Campus News

Bowdoin College is Now a Part of Maine Info Net

Story posted January 18, 2001

When Bowdoin students return to campus this week, they'll find a new way of searching for material at libraries around Maine.

Bowdoin, Colby and Bates along with the University of Maine system and libraries throughout Maine are participating in Maine Info Net. This resource sharing system is a state-funded cooperative program that eventually will provide a merged catalog of more than 2 million items for library patrons.

The project is being implemented by the state and by the University of Maine. The CBB libraries and the University of Maine System (URSUS) libraries went live on Info Net this month and the system got its first real workout when students returned and classes began this week.

Most Bowdoin students, faculty and staff are aware of the consortial relationship among Colby, Bates and Bowdoin. For two years, CBB patrons have been able to simultaneously search the three library catalogs and then place requests for materials. Maine Info Net soon will extend this to include materials at the University of Maine campuses, the Maine State Library and other public and academic libraries throughout the state, though CBB patrons will continue to share additional perks.

The new system will benefit the residents of Maine, by allowing them greater access to the resources of the many libraries in the state. Many states have systems similar to Info Net, but Maine's small size will likely allow a greater percentage of the state's libraries to be included in the system. It's a significant development for the state, and will be especially meaningful to people living in rural areas with only a small library.

"The libraries of the three private colleges have shared their resources with patrons of libraries worldwide for many decades through national interlibrary loan programs. We are pleased that Info Net will enable us to more easily share our rich collections with the citizens of Maine," said Sherrie Bergman, Bowdoin College librarian.

CBB patrons may search for materials at their home library, and if what they need is unavailable, they may search again in the Info Net system without retyping. Patrons may also choose to begin by searching Info Net directly. Materials are then requested online through Info Net and the request is automatically forwarded to the appropriate library. Because the CBB libraries already have a special relationship, Bowdoin requests will automatically be sent to Colby or Bates unless the requested item is not available at one of those libraries, but Bowdoin patrons now have easier access to other libraries in the state as well.

CBB patrons will continue to share some additional benefits:

  • Loans among the CBB libraries will have a quick turn-around time (usually two or three days).
  • A greater variety of materials may be loaned among the CBB libraries.
  • CBB loans have a longer loan period and allow renewals.
  • CBB cardholders have walk-in privileges at the three libraries, while cardholders at other libraries must request materials through the Info Net system.

It will be several months before all of the participating libraries are included in the catalog. Before they can be added to the system, the libraries' catalogs must be converted to an electronic format, and some of Maine's libraries still use card catalogs. Most of the Bowdoin catalog, with the exception of rare books and the Dewey Decimal collections, was converted to an electronic format in 1990.

Requests for materials that are available at Colby or Bates may now be placed directly through the Maine InfoNet catalog. Other libraries will join Maine Info Net beginning in the Spring. Until these libraries are ready for full participation in the system, Maine Info Net will not process requests placed for their materials, even though the libraries' holdings are listed in the central catalog.

Bowdoin students, faculty and staff should continue to use the interlibrary loan form for materials not available through Maine Info Net.

The Bowdoin Library is planning workshops to introduce Maine Info Net during Spring Semester. Library staff members are always available to answer your questions about this new service. Please feel free to call Leanne Pander at ext. 3260, Guy Saldanha or Ariane Bailey at ext. 3283, or Phyllis McQuaide at ext. 3280, for further information.

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