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Book A Librarian @ Brooklyn Public Library

Brooklyn Public Library
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Innovation Leader: Lisa Chow, Librarian, bal@brooklynpubliclibrary.org

Problem Statement

 In today’s fast paced world how can the library and librarians continue to be relevant to its patrons? While the library can satisfy patrons’ immediate and superficial informational needs, how can it satisfy the more in-depth needs at a busy reference desk with a short reference interview? How can the library provide quality customer service?

Innovation

Book a Librarian (BAL) is a reference service model in which patrons can schedule one-on-one appointments with a librarian for in depth reference assistance. Librarians work individually with patrons, away from the reference desk. We introduce them to those print and electronic resources best suited to their research needs, as well as discuss effective search strategies and means of identifying credible information sources. BAL allows librarians to provide higher quality reference service while showcasing the library’s databases, staff expertise and other resources. BAL provides the opportunity to highlight librarians’ skill sets and knowledge base beyond the usual directional and ready-reference questions. Patrons in turn are getting information literacy and bibliographic instruction and are being empowered in today’s informational world.

Progress

Since its initial soft launch in September 2009, BAL has had 20 sessions. The soft launch consisted of online marketing through the library’s website and blog with only the option of making appointments through the online form. The BAL webpage on the library website has been visited 1,160 times since the launch and the webpage has been featured as a library tout on the BPL homepage.

Due to the popularity of the program, marketing was expanded to the 60 branch libraries throughout Brooklyn. BAL marketing will also be targeted to local schools, community colleges and universities.

Evaluations following the BAL sessions have also been extremely positive. Some comments by satisfied patrons include:

“Glad you’ve started this program. Very useful”

“Being a senior citizen doctoral candidate, research has always been challenging. However, with the wealth of internet sourced links, and BPL search engines to which I was exposed during the session, I leave feeling more empowered than I have ever been.”

“The service opened up my point-of-view into issues I would have otherwise overlooked. It was a more encompassing research.”