Large libraries like Fogler have even bigger responsibilities in the
About the Photo:
UMaine's library, built in 1942, is named for alumnus Raymond H.
Fogler, president of the department store chains Montgomery Ward and
W.T. Grant, and an assistant secretary of the Navy during the
Links Related to this
Jim Farrugia is not your average
University of Maine graduate student or library patron. A librarian who
used to work at Johns Hopkins University, he is researching his
dissertation topic on logic-based formalisms for spatial information. To
do that, he depends on UMaine's Fogler Library.
Farrugia, a Ph.D. student in the Department of Spatial Information
Science and Engineering, taps into MathSciNet, a comprehensive
database covering the past 64 years of the world's mathematical
literature, and ScienceDirect, a subscription-only source of research
journals, abstract databases and reference works. He also uses WorldCat,
one of the foremost bibliographic databases, which is licensed by
Fogler. Two alerting services keep track of his research topic and send
him e-mail when the newest pertinent papers are available.
For publications not accessible via Fogler or the Internet, Farrugia
turns to the library's interlibrary loan service. Since arriving on
campus nearly four years ago, he has requested hundreds of books and
dozens of articles related to his dissertation topic. If a book or
publication is in print somewhere in the world, the odds are that the
Fogler interlibrary loan staff can get it for him.
"Electronic access to databases lets me discover what resources exist,"
says Farrugia, who visits Fogler Library an average of five times a
week. "Through it all, librarians help shorten the information retrieval
times for a researcher or student, who then can grapple with the ideas
rather than with the logistics of getting resources."
Raymond H. Fogler Library, Maine's largest research library, operates in
the digital age, providing 24-hour access to resources whenever and
wherever they are needed. In the early years, Fogler focused on building
its campus-based print and microfilm collections, providing services to
support the academic and research priorities of Maine's land-grant
university, and to meet the needs of people throughout the state.
In the past decade, Fogler has taken the leadership role in the
electronic networking of public and private libraries throughout Maine.
The result is strength in numbers. The size of the library available to
every citizen in the state has multiplied exponentially as patrons gain
access to unlimited information resources in Maine and beyond. Fogler
librarians are information specialists rather than generalists, guiding
library users through the ever-changing world of digital information.
The University of Maine's digital library is poised to enter a new phase
when $52.9 million in funding is secured to construct an addition, to
renovate the existing facility and expand the library annex. The
improvements are indicative of the new role large libraries play today.
Besides providing room for expansion and acquisition of collections, the
new facility will be equipped with the latest information technology, as
well as with the classrooms and specialists to teach patrons how to
access resources. There also is a need to improve physical accessibility
for library users.
Libraries are no longer solely about the bricks and mortar for housing
books, but rather the state-of-the-art facilities and services needed to
democratically provide everyone with access to information in the
knowledge economy, says Joyce Rumery, UMaine's interim director of
libraries. "As libraries provide access to more information services and
resources, they enhance the lifelong learning, economic growth, cultural
and entertainment aspects people want in their daily lives."
Historically, Fogler Library has always played a significant role in
Maine because of its location at "the public's university," says Gary
Nichols, Maine's state librarian, headquartered in Augusta.
"The public has always looked to the University of Maine for leadership
in academic achievement and information," he says. "For years, Fogler
Library and the Maine State Library have shared the responsibility to
ensure that citizens in public libraries have access to collections
Fogler Library took the first steps into the digital age with the help
of a bond issue. In the late 1980s, the referendum funded the creation
of URSUS (University Resources Serving Users Statewide), an online
catalog of holdings that included all University of Maine System
libraries, then all libraries in the state, including legislative. And
the cooperation didn't stop there.
Fogler's interlibrary loan service filled over 15,000 requests for
materials held by other libraries that were requested by patrons, and
loaned to other libraries more than 25,000 items from its
1 million holdings in the past year. Fogler also initiated the use of
courier delivery, which is now used by all of the URSUS libraries.
Fogler has helped Maine libraries address one of the greatest challenges
in the digital age — the price tag levied on information. Often the
costs for access to information databases are prohibitive for individual
libraries. Fogler has helped negotiate annual subscriptions to a number
of commercial databases. Purchasing these databases allows them to be
accessible via the Internet to people in Maine.
"Fogler is part of the backbone of the state's library community," says
Barbara McDade, director of the Bangor Public Library. "Its leadership
has meant that even the smallest communities have access to resources."
