Frequently Asked Questions


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Frequently Asked Questions for the MVLC Online Catalog

Remember, you can always contact your local library for assistance. We're here to help! Contact information can be found here.


What is Evergreen?

Evergreen is open-source, consortial-quality library software to help library users find library materials and to help libraries manage, catalog, and circulate those materials.

“Open-source” means that the software is free in all senses of the word: free to download, free to use, free to view, free to modify, free to share. The growth of Evergreen relies on the libraries that use it to work with the “Evergreen Community” to improve and enhance its functions and features.

MVLC has joined with two other Massachusetts library consortia, C/W MARS and NOBLE, in the Massachusetts Library Network Cooperative (MassLNC) to pool our resources to develop and refine Evergreen for our needs as well as the wider Evergreen Community. This project is funded with a Library Services and Technology Act grant from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and by participating libraries.

Evergreen was started in 2005, by the PINES network in Georgia. When they needed to upgrade their system they could not find an existing library software vendor who could come close to satisfying their technical needs. The Pines network decided that instead of settling for a system which was inadequate, their developers would write the kind of system that would do what they needed.

Today, there are hundreds of libraries using Evergreen with more added every month. See this list of all known Evergreen implementations.

Do I have the correct browser?

Our new catalog should work with recent versions of all major browsers, including

  • Firefox
  • Chrome
  • Opera
  • Safari
  • Internet Explorer

For Internet Explorer users (we recommend IE8 or higher):

  • IE8, IE9 and IE10 are all compatible.
  • IE7 Not all catalog functions will work correctly (IE7 users can upgrade to IE8 if running at least Windows XP with Service Pack (SP) 2 or higher)
  • IE6 is not compatible with the catalog.

How do I find things in this catalog?

There are four areas where you may begin your search: Basic, Advanced, Numeric, and Expert. Probably the most common search is the Basic Search.

Basic Search

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The homepage contains a single search box, similar to Google, to search for items. In addition to your search term(s) there are three additional chances to focus your search: Format, Type of Search, and Library.


You can limit your search results to a specific format. The most common format options are as follows:

  • All formats
  • Audiobooks (books read out loud on CD or tape)
  • Books
  • Equipment/Toys
  • Music (music on CD)
  • Software/Games
  • Videos (including Blueray, DVD, and VHS)

Type of Search

Just like Google the Keyword or “everything” search will be the default, but there are other options, too:

  • Keyword (default) – find terms anywhere in the item record
  • Title – words in the title
  • Journal Title – words in a journal title
  • Author – the author’s name
  • Subject – finds terms in the subject field of the record
  • Bib Call Number – the call number of the item from the record


By default, if you’re not logged in, the catalog displays the holdings of the library you’ve selected before doing a search. If you’re logged in, the catalog displays the holdings of your “Home Library” or the library you have selected as your Preferred Library. You can change your Preferred Library from your My Account - Account Preferences. The benefit of selecting a library before a search is that the materials which are available at that library will show up for you to see before the other libraries in the consortium.

Advanced Search

The advanced search gives you many more ways to customize your search than the Basic Search.

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Advanced search lets you search with more than one search term and refine your search by limiting results by different criteria. To add more search terms than just the three options supplied, click on ‘Add Search Row’ as needed under Search Input.

Search Filters

Search filters are a means to further refine your search results. You can filter or limit on:

  • Item Type – type of items (books, audiobooks, videos, etc)
  • Item Form – format of items (books, large print, microfiche, etc)
  • Language
  • Audience – adult, kids, Teen, etc.
  • Video Format – Blu-ray, DVD, VHS, etc.
  • Bib Level – Monograph (usually books), Serial (often magazines)
  • Literary Form – fiction, nonfiction, etc.
  • Search Library
  • Publication Year – you can set the publication date as equal to, before, after or between a designated year or years.

Sort Criteria

By default, search results will be in order of relevance (most to least). You can change the sort results to Title, Author, or Publication Date. Publication Date – Newest to Oldest will show you newest items first.

