How to Use the New PrairieCat Catalog

Access the New PrairieCat Catalog to view collections from libraries throughout 22 counties in northern Illinois. Discover more than 5 million items from home or at the library! 

get to prairiecatTo start exploring the catalog or access your account, click on My Library Account or start a search in the Search Bar, both located on the top right section of our web site.

Quick Tips

  • Log in first, using your library card number.
  • Your PIN number is the last 4 digits of your library barcode unless you have changed it.
  • PrairieCat will search all libraries unless you choose a specific library location.
  • If you are at a public computer in a library, don’t forget to log out before you leave the computer.


Enter search terms such as a book title, an author, or a particular subject. The Search Results page displays items that match your search terms. 

You must log in to access all the features that the catalog offers. When you log in and perform a search, the Search Results page and the Resource page list availability at your home library first. The catalog lists availability at other locations after the home location.

Refine the Results

  • Refine a search to narrow the search results. 
  • Select filters from the Refine Results panel such as Format, Age Group, Language, Locations, etc. 
  • After selecting a filter, select Apply.
  • Select Reset Filters to clear the filters. 
  • Select the lock icon to retain those filters in your next search.

Find the Item

Once you find the item you would like, select the Library Location to view the Call Number. 

Save the Search

On the Search Results Page, select Save Search. You can save up to 100 searches. Saved searches remain in your account until you delete them. 

Explore the Search

If you select a title or an author, the catalog displays information about the resource and related items, contributors, and topics that you can also explore.

My Bookshelf

Log in to view your account information, saved lists, checkouts, holds, fines, and fees. You can save search queries to My Bookshelf for later use. You can create and edit lists to organize your Bookmarked items. And, you can opt in to view and save your reading history.

my bookshelf


View the items currently checked out and their due dates. 


View the items you have on hold and if they are available for pickup. You can also cancel holds or freeze holds. 

Fines and Fees

View any money owed and pay online.


View your account information such as address, expiration date, etc.

Reading History

This retains information on the titles you have checked out and returned. You may sort by checkout date, title, or author.

To opt in, select My Bookshelf then select Profile. Select Keep Reading History. If you chose to opt in under the previous catalog, your reading history will sync to the new catalog.


If we do not own a title or it is not currently available, you have the ability to place a hold on the title and receive it from another library.

  • Log in to your account.
  • Search for the title and select the format you want from the rollup tab.
  • Select the Place Hold button.
  • Confirm pickup location. The pickup location will automatically default to your library; however, you may choose a different pickup location.
  • A Request Successful message will appear when the hold is placed.
  • You will be contacted when your item is ready for pickup.

Renewing Items

Items may be renewed as long as your account is in good standing, there are no holds on the material, or you haven’t already exceeded the renewal limit. Check with library staff for specific renewal periods.

  • Log in to your account.
  • Select My Bookshelf, then the Checkouts tab. 
  • Select the Renew button next to the item you want to renew. 
  • You will receive a message if the renewal is successful or not.

Opt in to Text Alerts

Text alerts can only be set up by you, not library staff. Follow these instructions on setting up text alerts for your account. Reminder: texts alerts are an additional alert and do not replace email or phone notifications.