WINDHAM – The Windham Public Library has been accepted into the Minerva system, a consortium of dozens of Maine libraries that provides access to 6 million items and advanced computer software.

According to library Director Jen Alvino, patrons will have full access to the Minerva catalogue by late November. Patrons will be able to log into the system from home and place requests for items from 60 libraries across the state. Patrons then pick up the item at the library.

Maine InfoNet, the organization that operates Minerva, accepted three new libraries into the system last month. The Freeport Community Library and the Maine College of the Art library were accepted, as well.

The system will cost about $7,900 annually. The Town Council approved funding for the Minerva system in the library’s budget this year.

The library has traditionally used an interlibrary loan system, in which patrons request that librarians order a book on their behalf. The books are retrieved from libraries across the country, and can take weeks to arrive. The Minerva system will be much quicker and more efficient, Alvino said.

“Using Minerva, people will be able to request items right online through a catalog from these other libraries and the items will be delivered within a few days,” Alvino said.

Earlier this year, Alvino eliminated the library’s $2 fee for interlibrary loan requests. She said that requests through Minerva would be free, as well. Since repealing the fee, interlibrary loan requests have increased from about 20 per month to 60. Alvino expects requests to swiftly surpass 1,000 monthly once the Minerva system comes online.

“It’s so exciting,” Alvino said. “It’s something that the library staff has been working toward, and we’ve been talking about for a really long time.”

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