The Library’s Virtual Branch
Today I attended a (virtual) training session which encouraged me to consider our website as our library’s Virtual Branch Library. It’s not a new concept, but I was offered some clear guidance regarding what changes might be made to turn our website into a more useful and inviting virtual branch.
The presenter recognized that some of us have some technological limitations. She said, “I realize some of you don’t have a dedicated IT staff at your library. A volunteer from down the street may have put your website together.” Well, in reality, a previous Library Director made this website, and I’m the one trying to maintain it, so I don’t even have the “guy down the street” to turn to for a free website overhaul.
I’ve made one change right away. I’ve added a direct link on our homepage to “Chat with a Librarian.” I’ll tell you right away that you won’t be chatting with one of my staff if you use this service. However, it does give you the opportunity to chat with a real, live, individual librarian to help you find answers to questions. Now, we like to promote tutor.com for students to get homework help, but that is primarily focused on STEM subject matter, and has some hour limitations for individual chat. “Chat with a Librarian” is available 24/7 to answer your general questions. Say it’s two in the morning, and you’re trying to get your history term paper done for the next day. “Chat with a Librarian” may be able to help you with that last piece of research where you’re stuck.
As time goes on, I’ll be making more changes to our website. I’m planning some special “displays” of POWER Library electronic resources on our website. You may be surprised at how much useful information is available for use at your fingertips from home (or wherever you have access to the internet) 24/7/365.
The Library Lady
This project is made possible in part by Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA) funds from the U.S. Institute Museum and Library Services and through Library Access Funds administered by the Office of the Commonwealth Libraries, Department of Education, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, and Tom Wolf, Governor.