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  February 9, 2004

Borrowing From Library Consortium
Made Easier With "Virtual Catalog"

Perusing the catalogs and borrowing materials from Brown, Tufts, and the University of Massachusetts will soon become easier - and quicker - for members of the UConn community.

Starting February 16, faculty, students, staff, and retirees will be able to use the Boston Library Consortium's (BLC) "Virtual Catalog" to simultaneously search the library catalogues of those three institutions and 10 other participating members of the consortium; request items that are unavailable at any of the UConn Libraries; then pick up and return the materials at their campus library.

"This new service will streamline users' search of and access to expanded resources that complement our holdings, and, in doing so, significantly enhance teaching and learning at UConn," says Brinley Franklin, director of University Libraries.

To use the BLC Virtual Catalog, users will simply go to http://www.lib., sign in with their University ID number, and request material.

The turnaround time from requesting to receiving material is expected to be seven days or less. BLC members use a commercial delivery service (currently UPS) to ship materials quickly and reliably.

The link to the Virtual Catalog also appears at the top of each of the University Libraries' online catalog ("Homer") pages with the label "BLC." In addition, if a search does not produce any results in the online catalog, users will be offered the option of trying the BLC Virtual Catalog.

The Virtual Catalog includes books and items that can normally be checked out. Materials not available are books that are already checked out, journals, reference items, course reserves, audio-visuals, or other special collections. The BLC will begin a project later this year to extend the Virtual Catalog service to journal articles.

Unlike interlibrary loan, which requires users to key in information that can produce citation errors and subsequent delays, the Virtual Catalog's direct method of searching and requesting materials is expected to be more expeditious.

Institutions currently participating in the BLC Virtual Catalog include: Boston University; Brown University; Marine Biology Lab-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; University of New Hampshire; Northeastern University; Tufts University; the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Boston, Dartmouth, and Lowell, and UMass-Medical at Worcester; Wellesley College; and Williams College.

Although the new service for borrowing materials begins next week, the University Library has already received and shipped its first Virtual Catalog lending request.

"A request from Umass-Boston was handled without a hitch on December 17," Franklin says. "We are confident that our own users will find the service just as seamless."

UConn first became a member of the BLC, New England's most prestigious library association of academic and research libraries, in September 2002. Among the consortium's offerings are BLC Ask 24/7, an online reference service, and the BLC card, which allows users to borrow materials onsite at other BLC libraries.

For further information about the BLC's Virtual Catalog, go to:

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