So here we are in this brave new world. The library is sort of open; we’re doing what’s called “contactless delivery” (can’t call it “curbside” because we don’t really have a curb people can pull up to), which means that you can call in for items, and if we have the item on our shelves here, we put it on hold, set up an appointment for you to come and get it, check it out to you and then you come at the scheduled time and take the bag with your items. Yes, it’s a bit cumbersome, and yes, we’re all getting used to this business, and yes, we’re doing this to keep all of us, staff and patrons, as safe as we can, but (you knew there would be a but, didn’t you?) it can be difficult to work from the patron’s side of things.
Some people are really organized; they know who their authors are and when their authors are coming out with new books. They put the books on hold as soon as they can, and when the books come out, their copy is waiting for them.
Many people, though, don’t necessarily know what they want. That’s the reason we have browsing in libraries, and set up displays to help people see what’s new or what’s interesting that they might not have known about. These people are having a hard time of it, since you can’t really browse our shelves and pick up that intriguing new book that you wouldn’t have heard of but that strikes you when you see the cover or read the description on the flap. How can you get the books you want if you can’t come in and browse?
Well, one thing you could do is wait. This contactless pickup phase isn’t going to last forever, and eventually we will be open again for patrons to come in and browse (with some restrictions, of course).
But if you’ve been waiting too long already for a real, physical book, you still have other options.
Let’s say you have a favorite author. The obvious thing you can do is go online and see if that author has something new coming out (if you can’t go online, you can do this by calling and asking a librarian). If your author is someone prolific (hi, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Danielle Steel, Stuart Woods!), you’ll probably find something new you can ask your library for.
If your author isn’t as prolific, maybe it’s time to find other authors who are like your author. You can do that through Amazon or Barnes and Noble, both of which have “people who have bought this also bought . . .” lists, or you could go through the Westchester Library Association’s website. It’s a little complicated but pretty cool: go to www.westchesterlibraries.org, check out the tab marked “listen, read and watch” and go down to NoveList Plus. There you can type your author’s name in the search box, and when a list of their books comes up, you can find “Title Read-alikes” or “Author Read-alikes”. Click on one of them and you’ll get a list of suggested books and/or authors who are similar to the one you’ve been reading.
Or maybe you don’t have a particular author in mind. Maybe you’re more interested in a genre. You can search in the system’s catalog by going to the “Account/Catalog” tab on the library system website, and searching under “subject” rather than “keyword” or “title” or “author” (of course, you could use any of those categories as well). To make it easier to figure out what you can actually get from your library right now, you could change the search category from “Westchester Library System” to your own library. Your search will give you a list of all the books in that category (science fiction, romance, history) at your library, and then you can place the holds directly from that screen. Or you could call the library and place holds that way.
NovelList will also give you, on the home page, categories of books that are organized by genres, so you can see what’s out there in a particular genre, and, when you drill down, you can see if our system has the book and if your library has a copy. You could easily get lost in NoveList, finding new books and authors.
Or, if all else fails, you can call your library and ask us for recommendations. You can tell the librarian what you’re interested in (“books about the Great Pandemic of 1918” or “books about the Yankees” or “the newest Highlander romances”, for instance), and we’ll be able to find something for you, or at least we’ll try our best.
So give us a try. Even if you can’t browse as you used to, you can still find books to read and get your hands on some physical books, and we’ll be happy to help any way we can. And remember, we will be slowly phasing our way back to normal library services, so hang in there with us.