Limit to Available

Check this box if you just want to see items that are currently on the shelf. Titles without available copies will NOT show in the search results.

Use the Clear form to start a new search link at the bottom to start a search from the very beginning.

Numeric Search

The Numeric Search is a very specialized set of search parameters for searching particular number fields in an item record. The most common number to search would be an ISBN number found on retail books.

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Expert Search

The Expert Search is for users with a thorough knowledge of MARC cataloging. It allows a person to search for specialized information found in the specific fields of the MARC record.

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Search Tips

You do not need to enter authors last name first, nor do you need an exact title or subject heading. Evergreen is also forgiving about plurals and alternate verb endings, so if you enter dogs, Evergreen will also find items with dog.

  • Do not use an AND operator to join search terms.
    • An AND operator is automatically used to join all search terms. So, a search for golden compass will search for entries that contain both golden and compass.
    • Boolean operators such as and, or, not are not considered special and are searched for like any other word. So, a search for golden and compass will not return the title golden compass. Putting it another way, there are no stop words that are automatically ignored by the search engine. So, a title search for the and or not of (and in any order) yields a list of titles with those words.
  • Don’t worry about white space, exact punctuation, or capitalization.
    • White spaces before or after a word are ignored. So, search for golden compass gives the same results as a search for golden compass.
    • A double dash or a colon between words is reduced to a blank space. So, a title search for golden:compass or golden — compass is equivalent to golden compass.
    • Punctuation marks occurring within a word are removed; the exception is _. So, a title search for gol_den com_pass gives no result.
    • Diacritical marks, &, or | located anywhere in the search term are removed. Words or letters linked together by . (dot) are joined together without the dot. So, a search for go|l|den & comp.ass is equivalent to golden compass.
    • Upper and lower case letters are equivalent. So, Golden Compass is the same as golden compass.
  • Enter your search words in any order. So, a search for compass golden gives the same results as a search for golden compass. Adding more search words gives fewer and more specific results.
    • This is also true for author searches. Both David Suzuki and Suzuki, David will return results for the same author.
  • Use specific search terms. Evergreen will search for the words you specify, not the meanings, so choose search terms that are likely to appear in an item description. For example, the search luxury hotels will produce more relevant results than nice places to stay.
  • Search for an exact phrase using double-quotes. For example “golden compass”.
    • The order of words is important for an exact phrase search. “golden compass” is different than “compass golden”.
    • White space, punctuation and capitalization are removed from exact phrases as described above. So a phrase retains its search terms and its relative order, but not special characters and not case.
    • Two phrases are joined by and, so a search for “golden compass” “dark materials” is equivalent to “golden compass” and “dark materials”.
    • To prevent stemming, use double quotes around a single word or a phrase. So, a search for parenting will also return results for parental but a search for “parenting” will not.
  • Exclude a term from the search, using – (minus) or ! (exclamation point). For example, vacations –britain or vacations !britain will search for materials on vacations that do not make reference to Britain.
    • Two excluded words are joined by and. So, a search for !harry !potter is equivalent to !harry and !potter.
    • A + (plus) leading a term has no role and is removed. So, +golden +compass is equivalent to golden compass.

You can form more complex searches using the Advanced Search features.

What can I find out about an item online?

Search Results

After submitting your search, the results that are displayed are divided into pages if your search produced many results. You can jump between pages by clicking the numbers or “Next” which are located to the right of the number of results.

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When searching a specific library’s catalog you will see a display similar to one located below.

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Under the title, brief information listing the author, publication date and format can be found, in addition to library holdings and availability. Often, there may be a cover image and summary information if it is avalaible. You can request an item right from the result display or click on the title to go into a more detailed explanation of the item including more locations and availability. You can also click on the author to conduct another search on that author without needing to type the author’s name in the search box.

You can click to limit to available items by checking the “Limit to Available” checkbox located at the top portion of the screen. Once that checkbox is checked the search results page will refresh and only show items that are currently available at the library.

