Joining MAIN Q & A

January 4, 2021 // Filed under Blog

JOINING MAIN: Q & A with Library Director, Alexandria Arnold

Q:  What is MAIN?

A:  MAIN stands for The Morris Automated Information Network. It is a group of 38 public libraries located in Morris, Somerset, Warren and (soon!) Hunterdon Counties. MAIN’s mission is to lead and encourage collaboration, resource sharing, staff development and innovation by providing high-quality, cost-effective shared services to member libraries for their communities.

Q:  Why join MAIN?

A:  Library officials have reviewed the idea of joining a consortium over the past 10 years or so and now is the right time. As a stand-alone library, we were facing the ever-growing costs and technical complexities of maintaining our own automation system while we were missing out on some important information and materials sharing opportunities for our patrons. Joining MAIN provides an amazing expansion for our patrons while affording the library with the technical expertise and support needed to keep our system running.

Q:  What are some of the benefits of MAIN that will directly benefit library patrons?

A:  There are quite a few! Patrons will be able to borrow from nearly 5 million items available from 38 member-libraries. In addition to doubling the access to materials, joining MAIN expands the “shop-from-home” experience. From the safety and comfort of home, patrons can see everything that all 38 libraries own, make their selections and have the items sent to Bernardsville for check out. That means that a patron can order a book on bread baking from Roxbury, a novel from Mount Olive and a book on auto repair from Chester and have them all sent to Bernardsville for pick up in just a few days. What’s more, those books can be picked up and returned at any MAIN library. That means if you live in Bernardsville but you work in Roxbury, you can have your books sent to the Roxbury Library for pick up during your lunch break.

Patrons will also have access to a wider range of digital information and downloadable items, and a mobile app will be available in the near future.

Q:  With all that the library is gaining, is joining MAIN going to add significant costs to operating the library?

A:  No. The great part is that joining MAIN is actually going to cost a little bit less than if the library were to remain independent. The bottom line is that we will pay less and get more because of the economies of scale.

Q: Are there any issues that patrons need to be aware of?

A: There will be some temporary disruptions during the transition period which is January 8 through January 18. During that time patrons will not be able to place holds on items and they may not have access to the catalog. Staff won’t have access to the patron database and won’t be able to look up card numbers and patron information, so in order to check out materials during the transition, it is critical that patrons have their library cards. Patrons who do not have their library cards with them will not be able to check out materials until the data transition is completed.

In the longer term, patrons will need to pay careful attention to due dates and renewals. A major benefit of being part of MAIN is that patrons can request materials from any of the 38 libraries in MAIN and have them sent to Bernardsville for pick up. However, patrons must remember that each library sets its own loan periods and automatic renewals, so a patron who is checking out items that were sent from Roxbury, Madison and Bernards Township may have items with several different due dates. Patrons will receive courtesy email reminders three days before the due date of each item. Although many of the loan periods may be longer than what patrons are currently used to, we encourage all patrons to monitor their accounts to stay abreast of due dates and renewals.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to add about joining MAIN?

A: Joining MAIN is an exciting and economical way to increase service levels to our patrons. Our patrons will have the use of a shared collection that provides them with easy access to nearly twice as many items as are available to them now. The library will have the technical support it needs to function and all of it will cost less than the library would spend as a stand-alone entity. We thoroughly researched our options and MAIN was clearly the winner on every front.


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