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Fishing for Books and Finding Cats

com-cat-massachusetts-interlibrary-loan-logoWhen my husband Gerry was a boy, he loved to fish the lakes and rivers in and about his Framingham hometown. When he was younger, his mother accompanied him. When he was older, he rode his bike to Lake Cochituate with his rod and reel and flirted with the trout stocked by the Department of Fishery and Game. He remembers the dump trucks that released squirmy, tagged fish near the Carling Black Label plant near Route 9.

At the end of his adventures, Gerry brought fresh trout home, and after filleting them, his mother helped him prepare them for dinner, satisfying his family’s taste and appetite.

Perhaps because fishing intimately interacted with nature, Gerry began to fancy birds – the Great Blues that gravitate to the waters all over New England, and shorebirds he met on his Cape Cod family trips each summer. Later, he nurtured bluebirds in their wooden houses in his backyards.

Out of high school and starting college, Gerry mimicked his father’s love for golf. That first summer, he began sculpting the lawns and greens of the nearby Sandy Burr Country Club in Wayland, having time after work for a round or two on the fairways. This mutual passion with his father led to many of his friendships based on that same craving for the course, the club, and the ball. Many of Gerry’s long-time friends are those who bonded with him, playing golf in the company he has worked with for nearly 50 years. His annual late-spring golf weekend “down Cape” just celebrated its 42nd year.

Years later, Gerry became a gardener. And a colored-pencil artist. And a tie-flying hobbyist, and a home-brewer. Most recently, he’s a beekeeper, a wine connoisseur, a Boxer-lover (the dog breed), and stone-wall builder. Our kids chuckle because Gerry is so easy to please with gifts. There are endless heavy-bottomed whiskey glasses, bird carvings, local brews, and assorted jars of honey for Gerry’s passions.

And then there are books. Gerry’s collections of books are arranged by subject in our home library (which doubles as a family room). When we met over 12 years ago, he declared that he wanted to become a beekeeper. In no time, piles of books I found in the library network on beekeeping fell over on his nightstand. Gerry loves to have his favorite books at home where he can access them, and many books become his favorites. (Although The Queen Must Die! and Other Affairs of Bees and Men, written in 1985 by William Longgood is still his most beloved on beekeeping.)

It’s no surprise that Gerry found his relationship with a librarian was tolerably symbiotic. One book lover supplying another book lover’s habit is mutually beneficial!

I share much of my day-to-day professional work with Gerry. He’s up on the lingo and acronyms of librarianship and understands our strange language that includes strange meanings for the terms “weeding,” “circulation” and “collection development.”

I was surprised, then, when Gerry stumbled upon ComCat (the Commonwealth’s library catalog), and he had never noticed it before. For years, Gerry’s been very adept at finding books at other libraries and having them delivered to his home library. He is sure to tell me when one of his books from another library has arrived in Norwood and “would I check it out and bring it home?”

But what was this ComCat?

ComCat arrived back on the scene a few years ago, rising like a phoenix from the first iteration called the Massachusetts Virtual Catalog. The Virtual Catalog was conceived, created and designed with funding from the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners in the 1990s in the hope that all Massachusetts residents would have access to a “virtual wealth” of materials. The Minuteman Library Network joined the Virtual Catalog in 2000 – and that is when Morrill Memorial Library patrons had access to books and materials beyond the metroplex.

A bigger and better-automated system extended the search even further almost three years ago in the Commonwealth Catalog – or ComCat. Minuteman was the first network that had accessibility when ComCat went live in March 2015.

This Commonwealth Catalog now includes all of the library network catalogs in Massachusetts, including the Minuteman Library Network, Old Colony Library Network, the Metro Boston Library Network, MassCat (a small network serving small and unique libraries in Massachusetts) and the six other networks across the state. The advantage of ComCat is that library patrons can find and request materials from these other regions and have them delivered to their home library. There is no need to call the library or a reference librarian when you find something in ComCat. ComCat has a “modern and easy-to-use interface, including book jacket images and improved search options.” ComCat can be accessed through the Minuteman Library app and the online catalog.

WorldCat is a worldwide catalog and another accessible to patrons who may search the catalog to find an item, however, you must call the library and request the material through one of our librarians. There is a mailing cost associated with the delivery of these items, and librarians will always choose a more local option first.

The day that Gerry discovered ComCat, he was searching for books on custom painting his own bass fishing lures. The one book he found, Making Wooden Fish Lures: Carving and Painting Techniques That Really Catch Fish!, owned by the Newton Free Library was out – of course. He then clicked on the ComCat link (above on the right on the catalog search page) and found a school of books about fishing lures: Fishing With Artificial Lures by Dick Sternberg owned (appropriately) by one of the SAILS (Southern MA) and one of the CLAMS (Cape and Islands) libraries and Making Wooden Fishing Lures by Rich Rousseau.

To be sure, our library will be watching for more books on fishing, both flies and lures. In the meantime, Gerry and Norwood’s patrons alike have a world of books at their fingertips.

Charlotte Canelli is the Director of the Morrill Memorial Library in Norwood, MA. Look for her article in the January 17, 2019 edition of the Norwood Transcript.


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