You can also sort the results by clicking on the Sort Results by Relevance drop down box

Related Subjects, Authors, and Series

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To the left of the search results, relevant subjects, authors and series are listed. By clicking on any of these links, you will be able to refine your current search.

Viewing a specific Item

Click on a title to view detailed information including availability, barcode, physical location in the library, descriptive information (author, publisher, copyright, physical description, abstract, Author Notes, subjects, etc)

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The above image shows the holdings if you have your search “scoped” to a particular library. Clicking “Show” Next to the “XX copies at Merrimac Valley Library Consortium” will give your results like the following:

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If you would like to find additional materials materials which may be similar to the one you’re viewing, click on one of the subjects under “Search for related items by subject” to begin a new search.

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Special Information

The dark bars lower in the detail record page may have additional, useful information. For example, Additional Content can have Book Reviews about the item.

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Shelf Browser

Shelf Browser will show you what materials would be around the item you are viewing as if it were on a library shelf. Often, items shelved together can be similar to one another.

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How can I get an item from the catalog?

Placing a Hold

Because the availability of some materials depends on which library is designated as your home library, it is always helpful, but not necessary, to login to your account before placing holds. Additional help with logging in will be found in the My Account section of this document. If you have not already logged in to your account, please do so.

Many items in the catalog can be requested and delivered to your preferred pickup library. You will find the Place Hold button both with the item in the results list (far right) as well as in the top right corner of the record detail.

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The Place Hold screen will state the title of the item that you are requesting and your default pickup location. You can pickup your materials at any MVLC library. For example, if your work town would be a more efficient place to pick up your holds, you can name that town as your pickup location. Setting a different town as your default pickup location will be discussed in the My Account section.

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Select whether you would like to be notified by email or phone. Although both may be selected it is best to pick one or the other. The telephone number from your account will appear in the box or you can add a different number for this hold. If replaced, the telephone number must follow the format of xxx-xxx-xxxx.

Changing the phone number in this area does NOT update the phone number recorded in your account. Please contact your library to update key contact information in your account.

By submitting this hold request the system will check on the availability of the item selected and return a message about the success of the request.


Occasionally, especially when requesting DVD or Blu-Ray videos, the item will “parts”. This means that there are multiple pieces, or in this case discs, available. However, a library may divide up how these discs circulate. For example, the discs for The Game of Thrones Season 1 (discs 1-5) are circulated as individual discs in some libraries, as entire set in other libraries, and in groups of 1-2,3-4, and 5 in others. To accommodate this diversity in the catalog, you may need to designate which “parts” you would like to request. Not selecting a “part” may delay or eliminate your request.

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How can I create lists of materials?

My Lists are collections of titles that you have selected and can save on the catalog. You are able to create multiple lists such as a pending reading list of romances or a collection of the most useful books on knitting. From the list you are able to place holds, add notes to a title, and share your list with friends.

Adding Titles to My List

Before you create a list and start adding to it, it is best to login to your account. (You “technically” can add to a temporary list before logging in; however, to keep those items you would have to transfer them to a permanent list.)

Add to my list

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1. You can add a title to one of your lists when you have a results list or are in the detail record of a title. Look for the “Add to my list” button and click it. If you are logged in you will be able to add this title to one of your lists, to a temporary list, or create a new list for it.

Creating a new list

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2. Creating a new list only requires that you name it. You may also add a description of what this list is for. The sharing option is discussed in Managing My Lists.

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3. By entering My Account and clicking the My Lists tab, you will be able to see all of your lists. There are many options which will be discussed in Managing My Lists.

Viewing the titles in a list and placing a hold on a list title

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4. Click the name of one of your saved lists, and you will see all of the titles that you have added to the list. To place a hold on one (or more) of the titles in the list or to delete a title from your list, check the box before the title, find Place Hold or Remove from List in the Actions for these items drop-down menu, and click GO.

