Searching the catalog:
Not only can you search the BFL catalog, but the catalogs of all the libraries in the Minerva system, the University of Maine System libraries, the Community College and Technical College library systems and Bowdoin, Bates and Colby College libraries are all available to you from home.
Start with the Minerva catalog by clicking on "Library Catalog" on the BFL homepage (belfastlibrary.org). If you want to search only the BFL collection, you can limit your search by selecting it from the drop down menu under "select library" but you might want to search the whole Minerva Catalog because in a later section, I'll tell you how you can request items not available at BFL from other libraries. If you still don't find what you are looking for, there's one more place to look. If the book, video, audiobook, music cd, or magazine that you are looking for isn't available in Minerva try looking in statewide library catalog by clicking on the "Search MaineCat" button on the search screen.
View your own patron record:
While looking at the search screen in Minerva, click on the "Patron Record" button in the tool bar below the entry box. You will be prompted for your name (last name will do) and barcode number (no spaces) and then taken to a patron record screen. From here you can look at the items you have checked out, any fines you might owe, and any books that you have on hold. If you have items that are due to be returned and you need more time, you can request a renewal from here. Click on "Items Currently Checked Out" to get the list. You can click the button that says "Renew all" and the system will renew anything that is renewable, or you can select items to renew. Items borrowed from this library can be renewed 3 times, while those from other libraries can only be renewed once.
Request from other libraries:
This process has become so quick and easy that we are borrowing and lending hundreds of items each week for Maine library patrons. This option makes many more items available to you than we can afford to provide and we hope you will take advantage of it. We receive daily deliveries so most items can be here in a few days. Once you have found an item that you want either in Minerva or MaineCat, and you note that the item status is "available" click on the "request this item" button or link, fill out the requested information - last name and barcode only for Minerva items, home library, last name and barcode for MaineCat items - and submit your request. If you find that the item you want is in Minerva, but is checked out, you can still request it and you will be added to the list of holds for that item. When one becomes available, it will be sent here for you. MaineCat is a little less flexible. It won't let you request items that are also in Minerva libraries and it won't let you request items that are already checked out - you have to wait for them to be available.
That's it for now. Take a look at these online services when you get a chance, and check back here for more. In Part II, I'll tell you about Marvel and some other resources that you can access from home.