Jane, a senior at a highly ranked liberal arts college, expected this reaction. Gripping her phone and trying to keep her trembling chin from showing in her voice, Jane tried to explain why she couldn’t possibly come home. She knew her Mom would be disappointed that she couldn’t come home for the two week spring break, but she had to finish a research paper due after the break. If she didn’t finish the paper and get at least a passing grade, she might not be able to graduate in the spring, and then graduate school would be on the line.
Jane’s Mom suggested she could research the paper at the Thomas Memorial Library. Jane had a pit in her stomach –she was pretty sure the small Thomas Memorial Library wouldn’t have the research books and journal articles she needed for her paper. Images of what would happen if she couldn’t finish the paper flashed through her mind. Jane was torn between visiting her family and friends and her need to finish the paper. Finally, Jane agreed to come home. She crossed her fingers, hoping she hadn’t made a bad decision!
On her first day home, Jane went to the Library to do a literature search for the journal articles and books on her topic. After four hours, she came up with very little she could access through the Thomas Memorial Library. She had even checked the interlibrary loan system (MaineCat) with its access to over 6 million library items from over 80 libraries, including public libraries, the University of Maine, Bates, Bowdoin, and Colby libraries, but she had no luck and was pretty discouraged.
As Jane was about to leave, Kyle Neugebauer, the library director, asked if she had been able to find everything she needed. “No, but I didn’t really expect to,” Jane replied, dejectedly. After a little discussion, Kyle offered to see what he could get her via a special interlibrary loan system with access to more materials in other states.
In three days, Jane got an email from Kyle that her books had arrived from an out-of-state university.
While Jane had to spend a lot of time on her research paper during the remainder of the break, she also got a chance to see high school friends and family. Both Jane and her parents were thrilled she came home and was able to complete her paper, thanks to the Library.
This story illustrates one way that the library helps to strengthen communities, in this case both within Jane’s family and with Jane’s high school friends. In addition, it is an example of how the librarians help individuals find materials. For example, on average in 2016, TML librarians helped patrons locate difficult to find materials over 550 times a month! While most of us are not scrambling to complete term papers, it is reassuring to know we can access almost any material that we want from almost anywhere in the world! The library helped Jane with her college project and allowed her to visit families and friends.
George Morse, a member of the Thomas Memorial Library Foundations story team, authored this true story after interviewing Jane’s mother who completed an online survey about the story. While this is a true story, Jane’s Mom asked that we use a made-up name to protect her daughter’s privacy.