As we all continue to practice social distancing, people are seeking out new and creative ways to maintain human contact. In the past few weeks alone, I’ve participated in a Zoom seder, competed in a virtual pub quiz, and sang my heart out in an online karaoke session. (Unfortunately, doing karaoke from the comfort of my couch hasn’t made me sound any better.)
We at the library miss talking to all our patrons. So we’ve been developing ways for people to engage with us virtually.
The first of these is our new chat service, which you can access via the pop-up window located on every page of the library website. Simply click on the speech bubble icon, type in your message, and one of our staff will respond as soon as they are available. Using the chat interface, they can provide you with text answers, helpful links, images, and even share their screen to provide library service.
Since our chat service launched in mid-March, we’ve had nearly 2000 interactions with the public. Some of the most popular topics include:
- Account Services: While everyone is staying safe at home, we want the question of library fines or expired accounts to be the last on everyone’s mind. We’ve waived all overdues, extended cards, and made it easier for teens and adults to register for a card virtually.
- Reader’s Services: Whether you’re looking for an eBook, streaming video, or simply raiding your bookshelves at home, we can help you decide what to check out next.
- Genealogy: A lot of people are using this time to dive into their family history. CLP staff can help you sort through local records, and provide remote access to Ancestry – something you normally have to visit the library to use.
- Business Assistance and Career Services: If your job has been impacted by COVID-19, we can help you find resources, locate public aid organizations, or brush up on your resume. Send us a chat request, and we’ll set up time for a 1-on-1 appointment.
- Civic Engagement: In addition to providing updates on the latest news from the state, county, and city, we can help you understand how to register for a mail-in ballot or learn about the 2020 Census.
Chat service is currently available Monday through Thursday, 10 am – 7 pm, and Friday through Sunday, 10 am – 5 pm. We look forward to talking with you – and unveiling other ways to provide virtual access to the Library’s information experts.