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I've written in the past about how much I love our library and even though the post is a few years old, the love continues.  In fact, with two kids, our oldest who loves to read and our youngest who is getting interested in reading, we use it more and more!

So, imagine my delight when I spent a little time and investigated a link in my account to something called MeLCat.  I've seen it before and I knew a little about it, in that it was a tool that tied our library in with other libraries around the state.   Pretty cool concept, but I never really explored it further until recently.

All I can say is WOW!

MelCat: 100+ Libraries In One

Turns out that the list of participating libraries across the state is well over 100.  And the amount of stuff that you can share is practically endless.  It's essentially have access to 100 libraries all while walking through the doors of our own.

Here are some of the things it has to offer:

  • Book sharing – Our library is one of the bigger ones in the area and has lots and lots of books.  Quite honestly, I've never run of books to read.  Between keeping up with favorite authors and just looking around, I can always find something to read.  Still, they can't stock everything, and there have been times where I have wanted to read a different book by an author I like, only to find out that our library doesn't have it.  I haven't done a scientific search, but so far in searching through a half dozen or so books that I'd wanted to read, they're available to borrow.  All you have to do is put in a request, and the other library will send it over to ours.  It might take a couple of days or a few weeks to arrive, but what a cool feature!
  • Online materials – Lots of libraries, including ours, are purchasing online materials such as eBooks, audio
    Photo by EthanN77 courtesy of MorgueFile.

    Photo by EthanN77 courtesy of MorgueFile.

    books, or downloadable music.  You can share this, as well!

  • Databases – When I was in school, if you wanted to do research you had to go to the library as we didn't have the Internet at our disposal.  While the Internet has information on just about everything, the problem is that it's often incorrect.  After all, anybody can put anything out there whether it's true or not.  The participating libraries in MeLCat have provided access to all sorts of different databases and research material.  As our kids progress in their education, I think that this will be a huge wealth of knowledge for them, and I can even see it providing information on things that interest me.  For example, they have a huge combined database of materials on our wonderful state of Michigan.  Sometimes, I get in a mood to find out more about the history of things, so I can see myself losing an afternoon.  Better this than wasting hours on Buzzfeed!
  • I'm sure there's more – I just got the gist of all the information above by spending a little bit of time on the site.  Looking around, I have to believe I'm going to uncover even more, and that more cool stuff will be added.

Scratching The Surface

I've used it to get a couple of eBooks, CDs, and to get one book by an author I enjoyed.  But I know that there is access to so much more.

I picture that there's a room in our library with 100+ doors.  Each one that opens takes you to an entirely different library.

How is that not one of the coolest things ever?

Readers, do you use your library and those in surrounding communities?  Does it even make sense to buy books anymore with such easy access?  Tell me what you think in the comments below.