Since customers can’t enter Sno-Isle Libraries community libraries to browse the shelves, staff will do the next best thing.
Pick materials for customers.
“Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we’ve had to change the way we serve our communities,” said Lake Stevens Library Manager Lindsay Hanson. “Customers just can’t come in to browse in-person or ask staff for recommendations.”
Customers can browse titles online now, but they need internet access and search the BiblioCommons catalog and place items on hold. “To provide equitable access to library resources, we had to create a process to help customers without digital literacy skills or the means to navigate our online catalog,” said Mukilteo Library Assistant Manager Mamie Alsdurf. “It’s a demonstrated customer need.”
To fill that need, Sno-Isle Libraries has launched two new contact-free services: Quick Picks and Library Picks.
Quick Picks is a casual, on-demand library service to help customers find items they would have found when they could browse shelves themselves.
For example, a customer who picks up holds or stops by a community library can ask for an assortment of books, DVDs or audiobooks. A staff member will select five to 10 suitable items off the shelf that align generally with what the customer wants.
“If a customer decides they don’t like their Quick Pick items, they can just return them and we can try again, or they can use our new Library Picks service and receive more precise selections,” said Camano Island Library Manager Kelli Bragg.
Library Picks uses an online form that the customer submits. Customers can select the type of materials they’re looking for, book and DVD genres, and list what sorts of books or movies they’ve enjoyed — or not — in the past. The customer’s completed form goes to the reference desk of the library where they want to pick up their holds.
“Library Picks is a contact-free version of the same service that our customers would receive if they were in the branch speaking to library staff,” Lake Stevens’ Hanson said. “Customers can fill out the form themselves or staff can help the customer fill out the form over the phone.”
Library Picks will offer physical materials (books, DVDs, audiobooks) and digital items. Turnaround time is 48 hours for items on a shelf at a specified branch, or one week for materials available throughout the library district.
Reference staff will place holds on five physical items that meet the customer’s request, and the customer will receive the items through the standard contact-free holds service procedures.
For digital requests, customers will receive a list of five titles they can check out or place on hold. Sno-Isle Libraries staff is unable to place holds on digital items for customers.