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How to get basically any book from the Bethel Library!

Do you have a To Be Read (TBR) shelf? I keep track of my TBRs in an app. I try not to buy books, instead relying on my local library to supply the books I want to read. Until recently, I have been limited to the books available in the Bethel Library collection (which is not to be sneezed at!). Unfortunately, I like to read both popular books and more esoteric tomes, such as on (sub-continent) India history and the history of the American Civil War. These types of books are not typically carried by community libraries. But that the Bethel Library is now part of MILS (Maine InfoNet Library System), the number of books available to me has suddenly increased exponentially. You too now have access to this massively increased pool of books (and other items, such as DVDs, CDs, musical scores).

What is MILS? It is a group of smaller libraries that have agreed to virtually “pool” their catalogs, and make them available to a wider group of patrons. This means that, for example, if the South Berwick Library has a book you want to read (or a DVD or a CD), you can request that particular item. This process is called putting in a “hold” for an item. An item can have a long waiting list of patrons who have placed a hold on it, or no waiting list at all. You can assume that the new book from a popular author (e.g. Colleen Hoover or Erin Hildebrand) will have a long wait. The amount of time you have to wait depends on a couple of factors: how many copies of the item are in the MILS catalog and how many other patrons have requested the item. The wait can be several weeks. The new Paul Doiron book had more than 35 holds on it when it first came out! But for me I have no problem waiting for a book I want to read but do not want to purchase. Once you are at the top of the list, the book will be sent to the Bethel Library. Items are delivered and picked up from the Bethel Library on Wednesdays. Once the item is scanned, you will receive an email notifying you that the book is in. (Note: you really want to make sure that library has your latest email address and phone number in its’ records.) You will then have seven days to pick up the item. If you don’t pick it up within seven days the item will return to the originating library and the next person on the list will receive the item.

How do you access this wonderful service? Easy. Go to the website for the Bethel Library where

you will find a helpful link. You can also go directly to the MILS website by using There is a video on the Bethel Library website that will show you how to place a hold, although it is very intuitive. Alternatively, you can call the Bethel Library at 207- 824-2520—the staff will be delighted to answer any questions.

There is one more service that has always been available, but you probably won’t need as much (or at all): interlibrary loan. Interlibrary loan allows you to find titles (again, it could be a book, or a DVD, or a CD) that the libraries that are part of MILS do not own. You will most likely have this experience if you are looking for a more scholarly or esoteric text.

I will give you an example. The librarian at the Bethel Library had to use interlibrary loan to get a

specific book I was looking for about the independence of India and Pakistan. The book was sent from the Bates College Library. If you do not find a book when you search on MILS, contact the library—the staff can initiate an interlibrary loan for you. Note that there may be costs associated with an inter-library loan because the item may need to be shipped to Bethel and then shipped back to the lending institution.

Between the expanding collection at the Bethel Library, the MILS system we are now a part

of, and inter-library loan, there is very little you can’t obtain.

My husband jokes with me that I need to leave some of the collection for others to enjoy. Hah! You can be sure that I will be maximizing this wonderful new service available to all of us.

By Jessica Jolly

Library Volunteer

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