Grand County libraries: Research the region, state and nation with local library card
February 22, 2008
I wanted information about a very rare book that was written more than 200 years ago.
The book is called, simply, “A Dictionary of the English Language,” by Samuel Johnson.
Don’t be fooled by the mundane title of this book. Johnson’s dictionary is no normal dictionary.
The following gives a hint: “Johnson’s Dictionary, like the works of Shakespeare, is one of those rare monuments of literature that embodies its language and culture while retaining the distinctiveness and immediacy of its creator’s personality.”
Now, that’s a rare book worth finding and researching.
My first step was to go to my local library right here in Granby. But could that library really have information about this rare book?
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I was surprised by what I discovered.
It didn’t have the book itself (a true collector’s item worth millions), but it did have access to reproductions of the book, reprints and commentary from across the state of Colorado and information about the book from across the U.S. I must say that I was impressed.
How in the world did my local library do it? Here’s how.
What I couldn’t find in Granby relating to this dictionary, I was able to get through access to all five Grand County Libraries, the Marmot Library Consortium in Western Colorado, the Interlibrary Loan Program and the Colorado Library Card Program.
What this means is that while I’m a library cardholder in Granby, I’m really able to conduct research and find books as if I was a library cardholder in all of Colorado.
For instance, my Granby library card can get me books or other research materials from the other four libraries in Grand County. It’s as if the Fraser Valley, Juniper Library in Grand Lake, Hot Sulphur Springs and Kremmling libraries were right there in Granby. All I have to do is request the item I want. And in a day or two, if the item is available, I’ll have it in Granby.
But the reach of my library card goes far beyond the borders of Grand County.
Take, for instance, the Marmot Library Consortium. This is a system of resource sharing directly from any library on the Western Slope that is part of the Marmot Library Consortium. All five Grand County libraries are a part of this system and through it Grand County library cards can be used to borrow books from participating libraries in towns like Telluride and Grand Junction, or even more academic works from libraries like Mesa State College and Colorado Mountain College.
So, if a library in Telluride had an updated version of Johnson’s dictionary that reflected his second amendments, I could order it from there through Marmot. This would be a good way to go because books in the Marmot system are easy to get. They are ordered through a “hold.” This is the same way a library patron or a library staff member places a hold for a book right here within Grand County.
It works easily because all the member libraries use the same software and they are able to share materials more efficiently than ever before. Even better, the Marmot system loan is even faster than a traditional interlibrary loan because items usually arrive in two to three days.
But there was one book on Johnson’s Dictionary that was sitting on some library shelf in central Nebraska. I could get that book through Granby because of the Interlibrary Loan program.
This is a free service that allows Grand County Library District patrons to borrow books from all over Colorado and the United States. It takes longer (anywhere from seven to 10 business days), but it can be extremely useful for people doing research on something like Samuel Johnson’s “Dictionary.”
I could have gotten the book I wanted from the Library of Congress, Jefferson County, Colorado State University or the University of Colorado, but the particular edition I wanted was in Nebraska.
I was referred to the possibilities of the interlibrary loan program (there’s no charge) by going to http://www.gcld.org/services.htm#HoldsILL. The library also has an electronic web-form for these types of requests, so I could request this book from Nebraska online without leaving the comfort of my couch. But I spoke with the adult services librarian to make sure I was getting the right edition.
There’s something about a book, however, that wants to be held and touched. And supposing I wanted to hold something like Johnson’s “Dictionary,” the only way I could do so would be to go and check it out. That’s where the Colorado Library Card Program comes in handy.
The Colorado Library Card Program allows Colorado library cardholders to check out materials from any participating library in the state. So, since I have a library card from the Granby Library, that enables me to visit the Denver Public Library and check out materials as if I lived and worked in Denver.
It was easy to use. I took my library card from Granby to the library in Denver. That library used the card to provide the service by issuing to me one of its cards. Other libraries simply would have placed an additional barcode on my card. Some Grand County library cardholders also have library cards in Summit County, Eagle, Denver, and Colorado Springs using the Colorado Library Card reciprocal borrowing privileges. And of course, people with library cards in all of those communities can come here and use our libraries.
To find out more about participating libraries, go online at http://projects.aclin.org/directory/.
And how, you may ask, do all these library books and materials move all around the state and county for the convenience of library users? It’s called the statewide library courier service. Colorado offers this comprehensive service statewide, allowing for the fast and efficient transport of books and materials, statewide.
In my efforts to learn more about Samuel Johnson’s “Dictionary of the English Language” I discovered more than information about this “vast” and “distinctive” dictionary.
I found out that I can find a lot right here in Grand County, all with my local library card – a card that gives me access to all of the county, the region, the state and even the United States.
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