By Robbie Ward
TUPELO – A year ago this month, patrons of the libraries in Tupelo and Fulton gained access to about 20 times as many books as the Lee-Itawamba Library System contained.
That’s when the library system joined 51 other libraries in the state as part of the Mississippi Library Partnership, a sharing effort among public school, city and county, community college and university libraries. Altogether, the partnership grants patrons in any of the member libraries access to more than 3 million books, DVDs and audiobooks.
Jeff Tomlinson, director of the Lee-Itawamba Library System, said patrons here have borrowed 8,240 items from other library collections since the local system joined the partnership.
“This is a tool that greatly expands people’s ability to get what they want,” he said.
The library partnership connects libraries of different sizes and strengths of collections, from Southaven and Olive Branch at the Memphis border to libraries in Kosciusko and Winona in the central part of the state. It also grants library patrons access to materials available at libraries associated with the Mississippi University for Women and Mississippi State University, which created the original partnership 20 years ago as the Golden Triangle Regional Library Consortium.
Stephen Cunetto, systems administrator at Mississippi State University’s libraries and head of the Mississippi Library Partnership, said the shared access to materials provides access to many of the research and more academic materials found mostly at the universities and more popular titles found at public libraries.
“We all complement each other,” Cunetto said.
Length of time materials can be checked out and fines assessed for late materials are determined by each member library where materials originate.
The partnership also means each library will use a shared database that catalogues materials together, identifying which library has the materials. The shared library system uses a courier service that makes weekly deliveries and emails patrons when their item has arrived at the local library.
David Prather, children’s librarian for the Lee-Itawamba Library System, said the partnership gives children access to many more books that they can check out for free.
“There are literally thousands upon thousands of children’s books available,” he said.
For more information on the library partnership, visit library.msstate.edu/mlp.