The Mid-Hudson Library System (MHLS), a cooperative system with sixty-six (66) member libraries, was formed in 1959 to insure the public’s right to free access, facilitate economical resource sharing, and promote professional library service while working in partnerships with the libraries in our service region which encompasses Columbia, Dutchess, Greene, Putnam & Ulster counties in the mid-Hudson Valley.
Our services for members fall into two categories:
- Resource Sharing
All member libraries are automated and agree that all patrons may use all libraries and borrow just about anything from any library. This “patron first” attitude of our members ensures ease of access to library collections and services throughout our 3,000 square mile service area (an area as large as Rhode Island and Delaware combined!) MHLS staff support the automated circulation system, using the Sierra product from Innovative Interfaces Inc., and online catalog [http://midhudsonlibraries.org] We provide delivery services, with vans traveling six days a week facilitating next day delivery of items for less than the cost of a postage stamp per item! We also facilitate interlibrary loans beyond our System borders, provide remote access to shared databases for all patrons, and manage the MHLS Digital Download Center (through OverDrive) to ensure patrons have access to ebooks and downloadable audiobooks.
- Library Development
System staff work to ensure member libraries have the support they need to optimize the governance and management of their libraries. We also focus on assisting libraries address the need for flexible and responsive 21st century facilities and support their ability to obtain sustainable funding. This takes the form of consultations for trustees and directors, a robust continuing education program and a web site with resources, like our Sample Public Library Policies and Development Tips page [http://bit.ly/18CJlI4] and Trustee Resources page [http://midhudson.org/trustee/main.php]
The centerpiece of our success is the working relationship between the System and its member libraries. We promote a partnership approach to shaping services, developing resource sharing policies and to address identified trends and challenges. There is a monthly meeting of member library directors to provide input and four advisory committees made up of directors as well, focusing on resource sharing, continuing education / professional development, marketing, our Central Reference Library program and collection development.
Through this partnership with our members we have created a strong plan of service that is very focused on members’ needs. For example, we have developed a number of nationally recognized programs to assist our libraries in keeping up with the demand for public library service in their communities. Most notable is our Building Your Base and Getting to Yes projects. Both were designed to assist member libraries in building support for the library in their community and ensure stable, sustainable funding for the libraries. Learn more through our Public Library Vote Toolbox http://midhudson.org/vote/ and Building Your Base web site http://midhudson.org/byb/
In November 2013 we welcomed our new MHLS Executive Director, Tom Sloan. Mr. Sloan previously served as manager of library services for the City of Boca Raton, Florida. His prior positions include executive director of the DuPage (IL) Library System, executive director of the Southeast Florida Library Information Network (SEFLIN, Inc.), and director of the State of Delaware’s Division of Libraries. “I am honored to be joining the Mid-Hudson Library System,” said Mr. Sloan upon his start at MHLS. “One of the main lessons I have taken from my years of service as a librarian is cooperation among libraries is essential to providing excellent library services. I look forward to working closely with the Board of Trustees, member libraries, and MHLS staff in advancing library and information services for all.“