Our mission statement is simple:
NOBLE: the technology partner for libraries north of Boston

The North Of Boston Library Exchange (NOBLE) is a cooperative effort of 25 area libraries founded to improve library service through automation. Seventeen public library members, six academic libraries and one special library are members of NOBLE.

NOBLE was the first automated resource sharing network in Massachusetts and the first on the Internet. Since its founding over thirty years ago, NOBLE has cost-effectively improved service to its libraries and their users through technology, in ways not possible at its inception.

Initially facilitating a shared database of library holdings, NOBLE was founded to improve library service by streamlining the identification and sharing of needed library resources among member libraries. In addition to managing and adding value to a shared library automation system, services have grown to include shared electronic resources — online periodical databases, downloadable audiobooks and e-books and a digital library. NOBLE also provides a gateway to other Internet resources and resources provided by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Massachusetts Library System.

NOBLE is governed by its member libraries who approve the annual budget, establish NOBLE policies and elect officers. An Executive Board, comprised of the four officers and five at-large library directors oversees NOBLE operations and our professional staff of librarians and technical staff. NOBLE is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit corporation recognized as a charitable organization by the Massachusetts Attorney General.  We welcome donations to improve our downloadable ebook and audiobook services and other services.

The cooperative nature of NOBLE, coupled with significant grant funding provide technology and services that would be far out of reach for a single library. Working together through NOBLE, our libraries have been able to extend the reach of the library, becoming a 24-hour information source via the Internet.

NOBLE services have grown in recent years as our libraries’ use of technology has grown to better meet the needs of member libraries and their users.

Gateway to Information

Library users are no longer limited to the tens of thousands of works at their particular location. Instead, access is available to over three million items in NOBLE libraries. Likewise, all NOBLE library users enjoy access to an online periodical collection of over 4,000 titles in full text in general and specialized collections, many times larger than any single library’s collection.

A growing collection of downloadable audiobooks, ebooks and magazines is available to enjoy online.

Beyond NOBLE, access is provided to library catalogs and library resources across Massachusetts, and regional, national and international information sources through the World Wide Web. NOBLE provides a gateway to these other information sources.

EBSCO Periodicals Online

NOBLE provides direct access to the EBSCO MasterFile Premier general periodicals database, and the Health Source Consumer Edition, Health Source Nursing/Academic Edition, Business Source Premier, Academic Source Elite and Newspaper Source databases for all members. The periodical databases now offer more than 4,000 periodical titles online in full text. The databases are updated daily, and are available at all member libraries and from homes, schools and businesses around the clock via the Internet with a valid borrower’s card from a NOBLE library here.

EBSCO access is funded by the libraries of NOBLE. Libraries can also license additional databases and services from the EBSCO catalog at a significant discount through NOBLE’s group contract.

Over half a million full-text articles from EBSCO are viewed by NOBLE users annually.

OverDrive: Downloadable ebooks and audiobooks

NOBLE’s OverDrive service provides online access to popular downloadable audiobooks, ebooks and magazines. Over 19,000 ebooks and almost 6,700 audiobooks are available, with 125 in “always available” unlimited user format. Fifty popular magazines are also always available.

NOBLE has partnered with seven other Massachusetts library networks to reciprocally share OverDrive collections, expanding the available items more than fivefold.

Digital Resources

NOBLE is helping our libraries digitize and make available their local history and institutional history legacy on the Web.

Thousands of long-hidden images have been digitized and are available through the NOBLE Digital Heritage website, linked through our catalog, and linked to the statewide Digital Commonwealth project and the national Digital Public Library of America.

Web Catalog of Library Resources

NOBLE’s full-featured Web catalog is available in member libraries and on the Internet at http://catalog.noblenet.org.

Users can search and request library materials directly from home or at the library, and can renew their own books and check their accounts via the Web.

NOBLE’s catalog combines the 3.1 million holdings of our public and academic libraries into one catalog. Our Web catalog also gives users the choice of searching one library, a subset of libraries or the entire database.

Keyword searching expands access to almost any word in the catalog record. Boolean searching, using a combination of search terms, is also available, as is limiting by format (videorecordings, books, etc.) and language.

