Maine Virtual Library: Collaboration At Its Best

(from Maine Townsman, May 2003)
by Linda Lord, Director of Library Development, Maine State Library

The primary mission of the Maine State Library is to ensure quality library service and equitable access to information and materials for every Maine citizen.  For many years Maine libraries have demonstrated statewide collaboration, support, and regionalization, which is now being recognized as a necessary part of Maine’s successful economic future.


       An example of this collaboration and regionalization is shown in Maine’s Virtual Library, a cooperative project of the University of Maine System and the Maine State Library, with critical support from the Maine State Legislature.  The Virtual Library provides Maine libraries with free access to electronic resources that otherwise could not be accessed without paying a large cost for subscription — costs that would be well beyond the reach of any individual library.  These resources, which have been selected to meet the needs of everyone from the youngest students to sophisticated researchers, are not only available at any library, but may be accessed by Maine citizens from home.


       What is the Virtual Library and why would anyone ever need it?  Visit  to access a searchable collection of magazines, newspapers, journals, dictionaries, encyclopedias (including the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Oxford English Dictionary) and images that can be obtained electronically via the Internet.  Funded by a variety of sources including the Maine State Legislature, the Maine State Library and the University of Maine system, these resources are available through a cooperative statewide licensing agreement negotiated by the Maine State Library and the University of Maine System.  This site, licensed specifically for Maine citizens, provides access to almost 10 million articles from more than 12,000 journals, magazines and newspapers.  Any computer with Internet connectivity can access the site, which means you can locate information from your local library, your town or city office and your home. 


       To access the Virtual Library from home, follow these simple steps:


       • Go to this website:

       If you are accessing the databases remotely (away from the library), you will be prompted to enter your

       — name

       — name of your local library

       — zip code


       • Select a database to search by clicking on its name, or to search many databases at once click on the name EBSCOHost Database Collection and check off which databases you would like to search

       • Enter your search terms. 


       The following sites may be of particular interest and use to town and city officials (If you click on the white capital letter “I” that appears in front of each database name, you’ll get a description of what is indexed in that particular database).


       Academic Search Premier. Provides full text for more than 3,300 journals covering the social sciences, humanities, general science, multi-cultural studies, education, engineering and much more.  The Economist, Christian Science Monitor, American Heritage, Harvard Business Review, Newsweek and Time are among the periodicals in Academic Search Premier.  Includes 7625 articles on tourist trade; 1995 articles on casinos; and 2347 articles on wetlands.


       Business Source Premier.  Provides full text for nearly 2,500 journals covering business management, economics, finance, banking, accounting and similar subjects.


       Regional Business News.  This full text newswire database incorporates business wires from all over the world including A&G information, Africa News Service, Inter Press Service, Resource News International, South American Business, M2 Communications, PR Newswire, Canadian Corporate News, and others.  This resource contains information from each of these wire services as reported during the past month.


       MasterFILE Premier.  Includes text for over 1,900 periodicals covering nearly all subjects including general reference, business and health.


       Newspaper Source.  This resource includes full text for regional U.S. newspapers, international newspapers, newswires, newspaper columns and other sources.  It also provides access to transcripts from radio and television shows such as “The O’Reilly Factor” or NPR’s “All Things Considered.”


       What are the major advantages to statewide purchase, licensing and support for these electronic resources?


       • The people of Maine need access to the widest range of information possible, regardless of geographic location.  Some libraries can only afford a few periodical subscriptions.  Through the Maine Virtual Library, people in every area of the state have access to thousands of magazines and journals.


       • Maine was the first state to link all schools and libraries to the Internet in 1996.  As training, bandwidth and access to hardware have increased, schools and libraries have greater access to resources outside their walls. Access to valid, reliable information is a critical component of the electronic networking seen in Maine over the past seven years.  Maine’s Virtual Library provides reliable information from sources that have been proven reliable over the years.


       • Statewide purchasing and licensing is extremely cost effective.  The Maine State Library and the University of Maine can obtain substantial statewide discounts over prices offered individual schools and public libraries.


       • These resources are available seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day.


       Need help exploring these resources?  Ask at your local school or public library or contact the Maine State Library reference desk at 207-287-5600 or at   The time spent doing this will reap great dividends.  Any general comments or questions may be directed to

Side Bar

Municipal Resources

 City managers and municipal officials may find the ABI Inform Global particularly useful since it includes “Municipal Finance Journal” from 1997 to the present (full-text).

