Extending Non-Traditional Services to Patrons
I work in a public library, so patrons expect to check out books, music, DVDs and periodicals as part of our regular service. Because we have been fortunate enough to have good funding, our residents are also able to download e-books, audio e-books & e-videos to their personal devices. They can borrow CD books , Play-aways, video games in four different formats, CD-ROMs for computers, and now even feature films on blue ray. All of these materials fit into our Library Mission Statement, “to help community residents meet their personal, educational, and professional information needs.”
In addition to the services I’ve already mentioned, there are three special collections that I would label “non-traditional.” Each is an example of librarians thinking out-of-the-box in extending new services to our community.
Magnifiers: The Library displays and loans over forty magnifiers of various sizes and strengths. Patrons with vision problems are thrilled to try Library magnifiers to see which style best addresses their needs before making an expensive purchase.
Kill-A-Watts: The second non-traditional collection is composed of a number of Kill A Watt units. This device is used to audit the energy use in home or office. Patrons check them out for a week and measure the energy efficiency of their appliances.
Nintendo DS Systems with Brain Age Software: The last collection is one I established sixteen months ago. I heard a local commentator on the radio telling listeners how using Brain Age on an Nintendo DS had increased his memory skills. After doing a bit of research, I came to the conclusion that there was merit in the use of electronic games for mental exercise, especially for senior citizens. Along with this conclusion, came the realization that these systems were expensive enough that patrons would want to try them before making a purchase. This collection has been wildly successful! We have five “packages” patrons can check out for a week. Included in the case are the DS system, the Brain Age cartridge and the power cord. Each of these systems has circulated a minimum of 58 times in just 16 months. Because they are constantly in circulation, we are now adding three more packages. I realize this won’t meet the full demand, but it certainly will help.
Patrons are always delighted to find new items when they visit our Library, and they respond by supporting our Library both financially and by their very presence at our programming and special events. Our annual circulation exceeded one million for the past two years. Not bad for a community of just over 38,000 people, huh! These three non-traditional services are just another way our Library is fulfilling its Mission Statement to our community.