Librarians Get Resourceful During Loan Shutdown 

Until last month, on any given day, there were about six thousand items being transported between libraries in the state – the requests of people doing research, or tracking down particular books.But the service has come to a sudden halt, leaving many folks frustrated.”We have at the Belfast Free Library about 50 thousand items on our shelves,” says director Steve Norman. “But there are about 9-million items available statewide you can request.”Norman says until recently, every month they would lend and borrow about 3 thousand books, movies, and other resources from libraries around the state through the interlibrary loan program.”It was working very well,” says reference librarian Betsy Paradis. “People would make their requests and within a couple of days or over a weekend their items would be here. They were really happy. So its been tough without it.”When a new delivery vendor terminated their contract unexpectedly in July the program came to a halt, leaving items piled up around the state.”It’s hard. We hate to leave people hanging,” she says.They say everyone from children to serious researchers used the system.”You can have almost any library in the state of Maine deliver something to your hometown library just like that,” says John Clayton, who has been using the system for years. “It’s been a real inconvenience, I think, that’s it’s been down lately.”Dean Corner with the Maine State Library says they’re working hard to sign a new delivery contract in the next few weeks, but at the very least the shutdown has illustrated how many people in the state rely on the loan service.”Every day, we have a stream of people asking us if interlibrary loan is working again,” Norman says at the Belfast Free Library. “So there really is a strong sense of dismay and disappointment that it isn’t working now.”Until the program is up and running again, they’ll be taking matters into their own hands.”We librarians are resourceful,” Paradis says. “We’ve been doing deliveries ourselves to try and make up for it.”