The Impact of UC Library Search on Service and Operations

Dear Colleagues,

The launch of UC Library Search on July 27, 2021 will bring fundamental changes to our collective patron services and internal operations.

Below, several members of the SILS Phase 4 Cohort share their thoughts on the impacts of UC Library Search, some of which are being felt now and others which await in less than three months’ time.

Connected for the First Time

The UC’s first-ever systemwide integrated library system (SILS), and its public-facing UC Library Search service, enable newfound collaborations and efficiencies. Beyond a single search interface for more than 40 million volumes across our universities, the move enables an enhanced and user-centered level of integration in core functional areas: Circulation, resource management, and patron data to name a few. Fragmentation and shortcomings of essential library services such as interlibrary loan will be minimized.

“Previously we have worked at two different levels. We had both a campus ILS that we treated as our database of record and cared the most about, and then we had a consortial union catalog that we paid less attention to. Those two discovery layers are going to merge and we are going to be fully invested in a single tool,” said John Riemer (UCLA), Technical Services Escalation Leaders Group Co-Chair.

What this Means for Users

Monthly end-user-centered announcements communicating the enhanced functionality of UC Library Search began circulating at the campus level in February, along with the launch of a patron-facing website. The key value propositions being reinforced throughout this messaging are:

  • A single-unified discovery tool for all UC libraries represents a massive improvement over the retiring Melvyl, allowing users to find materials from any campus quickly and simply, saving time and effort. 
  • The ability to see items borrowed, request extensions and manage one’s account from a single sign-on.
  • The convenience of being able to request and pick up materials from any campus.

“We recognize the importance of communicating the benefits of UC Library Search to a broad spectrum of stakeholders, from longtime faculty who may be heavily reliant on Melvyl for their research, to undergrads who may benefit from seeing the collections of the entire UC system without going to a separate platform,” said Stacy Brinkman (UCI), End User Outreach Subgroup Co-Chair.

”While UC Library Search represents the biggest change for those new to Ex Libris’ Primo VE discovery tool, it’s essential to message patrons of the five campuses already using Primo about how transformative a shared platform will be to their library experience,” Brinkman added.

We’ve Only Just Begun

While changes to collections access and internal workflows will be immediately felt starting in summer 2021, moving to a shared ILS presents opportunities for future integration with a variety of other library services and related products, such as resource sharing and learning management systems. In addition, the powerful, aggregated analytics of a shared system will help UC Libraries make data-informed decisions around collection development and new services for library users.

It’s critical to view UC Library Search as an evolving organism, with the product offering at launch being refined and expanded over time. The future stewardship and advances of UC Library Search will be supported by a shared governance and operations model that will be shared broadly following CoUL approval this summer. 

“There are definitely going to be some things we are not happy with on day one, but the SILS transition is empowering us to bring about positive change over the next couple of years. We need to stay focused on mastering this technology and understanding what it can do for us in the long run as we continue to evolve our systems,” said Joe Ferrie (CDL), Fulfillment and Interlibrary Loan Functional Group Co-Chair. 

Only Possible with People Power

From the initial seedlings of SILS in 2017, to the 18 months of execution during phase 4, no aspects of this transformative shift for the UC Libraries would be possible without the incredible time and energy dedicated to the project by members of the systemwide cohort and local implementation teams. Library leadership recognizes the often delicate staff balancing act between SILS and local library responsibilities, which for many has intensified in recent months.

“Endurance and exhaustion seem to be alternating now as we approach the finish line of this marathon. I have such admiration for all of the colleagues who have been involved, especially the technical services groups who have been running like crazy to get everything ready for testing and now implementation.” said Rikke Ogawa (UCLA), Public Services Escalation Leaders Group Co-Chair.

Please explore the SILS Confluence wiki for ongoing progress. If you have any questions or comments, please contact


Ben Alkaly & Adrian Petrisor

SILS Communication Operation Leads