Managing Titles in My List

Once you have added titles to a list there are many things that you can do with that information.

Sharing a list

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Sharing a list will allow you to give others a URL which will open up in the Evergreen Catalog or in an RSS Reader with all of the titles from your list. These link to fully functional Evergreen Catalog entries.

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By default each list will show the Share button. This means that the list is currently hidden from others; you need to click the Share button to give others access to it. Once a list is shared you will see the Hide button and at the end of the list line a small icon (RSS Feed) and the words HTML View.

URL for web (HTML) link

To create a url for a web page right mouse click on HTML View and select copy link location. A url like the following will be available for you to “paste” into the document of your choice.;page=0;locg=40;depth=0

URL for RSS Feed
To Create an RSS Feed right mouse click on the small icon
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and select copy link location. An address like the following will be available for you to “paste” into an RSS Reader.

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Delete List. Be careful! Clicking delete removes your list completely without any warning prompts.

Download CSV. This will save your list in comma separated format for use in other applications.

Make Default List and Remove Default List. Making a list the default list will cause it to be listed first after Temporary List when you click Add to My List.

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Edit notes allows you to add annotations to your titles. A box will appear in the Notes column. Enter your note(s) and then select Save Notes.

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Notes will appear at the bottom of the entry in the shared display.

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How can I view my account information and customize the catalog?

My Account

By logging in to My Account you will be able to view your library account, set preferences, renew items, and place holds. If this is your first time logging in enter your library barcode number followed by the password/PIN consisting of the last four digits of your phone number. For your security you will be prompted to update this four digit PIN to a seven digit password of your choosing. You may also create an easy to remember username to use in place of your 14 digit barcode. If you forget your username, your barcode will always allow you to login.

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The “forgot your password” link will send an email to the address associated with your account. Reset instructions will be included.

Once logged in a quick view of your account will appear in the upper right section of the catalog. In My Account there will be five main tabs: Account Summary, Items Checked Out, Holds, Account Preferences, and My Lists.

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Account Summary

This section gives you links to items as well as all fines or payments.

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Items Checked Out

Viewing the items checked out on your account, allows you to see their due dates and renew those items if applicable.

The checkout history tab will, if activated by you, show what you have checked out from the time of activation forward. We will address activation and privacy ramifications in the Account Preferences section.

To renew items, click on the box next to the item that you would like to renew and choose Renew Selected Items from the dropdown. This display will also show how many renewals you have remaining based on the library policy.

Remember, you can always contact your local library for assistance. We're here to help! Contact information can be found here.

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Items on Hold

The items on hold section of My Account shows you which items you currently have on hold, holds that are available for pickup and the overall status of the holds.

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You can click the check box to the left of an item or items in order to suspend, activate, or cancel a hold or holds.

  • Suspend. You would suspend a hold if you would like to keep the hold but not have it delivered during a certain time period if it should become available then. For example, you may want to select all of your holds and suspend them before you leave on a two week vacation. By doing this no holds will be delivered for pickup while you are away.
  • Activate. Activate will end the suspension on a hold and allow it to be delivered should it become available.
  • Cancel. By canceling a hold you are eliminating the request for this item.
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There are four statuses that you may see associated with your items:

  • Waiting for Copy. When you first place a request and there are no copies available to fulfill your hold. You are waiting for a copy to become available.
  • Waiting for Capture. This means that a copy seems to have become available at a library and that library is preparing this item for either delivery or the hold shelf.
  • In Transit. This is when an item is being transferred from one library to another.
  • Ready for Pickup. This is when it is time to pick up your item!

If you need to change your pickup location, select the EDIT at the end of the line.

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Account Preferences

In the account preferences area, you can view and modify some of your personal information, notification settings, and preferences, including whether or not to keep your checkout ot hold histories.

Personal Information

Under the Personal Tab you will see your current contact information. You are currently able to change your password and email address online. Note that changing your email here will NOT change the email notification address of previously placed holds. Contact your library to change this information as well as any telephone or mailing changes.

