OREM — Smaller cities have a difficult time significantly expanding their library collections, but for four north Utah County cities more books, movies, magazines and newspapers will be available to patrons.

American Fork, Eagle Mountain, Lehi and Pleasant Grove will start an interlibrary loan of sorts today. The reciprocal-borrowing program will allow all residents to have access to more material. Residents of American Fork, Lehi and Pleasant Grove can participate in the system free.

Eagle Mountain residents will have to pay a $40 fee because the city's collection is smaller than those of the other participating cities, said Linda Peterson, Eagle Mountain spokeswoman.

Residents who live outside any of the four cities can also participate by paying a $70 fee.

Several years ago, Utah County cities met to discuss a countywide library. Although those discussions didn't get anywhere, the directors of the four libraries working together decided to see what they could do about a smaller borrowing system, said April Harrison, Pleasant Grove library director.

The directors presented the plan to each of the city councils several months ago, and they all accepted the interlocal agreement, she said.

"I'm very excited that it's finally going to happen," she said. "We have been working on it for at least two years."

She added that she's received quite a bit of interest from residents. A problem with the software postponed the beginning of the program, she said.

Harrison said the biggest advantage will be a wider selection for thousands more people.

"I am a big advocate of information for all," she said. "I think the big advantage for every citizen ... is that it opens a greater scope of their knowledge, a greater scope of their information and even enjoyment."

She added: "I think it opens all kinds of possibilities to improve everybody's lives. It's one of my goals to make sure that every citizen has the advantage of the library."

Eagle Mountain Mayor Heather Jackson said the city's librarian, Michele Graves, has worked hard to increase the city's collection on a limited budget. However, the new exchange program will give the city's residents broader choices.

"We're looking forward to be able to offer more than what the library has been able to," she said.

She said she still believes it would be beneficial to have a countywide program in which all residents could participate.


E-mail: csmith@desnews.com