Wicomico Library gets needed computer upgrades

Three years after planning began, the Wicomico County Library, “is getting software as a 21st Century facility,” Director Andrea Berstler said.

The library has entered into a partnership with seven other Eastern Shore counties and the Eastern Shore Regional Library to provide an “all-inclusive integrated library catalog to keep track of items, store information and help with organization,” Berstler explained.

The online system will “significantly improve the management of library resources, give members greater access to more materials and improve the availability of new titles,” she said.

It will also offer a user-friendly modern catalog and access to the collections libraries in Wicomico, Worcester, Somerset, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot and Caroline counties.

The digital collection of e-books, downloadable music and movies will be displayed in the library catalog. And, the new system will be more mobile friendly.

“It will look more like Amazon” and have a faceted search, meaning patrons can specify what they want, Berstler said.

“It can be accessed from anywhere. We can do more out in the community, like at neighborhood block parties. All we need is an iPad and we can take the library with us. We can take a couple boxes of books and go to events like 3rd Friday,” Berstler said.

With the new system, patrons will see books available in all eight county libraries, more than twice as many as are now available.

“Every collection has a little different items and each town and county have different items. Here, a lot of people come in and get cookbooks. People come in and borrow them all the time. Every library has an interest and spends more time on that collection,” Berstler said.

The four Lower Shore counties have “always had a shared catalog, so when we go online and look up a book, you see all the books all four libraries have,” Berstler said.

Now that four more counties have been added, the consortium is “a pretty good size,” she said. “Eight counties is a third of the state.”

The Downtown library was closed while software was replaced, but re-opened last Friday.

Items from other libraries will continue to be delivered by van that runs from library to library, as they have for years.

Vans travel the Shore every day, except in Hurlock and on Smith Island. As the expansion begins, Berstler said it isn’t yet know if more vans will be needed.

The Downtown library closed Aug. 12 so final software could be installed. No library materials were due until Wednesday this week. No fines for late books were charged while it was closed.

Library cardholders can go in to verify information in their library accounts and take a photo ID with current address.

Reach Susan Canfora at scanfora@newszap.com.

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