@YOUR LIBRARY: Changes are happening at the local library

I attended a library workshop a few years ago entitled “Change is Good. You Go First.”

We are in a period of change at the library, first noticed as we all surrendered our time-honored and memory-friendly five-digit library card number in return for a 14-digit megalith. And all the books, DVD’s and audiobooks are similarly receiving a fourteener.

This re-barcoding of items does cause some delay at the circulation desk, but we are powering through the last 40,000 (!) items. If you might want to help with this process (simply entering two numbers at a time into the computer), please give the library a call (222-0852); we will be delighted to deputize you.

And you’ve noticed that we have discontinued the centuries-old practice of stamping due dates on checked out items. Now you get a printed receipt with your items’ titles and due dates — a handsome bookmark, or something easily retained under one of your refrigerator magnets.

And more. Now, those seven-day books, DVD’s and magazines all check out for two weeks. (Fourteen days — that number again; what’s with that? Numerology, anyone?) These two-week checker-outers are now designated as new books. Anything that used to check out for three weeks now checks out for four weeks Everything can still be renewed two times, unless someone else is waiting.

Regrettably, the three-day grace period we’ve long had in place for overdue items is now but a memory, like floppy disks. R.I.P.

The reason for these changes is our library’s new membership in the Montana Shared Catalog; as the newest member, we join the 177 other public, school, academic, medical and special libraries already on board. What this means for you is a more robust library

catalog — easier to search for items you’re interested in, improved circulation services (though, alas, you’ve not have noticed any improvement these last 10 days or so as we have experienced excruciating Internet connectivity problems), and the vigorous ongoing cooperation among all the libraries in the successful pursuit of enhanced library services in Montana.

Look for more changes as the year moves on. Particularly notable will be a much greater ease in requesting books or other items that our library does not own. Of course, currently known as inter-library loans, many of these transactions will in the future look simply like placing a hold on a title. The hold will be filled with a copy of the item owned by another Shared Catalog library, and there will be no fee charged for such a loan.

Now a quick look at some newly received titles. The themes of change and newness are continued by a couple of authors introducing new characters. Janet Evanovich launches a new series with “Curious Minds.” Our heroes here are Knight (he’s rich and very charming) and Moon (she’s an overachieving Harvard Law grad), an unlikely, and at first unwilling, pair of crime fighters. In “Smooth Operator,” Stuart Woods presents us with a problem that Stone Barrington cannot handle. How could that be?? Fortunately, Stone knows a guy, Teddy Fox, ex-CIA, master of disguise, and just generally a rogue — problem solved This is book one for old Teddy.

While schlepping something heavy around, who hasn’t thought something about a Sherpa to do the heavy lifting. Look beyond our casual use of the term with author Peter Zuckerman in“Buried in the Sky,” an exciting —and true — mountaineering tale with much interesting to say about Sherpa culture and customs. The book focuses on two Sherpa climbers, a disastrous day on K2, and a dramatic hair-raising rescue. A fine read on many levels.

If the Internet ever comes reliably back up, many, many more new items will be available. Your library staff is optimistic, but please direct supportive thoughts our way.