In Sight: Lisbon Library joins sharing service

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Diane Nadeau, director of the Lisbon Library, evaluates books on the bookshelves. Nadeau checks every book in the library to make sure it is still relevant, so it can be entered into the Maine InfoNet Library System. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

Diane Nadeau likes to end each day being able to say to herself, “I did something good today.”

She is the Lisbon Library director and she is leading a two-year project of re-cataloguing the library’s holdings to make them compliant with the Maine InfoNet Library System.

It’s a massive undertaking, but, Nadeau said, “We wanted our patrons, wonderful people in a hardworking community, to have the services they deserved. And they love it. The timing was right, I have good staff, and they were all on board.”

Lisbon Library signed up with the InfoNet program last May. The program is a statewide sharing system run by the Maine State Library connecting smaller libraries across the state. The annual rates are charged based on the populations of each community, making it affordable for small communities to gain access to a much larger collection of books.

The decision to join the system triggered the enormous task of re-cataloguing each book in the library.

Nadeau personally evaluates each book to make sure it is still relevant. Books that are not being regularly checked out, or are deemed irrelevant, are diverted to a book sale.

“A macrame book from 2000, let’s face it: Nobody’s making macrame plant hangers anymore. But quilting and wire jewelry are popular now,” Nadeau said.

She makes some decisions based on subjective value. “If I have a book that is the only copy in the state, and I feel it is of import, then I feel it is our duty to be keepers of information,” she said.

The books then are barcoded with more detailed information. Whereas a book was once catalogued by just its title and author, it now has detailed genres and sub-genres. For example, if you like medical thrillers, you can search all of those in the state.

One outcome of the InfoNet system is that small libraries are cooperating to gain access to entire series of books for small-library patrons. Instead of having to buy every book in a series, a small-community librarian can look online and see what is available at other libraries.

“If you step up and buy the first four, sometimes another library buys five and six, and another library buys seven and eight,” Nadeau said.

Nadeau has a good understanding of her patrons.

“You get to know your community,” she said. “We have a lot of crafters, a lot of people love to cook in this community. I am very aware of that when I do an order.”

She added,”Our craft books are going out like crazy. We are happy to share!”

Lisbon Library sent out 203 books last month and its patrons have borrowed 189 books from other libraries in the state.

If you order a book, you could have it in a week. Nadeau said. “That’s almost better than Amazon Prime, frankly, and you don’t have to buy it. It goes back!”

Cyndi Medlen, the Lisbon Library cataloguer, updates the barcodes on a stack of books in the library on Wednesday afternoon. (Andree Kehn/Sun Journal)

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