How much can you read or watch?
How much material can your Kindle, Nook, tablet or cellphone hold?
These are questions you’ll want to ask yourself because starting in January local library card holders’ access to materials will go from 750,000 to 2.1 million items, an increase of 180 percent.
The increase is part of the Arrowhead Library System’s transition to SHARE, a new library catalog and account portal, according to a news release from Arrowhead.
The Arrowhead system includes the public libraries in Janesville, Beloit, Edgerton, Milton, Orfordville, Clinton and Evansville.
The new system will allow patrons of all the libraries in the system to pay fines and reset their pins online, said Tovah Anderson, public information coordinator for Arrowhead.
Now, only some libraries offer those services, Anderson said.
As part of the SHARE system, patrons will be able to use their cards in 28 libraries in Rock, Walworth, Kenosha and Racine counties.
But the most significant change will be in the library catalog. Along with listing results of physical items such as books, DVDs, books on CD and magazines, it will list digital items that can be downloaded with services such as OverDrive, Hoopla and Favorite Author Club.
OverDrive and Hoopla feature audiobooks, comic books, ebooks and videos. Favorite Author Club allows users to place their names at the top of the hold list for specific authors, reducing the wait time for material.
The change to the SHARE system was prompted by the need for upgrading the library’s catalog and checkout system, said Charles Teval, assistant director of the Hedberg Public Library. The system is at the end of its life.
A committee looked at upgrading the system or going to a shared catalog with other libraries.
It’s something library systems are doing across the country, said Bryan McCormick, Hedberg Library Director.
Illinois has three library systems, McCormick said. Wisconsin has 16.
Joining the SHARE system will save between $30,000 and $40,000 up front, McCormick said. Because Hedberg was the largest library in the Arrowhead system, it usually paid about half of all expenses. SHARE will spread those expenses across a larger base, he said.
In addition, it will offer patrons “a much richer collection of materials,” McCormick said.
It will not, however, eliminate the need to remodel Hedberg, McCormick and Teval said.
The library is in the middle a a private fundraising campaign for a $2.8 million remodeling project.
“The remodel is about creating a library environment that’s more responsive to community needs,” Teval said.
The remodel includes plans for an expanded space for teens, more study rooms and places for community programs.