Commonwealth Catalog

Needed items not available in NOBLE can be directly requested through the Commonwealth Catalog, which links systems like NOBLE throughout Massachusetts into one search and request interface, with materials delivered to your library.

Services to Member Libraries

Library Management System

NOBLE provides a shared, full-functioned Evergreen integrated library management system to assist our member libraries in efficient operation. Circulation transaction tracking, hold and overdue management, cataloging with database maintenance and authority control, software to aid in acquisition of library materials and a system to automate the receipt of magazines, journals and other serials are all part of the integrated system.

Over 3.6 million items are loaned by NOBLE libraries annually.

Resource Sharing

NOBLE was founded by member libraries to foster the sharing of books and other library collections among neighboring libraries through automation 30 years ago.

Currently over 800,000 items are shared among NOBLE libraries annually, through interlibrary transfers and walk-in loans to patrons of other NOBLE libraries. NOBLE’s integrated systems facilitate the requesting and tracking of interlibrary loan materials.

Doctoral research materials to children’s picture books are available via resource sharing among NOBLE libraries, including 2.35 million books, over 100,000 audio recordings and 158,000 videos.

Greater access to materials is also provided through our connection to the statewide Commonwealth Catalog, with many more millions of items from academic and public libraries across the state available for direct request and delivery to any NOBLE library.

Collection Management

NOBLE libraries engage in a continuous program of collection assessment and cooperative collection development, to better meet the needs of the users of all our libraries. Given their mission, constituents and history, each library has particular strengths to contribute to the realm of NOBLE information.

Consulting and Training

NOBLE offers a full-range of training and consulting opportunities to our libraries. Training takes place at NOBLE offices in a fully-equipped training facility, on-site or via teleconference. Training includes the use of our Evergreen integrated system software, our EBSCO databases, Internet resources and local technology.

We are always willing to meet with our member libraries to assist them in providing improved library service and taking greater advantage of the services we provide. Roundtable and other discussion opportunities allow librarians in NOBLE libraries to meet and share information about successful library operations and share expertise to improve library service.

Web Site Hosting

NOBLE hosts the websites of many of our member libraries. We provide automatic linked booklists, monthly statistics and ongoing support to the web sites we host.

PC Support

NOBLE assists our libraries with PC support through discounted group purchases of PCs and software, PC consulting and with an optional onsite PC maintenance program.

Telecommunications and Networks

NOBLE provides connectivity and Internet access to our public libraries and facilitates connectivity with our academic members. NOBLE manages our telecommunications network, which is monitored 24 hours a day.



NOBLE is primarily funded through membership fees and receives significant support through the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners (MBLC).


Capital funding for system upgrades are a joint undertaking of the member libraries of NOBLE and the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners, the state library agency. The Board of Library Commissioners has provided start-up and continuing support through Federal Library Services and Technology Act and state funds. NOBLE libraries have contributed to a capital fund to provide for future technology upgrades as part of the annual assessment.

NOBLE Member Libraries

Public Libraries:

  • Beverly Public Library
  • Peabody Institute Library of Danvers
  • Everett Public Libraries
  • Sawyer Free Library, Gloucester
  • Lynn Public Library
  • Lynnfield Public Library
  • Abbot Public Library, Marblehead
  • Melrose Public Library
  • Peabody Institute Library, Peabody
  • Reading Public Library
  • Revere Public Library
  • Salem Public Library
  • Saugus Public Library
  • Stoneham Public Library
  • Swampscott Public Library
  • Beebe Memorial Library, Wakefield
  • Winthrop Public Library and Museum

Special Library

  • Mass. Board of Library Commissioners Professional Library, Boston

Academic Libraries:

  • Bunker Hill Community College Library, Charlestown
  • Endicott College, Halle Library, Beverly
  • Gordon College, Jenks Library, Wenham
  • Merrimack College, McQuade Library, North Andover
  • Montserrat College of Art, Scott Library, Beverly
  • Phillips Academy, Holmes Library, Andover
  • Salem State University, Berry Library, Salem