Have you ever checked the public library for a book or resource you'd love to get your hands on and discovered that it is not available? What do you do? Well, you could hunt around for something similar, or settle for a different book by the same author. You might just give up and go to a bookstore or an online bookseller and purchase what you're looking for. But did you know that you can request the library to order the book for its collection?
Today is the first of a six-week blog series in which I introduce you to some of the amazing features of the Sno-Isle Library system. It is likely that, if you live out of the area, your local library offers some of the same services that make Sno-Isle such a great resource in our community.
But first, I want to tell you about the Sno-Isle Service Center. If you are driving south on Interstate-5 through Marysville, WA, you may have noticed the large brick building just yards from the freeway off to your right. It houses the approximately one hundred administrative and support staff that keep the twenty-one community libraries, the online services, and the Library on Wheels of the Sno-Isle Library running smoothly, freeing up the librarians throughout the region to meet the needs of patrons who rely on their local libraries.
Recently I toured the Service Center, being introduced to the workings of many of the departments by my gracious and knowledgeable guide, Nancy Pursel, Sno-Isle's Volunteer Program Administrator. I was already a fan of the library, but this was like going to a familiar hiking area and discovering new trails that I didn't know existed.
So, back to the dilemma at hand, checking the catalog for an item from the library only to learn that there is no such title listed. Unless your need for the book is urgent (we'll just say book, although it could be any number of other things that you're looking for), you can click on the link on the Sno-Isle website that says "Ask Us, Tell Us." Halfway down the page you'll find "Request an item not in the catalog." Click on that and follow the instructions. So here's the cool thing about this. There is a Collection Department at the Service Center, made up of trained librarians with specialties in various genres, who see your request and go to work trying to meet it. They research the book, looking up reviews and seeing if there are already similar books in the collections, then determine whether or not to approve the purchase of the title you have requested.
Perhaps they approve the purchase. They pass the request on to the Acquisitions Department, where the staff spend their days buying books. Sounds like a great job to me! The Catalog Department creates a temporary description and adds it to the Sno-Isle catalog, so that people who use the system have a chance to put the book on hold. For every five holds, they buy one more copy of the title. I've been on very long hold lists as I've waited for my turn to get the book, but even when I am number 325, there are enough books being purchased that my copy shows up within a reasonable amount of time.
Every day books and other items are being added to the Sno-Isle collections, not just three or four books, but usually a hundred or more. Daily! You can browse the recent additions here.
|Some of the new books waiting to go into circulation
If you request a book and the request is denied, they may be able to get you a copy from another library outside the Sno-Isle system. That is called an Interlibrary Loan. Or they may discover that the title is actually available through Sno-Isle, just a bit difficult to track down. Of course they may be unable to fill your request, but they will have done their best to help you get what you're looking for.
Come back next Friday morning at three minutes to nine to read Part 2 of What You Didn't Know About Sno-Isle Libraries So You Didn't Think to Ask!