Library Pass!

Library Land started by accident but we didn’t realize it had at the time. We were driving out to Mass MoCA - me, Adam and my daughter Z - when Adam said we should see if there were any libraries along that way with free passes. It seemed like a pretty good idea.

Adam began calling libraries and I, as usual, began voicing doubts and offering reasons it wouldn’t work. We would probably need to be from the town, I said, or we might need to return the passes on the way home. As is also usually the case, Adam persevered and the three of us ended up at the Greenfield library.

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As it turns out, if you have a library card in Massachusetts you can get one from any other in the state. To make things even easier, the state is divided up into eight library networks:

  • C/WMars - Central/Western Massachusetts Automated Resource Sharing (what a poetic name!) is in the central and western part of the state.

  • Minuteman - No acronym here, just 40 or 50 libraries mostly west of Boston.

  • MVLC - Merrimack Valley Library Consortium, an acronym, yes, but not a very interesting one, for a band of libraries that hugs up along the New Hampshire border.

  • NOBLE - North of Boston Library Exchange, which runs north from Boston up along the coast to about Cape Ann and south of MVLC.

  • MBLN - Metro Boston Library Network, which is all the libraries in the city of Boston plus Malden plus Chelsea and a bunch of school libraries to boot.

  • OCLN - Old Colony Library Network, which follows the South Shore to near the Cape.

  • SAILS - which has got to be an acronym but damn if I can find it and runs north from Buzzards Bay and is bordered by OCLN to the north and east and Minuteman to the west.

  • CLAMS - I’m thinking they started with the acronym and then shoehorned the meaning into the words: Cape Libraries Automated Material Sharing.

If you have a card for a network you can borrow from any of the towns in the network. How cool is that?

Anyway, we stopped in Greenfield and got our new library cards and the passes and continued heading west. Now if you’ve been to MassMoCA you know how awesome it is and if you’ve never been you really need to go. They say it’s the largest contemporary art museum in the country and while I can’t say that for sure, I can say it’s pretty damn big.

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We got to the museum and the three of us wandered around for a good long time when Adam suddenly realized he’d misplaced the passes. This was serious. We’d just joined the library that morning specifically to borrow the passes and we knew someone else had them reserved for the next day and that we’d look like a bunch of idiots if we lost them like this. At first we thought about calling the library straight away but then - upon reflection - we realized it would be better to come up with a solution before we brought the kind librarians a problem.

“Library pass!” I hollered walking around the museum - and like magic, staff people came running to help. We all looked and looked and retraced our steps but no dice. Those passes were nowhere to be found. It was closing time and we didn’t know what to do.

We went to the front desk and told them our sad story. They were very sympathetic. A helpful woman agreed to write a note explaining the situation and even gave us two passes so the people planning to visit the museum the next day wouldn’t be disappointed.

Relieved, and with our note and passes in hand, we drove back to Greenfield where we were given a hero’s welcome.

From Greenfield to today, we have used libraries as our workplaces, our inspiration and our havens. Libraries are magical and this chance experience helped get the Library Land ball rolling!