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Colby, Bates and Bowdoin colleges are pleased to introduce Maine’s first online statewide library catalog. On January 4 the Maine Info Net system was turned on and the Colby, Bates and Bowdoin library collections with more than two million items became available to participating libraries throughout the state.

This ambitious state-funded program enhances library services throughout Maine. It is open to any Maine library that wishes to participate. Patrons of Maine Info Net libraries will be able to search the holdings of member libraries through their local library computers. Requests to borrow materials are initiated online. Books will be sent to the patron’s home library for pick-up by the requester.

URSUS, the University of Maine system, joined Maine Info Net in mid-January. Beginning in March, Portland Public Library and many other libraries will add their catalogs to the online information system. Maine Info Net was funded through a bond issue approved by Maine voters in June 1996, and will eventually combine the information resources of academic, public and school libraries and many research and medical institutions. Maine is the first state to implement an on-line statewide system that includes academic, public, state and school libraries.

More than a decade ago, the three libraries established direct document delivery services, collaboratively automated their catalogs, and began jointly acquiring electronic resources. More recently, through support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, they introduced shared videoconferencing capability, faculty and staff technology training efforts, collaborative development of web-based instructional materials and establishment of study abroad programs in London, Quito, Ecuador, and Cape Town, South Africa.

Participation in Maine Info Net represents a commitment by the three private colleges to partner with the University of Maine and public and private libraries statewide on educational endeavors, to strengthen the state’s economy and to broadly make accessible to the citizens of Maine the historically rich library resources held by the three college libraries.