I started working at the Columbia branch of the Daniel Boone Regional library earlier this year. During the whirlwind of training I’ve learned about a variety of helpful, charming, surprising and useful resources of which I was previously unaware.
Here are a few of my favorites listed in no particular order:
- We have a switchboard! I like to picture a person sitting in front of a board, plugging and unplugging cords to route calls, but instead the switchboard operator has a slick computer interface to route calls. The truly charming part of this is that if you call the library during operating hours, a human will answer the phone and do their best to direct your call to the appropriate destination — a rarity in today’s world of automated customer service and a great demonstration of the library’s focus on people assisting people.
- We also have telephone reference. Also during operating hours a person is available to respond to your questions, renew a book, place a hold, and connect you to the information you’re looking for. We can’t answer every question, but we’ll do our best. All you have to do is call the general library number and your call will be directed accordingly!
- NoveList. We have a long list of online resources and databases that, armed with an internet connection and your library card, you can access from home. Of these, NoveList is by far my favorite. When was the last time you found a new favorite author, quickly devoured every book written by this new person and then felt bereft, with nothing to fill the void. With NoveList you can find books or authors that are similar to your favorites. Try it out. It works!
- Book Oracle. If you are itching for a new book and Novelist didn’t scratch your itch, the Book Oracle might be just what you need. Fill out a short survey about your literary likes and dislikes, and library staff will create a personalized list of books just for you. Again, where else can you get this level of service?
- CreativeBug. This is another online resource and it’s chock full of crafting tutorials and ideas. Whether the pandemic has made you desperate for at home entertainment or you’re a seasoned crafter, there is surely something here that will meet your needs, or wants. I’ll be honest, I like thinking about crafting projects and starting them more than I actually finish them, but it’s an odyssey of the mind if nothing else.
- STEAM kits. My step-kids are both college-aged, but I’ve been meaning to check these out so I can play with them. The kits (STEAM stands for Science Technology Engineering Art and Math) are super fun toys parading as educational activities for kids. There is a robot you can program with your phone, and a caterpillar you can teach to do obstacle courses.
- The people. We live in a time of automated chat-bots and phone-mediated menus. It can be infuriatingly difficult to find a person to answer your questions, even when you’re paying for services. The library is entirely free, and it’s full of staff who want to help connect you with resources to improve your life, and that is priceless.