Borrowing outside of the SAILS system

With the SAILS/Enterprise catalog offering us books from over 50 libraries, most of us are able to find the books, music, and videos we want just by placing holds in the catalog. However, there are many people who have been faithful users of Virtual Catalog, the program that allows us to search almost all of the Massachusetts libraries and order books that our system doesn’t own. A smaller group of people have found that our Reference staff can search outside of Massachusetts for materials that they can’t get from SAILS or other Massachusetts libraries. This last system is officially known as Interlibrary Loan or ILL.

This spring and summer, both the Interlibrary Loan system and the Virtual Catalog program are changing.

The new Virtual Catalog program (the old one is from 2000) will be called The Commonwealth Catalog. Each of the several Massachusetts library systems will be moved over one by one. SAILS is scheduled for later in the summer. In the meantime, the old Virtual Catalog will be searching fewer systems. Minuteman and Clams are already out of the list. We aren’t sure about what this new catalog will look like, but we hope you will be able to search formats more easily. [Update: June 30 will be the last date to place requests in Virtual Catalog. Staff will be able to place requests sometime in August and patrons will be able to in September.]

At the beginning of June, the Reference staff will begin working with the Mass. Library System (MLS) to order books that we can’t get otherwise. The wonderful ILL staff at the Quincy library will step down from their role for primarily budgetary reasons. The transition looks to be seamless, and the new ILL program has some good features such as allowing us to email you from within the ordering program.

If you are having trouble finding something you are looking for, you can contact the Reference staff ( is our email.) Just provide the author, title, format, your library card number, your name, and email or phone. If the book or item is a current one – published within the last 6 months – we won’t be able to borrow it. The same goes for books (think Gone Girl) that are likely to still have holds on them in all libraries. We assume you won’t be willing to pay to borrow unless you indicate an amount. Some colleges – Harvard and MIT, for example – charge for loaning their books.

Test out the Waters with Short Stories

May is Short Story Month! (Which is funny, because I usually display short stories in December when we all have less time to read.)

Gabriel Garcia Márquez recently died. He was the author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, which I never did get through. I wondered if I would be do better reading his short stories. That made me wonder if there are some other non-English authors that I should try by reading their short stories. Russian authors such as Anton Chekov are known for their stories as is the Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. If you would like to test the waters of foreign writers, try some of these books:

Short Stories translated from French

Short Stories translated from Italian

Short Stories translated from Portuguese

By the rivers of Babylon, and other stories by Jorge de Sena

Stories by Gabriel Garcia Márquez

Stories by Jorge Luis Borges

Stories by Anton Chekov

Short Stories translated from Russian

Short Stories translated from German

Short Stories translated from Swedish