The Vocational & Career Collection Database includes “American City & County” from 1997 to the present.  This publication is described as containing “articles, commentary, personal profiles, legislation, public safety, financial management . . . and news of note for professionals in or dealing with municipal, county, state and federal government”. (Taken from the publications details page for American City & County)  (Contributed by Molly Larson, Bangor Public Library)


Public Safety officers can find current, informative articles from journals like Environmental Engineering, Environmental Health Perspectives, Safety & Health, and Safety Science.  These and other journals are found in Academic Search Premier, one of the free full-text databases provided by the Maine State Library, and the University of Mane System Libraries.   Academic Search Premier contains full-text articles from 3,900 journals, and indexing and abstracts for all 7,780 journals in its collection.  (Contributed by Suzanne Thompson, Portland Public Library)


Working Together for the Public Good

The Bangor Public Library purchases books and periodicals for city's departments, agencies, and organizations, which includes everything from getting the Maine Statutes for the Clerk, Legal, and Police Departments, to buying music for the Bangor Symphony.  For more information, contact Barbara McDade, Director of the Bangor Public Library,


The Old Town Public Library and the Old Town Fire Department have done three programs entitled, “Cooking with the Fire Department.”  The kids plan the meals at the library, buy the supplies, and head for the firehouse. Once there, they learn about safety in the kitchen.  They get to cook the meal and enjoy it along with the members of that particular shift.  The children, ages 7-10, get to know the firefighters and EMTs up close and personal.  For more information, contact Valerie Osborne, director of Old Town Public Library,


The Topsham Public Library co-sponsors an annual Fishing Derby, along with the Topsham Parks & Recreation, Public Works Departments, and the Merrymeeting Bay Chapter of Trout Unlimited.  This program compliments the library’s unique Fishing Tackle Loaner Program, which is funding by a New Century Community Grant, the Maine Department of Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and L. L. Bean.  For more information, contact Linda Prybylo, Director of the Topsham Public Library,


For many summers the Orono Public Library and the Orono Parks and Recreation Department have joined forces to include literacy in the summer “Day Rec.” program for children in grades 1-6.  Each summer the library offers a variety of literature-based programs for children of all ages.  The staff of the recreation department makes sure tot include these programs in their weekly schedules.  This helps the recreation department offer a diverse program to the participants.  It is also beneficial to the library in that it brings large groups of children to the programs and allows a weekly library visit to children who might not otherwise have the time to come to the library.  For more information contact Laurie Rose, Youth Services Librarian, Orono Public Library,


When Long Island became an independent town in 1993, both the library and the K-5 school became a part of the Town of Long Island.  In addition to providing traditional library services to the town, the library also provides public access computers and Interactive Television to enable distance learning.  In 2000, the town embarked on a the Library/School Expansion project, a cooperative venture among the Town, School, Library, Recreation Department, and island residents which constitutes the largest municipal project undertaken on Long Island in over 50 years.  Once completed, the new Long Island Library will offer expanded computer and ITV services, a large meeting room complete with a stage for musical and dramatic activities, a small meeting room, and archives of the Long Island Historical Society; the library will also serve as the Town’s emergency evacuation center.  Progress of the project can be followed at


For more information, contact Janet C. Prochazka, Friends of the Long Island Library,


The Wells Public Library collaborates with Town Hall and the Wells-Ogunquit Adult Community Education Department in the “Small Is Beautiful” program.  Town hall provides the names and addresses of residents who have had a new baby, and Adult Education sends out packets to them; included in the packets is the library’s “Congratulations/Welcome Baby” letter, and an invitation to the visit the library and redeem an enclosed coupon.  When families come for their first visit with the coupon, they receive a tour of the library and the children’s room, a library book bag which contains a gift board book for the baby (these two items are funded by the Friends of the Wells Public Library), a book for parents about the importance of reading (funded by the Adult Education Department), and a booklet about the program and library services for children and caregivers.  For more information contact Lorraine Canterbury, Assistant Director/Youth Services Librarian, Wells Public Library,

In addition, many libraries collaborate with other town departments on technology projects, such as the Louis T. Graves Memorial Public Library in Kennebunkport, and the Wells Public Library, and a great number of public libraries collaborate with School Departments to help enhance library services to students.