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Notification Preferences

Under Account Preferences, there’s a tab for Notification Preferences. Here, you can set how you would like to be notified when a hold is ready for pick up. These settings will take effect on all NEW holds that you place.

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Search Preferences (including preferred search and pickup library)

Under Account Preferences, there’s a tab for Search Preferences. Here, you can set your search preferences such as default search location (which library you’d like to search, usually) and how many search hits you see per page. You can also set your preferred pick up location for holds and opt-in to keeping your history of checked-out items and holds.

Keeping Your Checkout and Holds History

If you choose to keep your history of checked out items/holds, everything you check out/request from the time you opt-in will show up under the “Check Out History” section of “Items Checked Out” or the “Holds History” section of “Holds”. The staff at the library does NOT have access to your check out history or holds history.

In accordance with Massachusetts law (General Laws, Chapter 78 Section 7) MVLC does not consider information on the library materials you’ve borrowed to be part of the public record and does not routinely retain this information. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (P.L. 107- 56), however, supersedes state law and expands the federal government's authority for access to library records to protect against international terrorism and clandestine intelligence activities. Retaining this information in your library record may potentially make it available to law enforcement agencies.

MVLC:Privacy policy

The Merrimack Valley Library Consortium is committed to protecting the privacy of patrons’ personal information as well as information regarding individual use of member libraries or their services.

In accordance with Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 78 Section 7: "That part of the records of a public library which reveals the identity and intellectual pursuits of a person using such library shall not be a public record … “ MVLC considers circulation and registration records identifying the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of library patrons, as well as the materials borrowed or accessed electronically, not to be part of the public record. The USA PATRIOT Act of 2001 (P.L. 107- 56) supercedes state law and expands the federal government's authority for access to library records and documents to protect against international terrorism and clandestine intelligence activities. It also expands the authority of federal law enforcement agencies to track telephone and electronic communication, including any dialing, routing, addressing, or signaling information and the actual content of the communication.

The information collected by MVLC is limited to what is believed be to be necessary or useful to conduct library business. Personal information such as name, address, phone number and email address are gathered for the purpose of identification and accountability for use of Library materials. MVLC doesn’t provide e-mail address to any third parties, except as necessary for provision of library services. Records of library use (i.e. amount of or titles of materials checked out and returned, items reserved, or services used) are maintained only for the purpose of statistics, unless otherwise authorized by the individual library user.

The intellectual pursuits of individuals using library or Internet resources are considered confidential information regardless of the age of the borrower. Such records shall not be made available to any individual or agency except pursuant to such process, order, subpoena or warrant as may be authorized under the authority of, and pursuant to, federal, state, or local law relating to civil, criminal, or administrative discovery procedures or legislative investigative power.

MVLC keeps no permanent record of Internet sites visited by library patrons, the electronic databases accessed, or the searches performed by individual patrons. Library patrons should be aware that MVLC and other Massachusetts library organizations license commercial databases from a variety of vendors. MVLC will make every effort to restrict electronic database vendors from collecting and using identifying personal information of its library users, however it provides no guarantee that personal information will not be shared with third parties.

MVLC counts the number of viewers of different web pages within the sites it hosts, using standard web server log files. This information is collected in order to improve the content offered on those sites and may be used to compile statistical reports. These logs do not include names, phone numbers, addresses, email addresses or other identifying personal information.

Email messages sent to MVLC or a member library may be stored or forwarded to others within MVLC or to member library staff in order to respond to a request for information.

MVLC has appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse or alteration of information that MVLC has collected from you at our site. MVLC takes many measures to safeguard user information, but cannot and does not guarantee that every task completed via its network is private.

MVLC does not partner with or have special relationships with any ad server companies.

MVLC cannot and does not guarantee that every task completed on PCs connected to its network is private.

Individual MVLC libraries may have local Privacy Policies that may apply in addition to this consortium Policy.

Revised: 6/12