Library selections to expand greatly at click of button

If the number of materials at the disposal of Mesa County Public Library District patrons has been the equivalent of “The Great Gatsby” — plentiful but not overwhelming — then the extent of books, DVDs, government documents and other items about to become available to local bookworms will look more like “War and Peace.”

The library on Wednesday plans to roll out a new catalog that will afford library users access to 10 times more titles than they currently enjoy, marking the latest effort by administrators to provide urban levels of service to a more rural population.

“If you’ve ever been to one of the big libraries on the Front Range, the Jefferson County Public Library or the Denver Public Library, and thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to have all of this?’ with basically a click of the button and a couple days’ wait, Western Slope residents will,” said Shana Wade, public services director for the library.

The Marmot Library Network, which offers 3 million selections in its catalog to the Mesa County Library District and 14 other libraries in western Colorado, signed an agreement that allows Marmot to join the Prospector regional union catalog. Prospector’s catalog, which serves 26 libraries on the Front Range and in Wyoming, contains 27 million items.

The agreement effectively combines the databases of the catalogs.

“We’re opening a path for you to get your hands on a book anywhere in the state as seamlessly as you do today,” said Jimmy Thomas, executive director of Marmot.

The Mesa County Library District and Western State College will be the first two Western Slope institutions to offer 30 million materials to their users. Other libraries will come online with the expanded catalog in the next four to six months, Wade said.

The materials’ expansion was made possible by a $226,000 federal grant for which Mesa State College, the Mesa County Library District and Marmot jointly applied. It was the largest such grant awarded in Colorado last year, Wade said.

While the grant funded the joining of the systems, each individual library will be responsible for annual system-maintenance costs. Wade said she isn’t sure what that will cost the Mesa County Library District.

Library patrons long have been able to access books and materials outside the Marmot catalog through interlibrary loans. But that system took two to four weeks to process a request and deliver an item to the user. With Prospector, residents will be able to obtain a title within three to five days, Wade said.


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