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Hartland Library Extends Reach Worldwide Tech Cuts Costs, Refreshes Offering

Bangor Daily News (Newspaper) - 10/27/2009 by Christopher Cousins
HARTLAND, Maine — John Clark often says he runs Hartland Public Library more like a hardware store than a library.

“At a hardware store, you don’t want to find a predominance of washers that fit faucets from 10 years ago,” said Clark. “That’s my theory with books.”

In addition to his hardware store theory, Clark has another scheme at work: swap shop.

“I can turn a paperback into an audio book,” said the bearded, bespectacled librarian who’s more likely than not to throw a well-intentioned barb at incoming patrons. “I ship books all over the world.”

And from all over the world, he receives as well.

He toted Friday’s receipts, each clad in its own postal packaging, in a plastic shopping bag: An Ethan Hawke movie, audio books by Garrison Keillor, Ted Dekker and Dave Luckett, and books by Lori Foster and Clinton McKinzie.

“This cost $36.95,” said Clark, glancing at the back of Keillor’s 2007 audio book called “Pontoon.” “I traded two books for this.”

Chances are, those two books were duplicates of what’s on the Hartland library’s shelves. Or maybe Clark decided there wouldn’t be enough interest from patrons, vis-a-vis his hardware store theory.

On the same day, Clark had packaged seven books to ship out — paying all the postage personally — though he said both the incoming and outgoing stacks were smaller than average. Web sites make it possible. Clark has 800 books listed on www.bookmooch.com, 1,500 on www.swaptree.com and 2,500 on www.paperbackswap.com. He keeps a wish list of items he’s looking for, as do librarians and individuals all over the world. Computers do the matching.