Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Searching for Books in W Mass Libraries

Here's how to find books, CDs, tapes, DVDs, etc. in western Mass. libraries. Not only can you find the books, you can easily request items from another library in western Mass. & have it delivered to the library of your choosing. All you need is a public library card. It's very simple!

To search the library catalog for all western Mass. libraries (sometimes known as C/W Mars), go to your library web site & find the link, or go directly to

From here, you can search by title, author, or keyword. A keyword search lets you search by any words that appear in the title, author, subject heading, or most other fields in the book / CD / tape’s catalog entry. Kind of like Google.

At the keyword search screen, you can also search by “material type”, which is library-language used to distinguish a printed book from an audio book (and to sub-distinguish between a book on tape vs a book on CD). Using this box, you can also search for music on CD or music on tape, or videotapes, or DVDs, or even large print books. You have to enter a word in the search box as well.

For example, you could search for “bluegrass” in the keyword box and “material type” = “music(tape)” to find 9 cassette tapes of bluegrass music. These 9 tapes are housed in various libraries around the area – Belchertown, Springfield, Williamsburg, for instance.

To find out more about it, click on the title of the cassette, book, DVD, etc. that you want. You’ll see what we librarians call the “full record”, which includes the author, title, location of the book, some notes about it (maybe), and the subject headings.

If you want to borrow one (and you have a library card), simply click on the orange button at the top left of the “full record” screen. Type in your library card number and your PIN (you can leave this blank if you don’t have one).

Here’s the fun part: select a pickup location. They will deliver the item you want to ANY library in western Mass – so you can select your “home” library, a library near where you work, or one that you drive by on your way home. They’ll send you an email or give you a call when the item is ready, and all you have to do is go to that library & request your book, tape, etc.

I use this A LOT and love it. Hope you do too!