Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The Libraries of Fairmont State have joined with Marion County Public Libraries and the Marion County Board of Education public school libraries to form a consortium that will launch MARLO (MARion Libraries Online), a shared online library system that will allow the public to search the holdings of every library at once.

MARLO was initiated and is being financed by Fairmont State. Fairmont State University President Daniel Bradley said the formation of the consortium is a great way to save costs and increase services for the region's library patrons.

"We hope that other counties and higher education institutions will join us in the future to make it even better," Bradley said. "The consortium is an important contribution to the development of the region and one that FSU is happy to make happen."

MARLO will replace various systems in the county with the latest Millennium version of Innovative Interfaces, widely considered to be one of the best library systems in the world. The new online cataloguing system will be the consortium's first electronic resource sharing project and will allow the libraries to maximize their efficiency.

"It is no longer possible for each library alone to afford all of the books, DVDs, CDs and other materials that users want," said Thelma Hutchins, Director of the Libraries of Marion County. "Combined, we can afford to provide much better resources to meet the informational needs of all the citizens of Marion County. Every library will also benefit from a greatly expanded ability to organize records and present them in a far more attractive and usable way."

The libraries will be able to link to reviews and other resources, making the online catalogue a portal to a wide range of materials from electronic databases and Internet locations, she said.

"We've gone from a Yugo to a Cadillac," said Erika Reed, Director of the Marion County Public Libraries.

Marion County Superintendent of Schools James Phares said sharing the online system in partnership with FSU and the Marion County Libraries is an exciting venture.

"The additional resource sharing is a tremendous learning opportunity for our students and staff," Phares said. "Technology is expanding our knowledge resource base and this will benefit every citizen of Marion County."

Nancy Haddix, North Marion High School media specialist, agreed.

"I think this a great way to educate our students about the resources we have available," Haddix said. "It will be a great tool to support the educational process across the county."

The consortium's board of directors includes Hutchins; Haddix; Reed; and Robert Hammonds, Fairmont State cataloguing librarian.