Libraries completes online catalog update, will retire CAT interface on Dec. 19

Library users’ saved links to individual library materials in the CAT should be updated using new catalog links

The updated interface of the University Libraries catalog, found at, has a modern look and feel, incorporating responsive design for ease of viewing on mobile devices.  Credit: Penn State University LibrariesAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Libraries has integrated updates to its online catalog into the library search experience over the past two years. The improved catalog replaces the 20-year-old previous version — called the CAT, which will be retired at the end of the Fall 2021 semester — with a new interface, enhanced features and a new URL,

“The new catalog is an updated interface for a classic experience and is something we will continue to enhance. Our goal is to connect Penn State students, faculty, staff and visitors more efficiently to the content they are seeking and to the people who can best assist them if they aren’t sure how to find it,” said Ruth Kitchin Tillman, Sally W. Kalin Early Career Librarian for Technological Innovations and cataloging systems and linked data strategist.

As of Sunday, Dec. 19, after the fall semester concludes, links containing "" will redirect to the new catalog homepage. Other University Libraries online services, such as Library Guides and LionSearch, will not be affected. However, at the start of the Spring 2022 semester, all course reserves — both physical items and digital content — will be found in a single location at  

Updating an outmoded interface
The existing CAT was implemented for searching the Libraries’ catalog more than 20 years ago, before the prevalence of mobile devices and modern standards for accessibility. While programmers made some changes to the CAT to meet critical accessibility needs, the proprietary software behind the CAT does not permit them to address issues including recurring cookie errors and stop session timeouts, or make core browser functions work, such as the back button, reload or bookmarking. 

Libraries cataloging and technology strategists began the process of implementing a new online catalog interface in 2018, releasing it in beta format in 2019. Since then, the new catalog has been operating in tandem with the CAT as it was further developed with additional features.  Many users may not notice a change in their library search experience when the CAT is phased out, as the new catalog has already been incorporated into most online library services and search features. 

The first update to the Libraries website occurred in 2019 when search results were revised to display as a “Bento box”-style page, sorting from the library catalog according to resource type. This change was made to improve the visibility of the Libraries’ types of resources most relevant to each search. In addition, the Libraries homepage and search results now include an Experts section to connect users directly with Libraries subject matter experts across all Penn State campuses.

New catalog features
Subsequent changes to the website included streamlining the way library users may request materials and view online materials as well as adding functionality through permalinks for each library item in the catalog. Now, users can bookmark individual titles in browsers and instructors can easily embed links to titles with students through Canvas, the online course management system, and in digital syllabus files. 

In addition, search results can be saved as a permalink, and issues with using a keyboard’s back button have been resolved. Overall, the new catalog has a modern look and feel, incorporating responsive design for ease of viewing on mobile devices. 

Instructional designers have been made aware of the changes to the catalog, including updates needed for catalog hyperlinks. The process of placing items on course reserve will remain the same. Faculty with questions about course reserves are encouraged to reach out to

Penn State library users are encouraged to search the Libraries catalog to find books, government documents, journals, newspapers, maps, archival collections, music, videos, conference proceedings, and more. Users may need to login with their Penn State credentials or be on a Penn State campus network or VPN to access online materials. A catalog search tips page offers instructions, but users are always welcome to ask a librarian for help updating links and conducting catalog searches to improve search results.

Library users may submit requests for materials not found in Penn State University Libraries’ catalog through Interlibrary Loan services.

For more information about the new catalog, contact Ruth Tillman at

Last Updated October 25, 2021