Using the Library’s OPAC (Online Public Access Catalog)

The library launched a new online catalog in March of this year. It offers expanded ways to search for the books you are interested in and also offers the library staff ways to highlight different areas of the collection. Patrons can also view their own account information.  For example, what they currently have checked out or on hold.

To get to the library’s online catalog you can follow this link, or go to the Iowa Department for the Blind website ( and choose the “Library Catalog” under “Quick Links.”  Once you are at the library’s online catalog site, on the left side you will find some links to the library email, information about the library and links to the this blog, BARD and the NLS online catalog.  You will also find links to special title lists.  For example, one list is called “Adult Beach Reads.”  These lists are selections of books on a particular theme or subject the library staff has put together that can help you find new and/or different books to read.

Along the top of the page under the headline, “Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped” are a few different options to get you started with the catalog. Signing in will allow you to view your account information, place holds, see what you have checked out and more.  To sign in you must know your User ID and your password.  If you are not sure of this information, please contact the library and we can help you!  “Start” will take you to the Simple Search screen and let you do a keyword search for a book or subject you are interested in.  You can type in an author name, part of a title or a subject and click search and a list of results will be retrieved based on your search words.  From this screen you can also select the media type (large print, Braille, or digital books) to help guide your search in the right direction.  “Search” will also let you do a Simple Search, but it also offers an Advanced Search.  An Advanced Search gives you more ways to limit your search.  For example you could search for both the title and author of a book.  You can also limit by media type with the Advanced Search.  “Lists” is a place where you can view title lists that you have created for yourself or another place to view the Special Title lists.  “My Account” is where you can see what you currently have checked out, what you have checked out in the past and what you have on your request list or on hold.  You must be signed in to view your account information.

Placing a hold on a book is probably what patrons use the online catalog for the most. Placing a book on hold is the same as requesting a book.  When you put a book on hold through the online catalog, that book will go on your request list and will be downloaded to the next cartridge you send back, or if it is a Braille or large print book, it will be sent out to you when it is available.  To place a hold on a book, search for the book you are interested in.  Once you have found what you are looking for, there will be an icon that is labeled “Hold.”  The icon looks like a piece of paper with a green arrow circling around it.  Click that icon to place the hold.  If you are not signed in, it will prompt you to sign in.  Once you are signed in, just click the “hold” button one more time.  The book is now on hold for you!  The library wants you to take an active role in choosing the books you want to read. By placing a hold through our online catalog or giving us call with some titles you want, will ensure you are reading what YOU want to!

Please don’t hesitate to call the library with any questions!

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