Alaskans are great at sharing resources and there’s no better demonstration of this than the Joint Library Catalog. As of May 2018, over 85 public, university, school and special libraries in Alaska all share the same catalog and materials. That’s 92% of libraries in Alaska!
The benefits of this arrangement are huge. Library users get access to over 3.2 million library materials located all over the state. When searching the Joint Library Catalog either through Anchorage Public Library’s website, or another participating library, you can see results and request materials from any participating library, simply by putting the desired item on hold. The item will arrive at your local library for you to check out. When finished, return it to your local library to be checked in and sent back to the lending library. Keep in mind that the loan period is set by the lending library, so some items may have different due dates depending on where they came from. There are also some materials that are only available for local use and cannot be sent to other communities.
Another bonus is the significant cost savings for every participating library. Smaller libraries get access to full service library software and services that would otherwise be financially out of reach, while larger libraries are able to share some of the costs associated with operating such a system. Personnel costs are also reduced through centralization of many tasks that would be duplicated if each library had to maintain their own catalog.