Per capita, Maine has more small community libraries run by volunteers
than most states do. Nichols calls the library partnership between the
university and the state a "remarkable achievement."
"We share philosophies, equal access and resources," says Nichols. "When
we travel and tell others what we're doing in Maine, they're stunned. In
most states, libraries develop independent systems, but we're integrated
into one, and that's pretty rare. Our scale — the number of libraries
and open attitude of sharing by the leadership — works well for us."
Some of the first collaboratives among libraries in the United States
date to the late 1960s, and most were in the Midwest. Elaine Albright's
first job at the University of Illinois was to serve two cooperating
libraries by tapping the resources of what was then the largest state
university library in the country.
"The smaller libraries knew they needed the resources and couldn't
afford them," says Albright, Fogler's long-time director of libraries
who ushered in URSUS and other digital innovations before retiring in
2003. "I started my career thinking clients' use of other libraries was
very remote. Then I went to work for one of the first libraries in the
country to work in partnership with others."
In those budding years of library automation and partnership, Albright
was the human equivalent of today's computer search engine, researching
the answers to queries and filling publication requests from other
libraries. For eight years, she worked as part of the state-funded
ILLINET, Illinois Information Network, gaining first-hand knowledge of
the logistics and value of resource sharing between libraries. Before
returning to her home state, Albright directed a multi-library
cooperative in Illinois serving 513,000 people in five counties.
"The state began to realize economic development benefits. The
information access also allowed people to stay in their rural
communities. While moderately state-funded at first, ILLINET grew into a
model program with significant funding from the legislature," she says.
Having spent 17 years witnessing the empowerment of a rural state
through its technologically linked libraries, Albright was prepared to
sell the model to Maine. Her goal when she took the helm at Fogler in
1983 was to make the largest library in the state a service organization
for more than just the campus.
In a recent survey commissioned by the University of Maine on the
priorities of prospective students in New England, 89 percent of the
respondents said that a library ranked among the top nationally is very
important when considering college options.
Large libraries like Fogler have become sophisticated information
centers for their states, directly affecting education and lifelong
learning, economic development and quality of life. These libraries are
important repositories of research and historical resources, and despite
the technology, must operate in both the traditional and digital models
"A common perception is that the more a library is digitized, the less
room it needs," Nichols says. "While it makes sense to have research
resources online and fragile historical materials digitized, we still
have a tremendous amount in print, and will have for 100 years."
Fogler Library's collections include more than 2 million government documents and 1.4 million microform pieces. As a federal document
depository, Fogler Library provides government information to Maine,
Vermont and New Hampshire. The library is a Patent and Trademark
Depository, and home to a nationally recognized Canadian Studies
collection. Also found in the library are such valuable collections as
the William S. Cohen Papers, the manuscript collection of Stephen King,
and Maine-related archives, including those extensively documenting the
state's forestry and agricultural history.
The library's annex holds most of the special collections, almost a
third of the government documents, and portions of the bound journals
and the circulating collections.
While more library patrons than ever before are accessing information
electronically, just as many know the value of opening books or resource
materials. Bangor Public Library is a case in point.
Before its $9 million expansion and renovation in 1998, Bangor Public
Library had closed stacks and minimal electronic information resources.
With the improvements, which included open stacks and new technology,
circulation has increased 50 percent annually for the past six years.
"Technology is an enhancement to books," McDade says. "We're still early
enough in the digital age that we need something permanent or we'll lose
the knowledge we've gained."
In the past year, focus groups and discussions on campus have centered
on plans for an expanded Fogler Library. Students and other users cite
the need for group study areas and more seating, a portion of the
library open 24 hours, and a library instructional facility. Faculty
concerns include the library's static annual budget, which has caused
cuts in staff, technology upgrades and acquisitions, especially in
professional journals and monographs.
Public librarians call for Fogler to be the "last copy" center for the
state — a repository of books or bound volumes within Maine's library
network. Here, "last copies" would be held for access by any library in
the state, freeing space in those smaller community libraries.
"When any library in the state expands, it shows the importance of
libraries and it helps all of us in the state. If Fogler could expand
and get more staff," McDade says, "it could only help Maine's library
community with its resources and expertise."
by Margaret Nagle
for more stories from this issue of UMaine Today Magazine.