The University of Wisconsin-Baraboo/Sauk County and Baraboo Public Library announced a new collaboration Monday that will give patrons borrowing access to a wider variety of materials than ever before.

The T.N. Savides Library and Baraboo library, part of the South Central Library System, are piloting a program to give cardholders borrowing privileges for both locations and their respective library systems with a single, integrated library card.

UW-Baraboo/Sauk County Library Director Marc Boucher said the university’s library, part of the University of Wisconsin Colleges’ library system, has long offered cards to community borrowers, but the chance to do so with a single library card that also works at the public library is something unique.

Cardholders’ borrowing privileges will extend to the libraries of the other two-year campuses and the 53 South Central member libraries. Users cannot request materials from the system’s four-year campuses.

Currently, the two pilot libraries are the only locations at which users can register for these privileges.

Baraboo Public Library staff members have been asking new card recipients if they want to add university borrowing privileges to their cards.

“The coolest thing about this is that it really shows cooperation between the two types of libraries,” Boucher said.

The university library has about 42,000 volumes, and the public library has approximately 78,000 volumes. The collections really complement each other, Boucher and Baraboo Public Library Director Meg Allen said.

The university’s library excels in nonfiction, academic materials, foreign films and world music, Boucher said, and the public library has a wide selection of current fiction and popular materials, plus online access to numerous electronic and audio books.

The new program will not give community borrowers remote access to the university’s research databases, but patrons can use walk-up stations in the library, Boucher said.

Allen said that due to budget concerns, the public library recently had to drop its database subscriptions, so the sharing helps both libraries offer useful services and resources to patrons.

Libraries are all about providing access to useful materials, Allen said. “Let’s share it.”

The program relies on existing technology and systems and has cost very little to implement, the directors said.

In the works for about six months, the recent collaboration also provides an opportunity for better customer service, said Cate Booth, associate academic librarian at the university. Patrons who are looking for materials that might be available at the public library can be referred and set up with a new card right away, and vice versa, she said.

“Just by asking people if they want this card gives us a chance to talk about your library,” Allen said to Boucher.

The two libraries also have enjoyed increased programming collaboration over the past few years, Boucher said.

Without any advertising at all, the libraries already have registered a dozen or so users for the integrated card. Registration on a new or existing library card takes only a few minutes.

“Baraboo is very willing to try new things and expand their services,” Boucher said.

The libraries have been asked to present on the project at a library consortium meeting in the Fox Valley in May. They hope more libraries statewide will be interested in the model.

“It really makes sharing all of our resources that much easier,” Boucher said of the new program.

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