Bibliomation: Milford Library joins consortium to expand collection
The size of Milford’s Public Library collection has suddenly increased dramatically, in a manner of speaking.
Last week the city library became part of Bibliomation, a network of more than 60 public libraries and 19 school libraries in the state. That means that city residents who log onto the library website (ci.milford.ct.us/milford-public-library) will be able to scroll through titles for books and other material from all of those libraries. If MIlford doesn’t have what they’re looking for, they can order it from another town, and the item will be sent to the Milford library, or a library of their choosing, for pickup.
“This is big,” said Milford Public Library Director Christine Angeli. “This is a huge change in our service model.
“This means that with one search our users will be able to look up and request items from any of the member libraries and manage their accounts online with more functionality than they currently enjoy. We will also be switching our e-book provider to Overdrive, offering more titles on an easy-to-use platform.”
Bibliomation has over one million titles and close to five million items in its member library system, according to Amy Terlaga, director of user services for Bibliomation.
Bibliomation is headquartered in Waterbury, and represents a consortium of 62 libraries around the state.
Bibliomation has existed since 1980 and is one of three such consortiums in Connecticut.
Milford actually belonged to the Bibliomation group before, but left to be on its own, running its own library program through software called Horizon.
Former Milford Library Director Jean Tsang said the city had left Bibliomation because the Milford Library staff had more control over certain functions, such as mailing overdue notices, when it kept the system in-house. She also said that at that time it cost the city more money to be part of the consortium than to run its own software program.
“At that time it cost us less to be on our own,” Tsang said, “so it was a budget matter, too.”
Angeli said the city is returning to the group because of the benefits for patrons, and because with Bibliomation handling cataloguing and system updates, the staff in Milford is freed up to spend more time addressing patron questions and needs.
Also, Angeli said joining Bibliomation will save the city thousands of dollars a year.
The increased size of the collection is the biggest benefit. Angeli said some libraries specialize in certain areas and have material that Milford doesn’t have. Middletown, for example, maintains a large collection of foreign language books and material.
Popular books in MIlford, for which there may be a waiting list, might be available at another library in the state, Angeli added.
A state van system makes rounds and will be delivering material from one library to another two days a week. Before state budget cuts, the van visited the state libraries five days a week, Angeli said.
Bibliomation uses a software called Evergreen, which is very easy for customers to use, according to Terlaga.
There will also be more ebooks to choose from, and residents will be able to get emails or texts letting them know, for example, if their books are due or if their material is overdue.
“And if patrons want to retain their check out history, they can track it for as long as they want,” Terlaga added.
The Milford Library employs 15 full-time staff, which includes five official librarians. With the time-saving Bibliomation membership, “We’ll be able to be on the desk and help customers more,” Angeli said. “We also hope to increase programming.”
Mayor Ben Blake joined Angeli and Terlaga at the library last week to talk about the switch to Bibliomation. Blake spoke of the library’s importance in Milford: He noted new library programs, an upcoming Party in the Stacks fundraiser for the library, and he pointed out that several years ago residents pushed to maintain Saturday hours at the library.
“A community is judged by how we treat our library,” Blake said.