In September MLS Executive Director Sarah Sogigian began socially distanced site visits with member libraries. The goal of these visits has been for MLS to learn about members’ response to the pandemic, and offer assistance as libraries continue to reopen to their communities.


While each member library visited is at different stage of reopening, all report increased circulation of electronic materials and increasing demand/adaptation for traditional in person services.


September visits included:

  • Thomas Crane Public Library, Quincy
  • Groton Public Library
  •  Bellingham Public Library
  • Belmont Public Library (virtual)


Pictures and “did you know” facts are posted after each visit the MLS Twitter account (@masslibsystem).


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Bellingham Public Library- has a “fog machine” that can sanitize the whole building with no chemicals. Part of their daily schedule of keeping the building sanitized.
Groton Public Library- was able to set up a checkout window in the children’s room. Staff painted pumpkins that are currently serving as 6ft space reminders.


2020 Keynote Speaker Dr. Derrick Gay

The agenda will include- 

  • Our annual Business Meeting.
  • A Keynote address from Dr. Derrick Gay on Re-Framing Diversity for the 21st Century: Mirrors and Windows in Our Library Collections.
  • The presentation of our NEW Strategic Plan with Consultant Stephanie Chase.

The MLS Annual Meeting will be held virtually on November 2, 2020 starting at 10:00 AM, via Zoom.

The materials for our Annual Meeting are available on our Meeting Resource Guide including:

  • Packet of information for our Annual Business Meeting (2019 meeting minutes, FY22 Plan of Service and Budget, and Slate of Nominees for positions on the MLS Executive Board)
  • Our NEW Strategic Plan 2021-2024

Please note: Recorded portions of the event will not include Dr. Gay’s talk.

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MLS and MBLC are pleased to announce that the 3rd Small Libraries Forum is open for registration!

This event will be held virtually over two days on Nov 17 and 18 between 10AM – 2 PM, and is free to all attendees.

  • Opening keynote from Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Executive Director of the Mid-Hudson Library System (NY).
  • Spotlights on Success – ignite sessions will highlight work that has been done in small libraries across the Commonwealth.
  • Panels with Libraries in the Woods and Collaborations with outside organizations.
  •  Networking and discussion on Day 2 with Virtual Table Talks through Zoom.

This event is made possible by a grant from The Manton Foundation.

In 2019, MLS received a generous grant from the Manton Foundation to support training

opportunities for small libraries:

·       Working in partnership with other New England libraries, MLS used a portion of the grant to offer five webinars on important management topics for small libraries. The webinars were provided by ALA. Library staff could view the live or recorded version. Through mid-September, over 1,400 library staff in Massachusetts had viewed the webinars.

·       A small portion of the funds was used to purchase a subscription to ALA’s five-part “Essentials for Library Workers” recorded webinar series. As of mid-September, 71 library staff in Massachusetts had registered for this recorded webinar series.

·       The Manton Foundation grant will also help us support the Small Library Forums in 2020 and 2021.


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Interlibrary Loan Update

September was the second full month in which the ILL team physically processed items at the Marlborough office. Staff hosted a successful online discussion for library staff responsible for ILL. We will continue to run these through the coming year in lieu of on-site ILL trainings. Thank you to Resource Sharing Assistant Laura Bogart for coordinating this effort.



ILL activity is picking up with K-12 schools, academics, as well as public libraries re-opening their services to patrons. The Commonwealth Catalog (ComCat) returned to operation on September 21st, which was welcomed by member libraries as well as ILL staff, as it serves as a major tool in our mediated ILL operations. 

ILL continues to come back in fits and starts in Massachusetts, the United States, and internationally. Even with fewer requests, ILL staff are busier than ever attempting to find lenders in state and nationally. This is the new norm for the foreseeable future.


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Staff member sorting books
Resource Sharing Assistant Vincent Nguyen sorting through items for Inter Library Loan.

Interlibrary Loan (ILL) is the process by which a library requests material from, or supplies material to, another library.  The purpose of interlibrary loan is to obtain, upon request of a library user, material that would otherwise be unavailable in the user’s local library or network. 

Commonwealth eBook Collection Update

Most Circulated Titles (School Collection)


  • The Call of the Wild – J. London
  • Guts (Smile #3) – R. Telgemeier
  • A Potato on a Bike (Read-Along) – E. Gravel


  • Moana: Un Mar de Aventuras – S. Francis
  • Coco: La Novella – A. Cervantes
  • Smith’s Spy School for Girls (#1) – Beth Mcmullen
During the first month of the school year, 60% of the collection was consistently checked out.

394 Participating Members

There has been a noticeable uptick in K-12 schools joining CEC in September. There are slowdowns getting new members set up with OverDrive due to the overwhelming number of schools joining OverDrive nationally. MLS continues to work with OverDrive on this issue.

Participating schools continue to break circulation records. Collection usage surged in the spring when schools closed with a high of 44,030 circulations from the shared school collection. Circulations remained strong over the summer (30,000+ for July and August). The circulation record was broken again in September with 54,827 items circulated and is predicted to remain high as more schools continue to join the program. During the first month of the school year, 60% of the collection was consistently checked out. While this figure fluctuates, it has continued to remain above the 50% mark. 


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Commonwealth eBook Collections (CeC) is a statewide initiative to expand access to eBooks to all residents of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.  Currently, the program offers the following products to interested libraries:
​MLS member school libraries join the OverDrive K-12 Shared Sora Collection, MLS member academic, non-network public, and special libraries join the SAILS Library Network OverDrive Collection.

Delivery Update

Delivery has been busy as we navigate library reopening’s. Currently there are 444 libraries out of 550 accepting delivery. Over 1 million items were transported through delivery in September, 2020.

Help us keep delivery moving! While thousands of additional bins have been purchased by MLS and put in to circulation, we are still experiencing a shortage.  If your library has empty bins, please give them to the drivers.  Please share this message with staff managing delivery processes in your library. If you need assistance getting the bins picked up please contact


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MLS Delivery Bin

Delivery is the physical service used to get an item from one destination to the other. MLS contracts with a company called Optima Shipping to provide this service to members. MLS Delivery is provided to support the resource sharing of Massachusetts Libraries and moves between 14 and 15 million items annually among MLS member libraries and the library resource sharing networks. This service is provided at no direct cost to the networks, libraries, or their patrons.



August News and Updates

In this months News and Updates: Save the Date: Annual Meeting Database Training Sessions OverDrive K-12 Shared Sora Collection Library Website Redesign Series Save the

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