NYPL Online Catalog Causes Delays in Troubled Debut

Normally, lines at the public library would be a good thing. But not when the lines are caused by problems with the New York Public Library’s new online catalog system.

The system, which integrates the catalogs for circulating and noncirculating materials and was designed to improve search functions, was introduced Monday morning. It handles all of the library’s data, both online and at the branches.

The malfunctions on Monday caused delays for patrons waiting to check out or renew books at the branches, and impeded access to personal accounts that allow users to renew or hold books online.

The problems continued on Tuesday. At 1:40 p.m. at the Mid-Manhattan Library on Fifth Avenue at 40th Street, a line of more than 50 people stretched past an escalator. Harried librarians scanned books while patrons tapped their feet, checked their watches and occasionally rolled their eyes.

“It’s a disaster,” said Debbie Wolf, an analyst for the New York City Housing Authority, who said she had been waiting for 15 minutes.