven years, you can still find a link to the Classic Catalog in the top right corner of any page, or under the Explore menu.

Discover New Possibilities

My MCL is a place where you can discover all that the library has to offer.  Explore the library collection by looking at the Recent Activity (materials that have been recently reviewed or rated by My MCL users), look at New Titles the library has purchased, find the titles of the latest Lucky Day books, and see which new movies are coming to the collection soon.  Library staff are also noting award winners and creating lists to help patrons find new books to read.  Pre-made lists include “Oregon Book Award Winners,” “Oprah Book Club Selections,” “I Never Meta Book I Didn't Like,” “Happy Birthday, Julia Child!” and many, many others. 

Another service, which I feel is too little known, is to request a personalized book recommendation list from a librarian.  Fill out a simple form, listing a few authors or books that you’ve liked in the past and why, and a personally tailored reading list will appear in your email inbox within a few days.  I filled out the form for my mother when she was feeling adrift after finishing A Dance With Dragons by George R.R. Martin (the fifth of a projected seven books in the A Song of Ice and Fire series that started with A Game of Thrones).  The responses that I got from the librarian were spot-on, and when I replied back that I’d forgotten to include one of my mother’s favorite authors, I got another list of great books to put on hold for her.

If you ever have a free afternoon, spend some time looking around the new and improved library website.  Or if you would like help, head into any library and a staff person can show you around the site and answer your questions.  You won’t regret learning more about this wonderful new tool, and, if you’re like me, you’ll fall a little bit more in love with our outstanding library system.


The library is always looking for ways to improve its online experience, so please give the library your feedback and suggestions for improvement by taking this survey, emailing a librarian, or by filling out the form at the bottom of your My MCL page when you are logged in.