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Knowledge and Learning Services Annual Report 2010 - 2011


Louise Berry


Sally Ijams


September 13, 2011

Nearly three years have passed since the opening of the new building and the KLS Department continues to assess the types of services we provide and how we offer them, always looking to better meet the needs of the community. The past year has seen the advent of reference service via text messaging, the introduction of a streaming digital music collection, a more easily accessible non-fiction collection, and the introduction of e-Books, to name but a few of the latest innovations our patrons use every day. In addition, work behind-the-scenes has continued to enhance our ability to provide extreme customer service. A new ILS, an innovative service model, and strong staff development have all contributed to an outstanding year.

For the better part of the past decade Darien reference librarians have been answering questions in person, on the telephone, by mail and by email to Three years ago we introduced one of our most popular means of access, instant messaging to Dewey Darien. This year, recognizing the increasing importance of mobile phones in the everyday lives of our patrons, we added reference service through text messaging. Patrons most commonly use the service to reserve the Bloomberg Terminal or a quiet study room, but they also use it to ask for general information that isn’t easily found on the web. Knowing that there is a trusted source of information at the other end of the line ensures that the service will find its audience in the years ahead.

One of the challenges facing the department since our start in the new building has been determining how to most effectively provide musical recordings to the community. Toward that end, the Library’s entire CD collection (over 70,000 individual songs) is now available to patrons in the building through iTunes. For those who wish to take their music on the road, we now subscribe to Rhapsody, a downloadable music database that offers access to hundreds of thousands of songs. Patrons can select up to 1,000 tracks that can be downloaded onto an MP3 player and borrowed for up to 30 days. This new service provides a significantly broader selection of music for the community, one that is available on demand without frustration and follows the letter of copyright law. It also means no more waiting on hold lists for CDs or dealing with scratched discs.

In an effort to make our non-fiction collection easier to browse, we introduced new signage and color- coding within the stacks. Simple signs created from recycled materials make finding favorite collections (classic cookbooks, interior design, self-help) a breeze. They also easily identify some of our most heavily used areas (resumes, college guides, medical books) making it easier for patrons to browse.

The Fall and Spring book discussion series, led by members of the KLS and RA departments, continues to be well received, with program attendance at an all-time high. KLS librarians also offer numerous technology classes, storytelling programs, poetry readings, and classics discussions.

Perhaps the most exciting debut of the year was the introduction of e-Books in early May. The KLS Department carefully selected a core collection comprised of current bestsellers, books of general interest, and a strong group of classic and contemporary business titles. The latter collection is one of the most popular among our e-Books, reflecting the popularity of the format among commuters.

The primary departmental focus continues to be how to best provide information services to the community. For the past four years the department has focused on the “roving librarian” model, walking the floor and actively seeking patrons who may need assistance. However, telephones, emails, IMs and text messages also need to be answered in a timely fashion. Toward that end, we created a new service model, which redirects the electronically submitted questions to off-desk librarians where they are answered immediately. The public is served with little or no wait while staff time is fully maximized.

The Travel, Large Print, and Finance collections all received special attention in the past year. The travel collection was expanded to include new travel series, as well as multiple copies of current popular guides like Frommer’s and Foder’s series. New Large Print material is now located on the Main Level next to the fireplace in the Fiction area, creating a warm and welcoming browsing environment.

This year I was invited to speak about our innovative Glade system to the staff of the Camden (ME) Public Library, Billerica (MA) Public Library, and at the Massachusetts Library Association Annual Meeting. Blanche Parker presented on ILL and Copyright Practices at the Connecticut Library Association Annual Meeting. Janet Davis and Erica Bess attended BookExpo America in New York City, the preeminent conference for the publishing industry. I attended Computers in Libraries (Washington, DC), learning the latest in computer research techniques, the mobile library, and trends in e-Books. Darien Library continues to be an early adopter in most fields and we are creating applications that most libraries haven’t begun to consider. Erica Bess and I attended the American Library Association Annual Meeting (New Orleans) at the end of June, once again focusing on emerging trends in technology as well as the practical aspects of issues we face on a daily basis.

Caroline Mandler Lopez and Erin Shea joined the KLS staff as part-time weekend assistants in September. After a wonderful year, it was with great pleasure that both accepted full-time positions, Caroline as a KLS Librarian and Erin as the Head of Adult Programming.

After 15 years as a reference librarian, Janet Davis moved from the front lines to the Materials Management Department, overseeing serials management, Children’s, YA and audiovisual materials. Erica Bess, part of the KLS Department since May 2010, left at the end of June to become Team Leader of the Information Department at the Princeton (NJ) Public Library. Erica’s short tenure played to her strengths and was a tremendous asset to the department.

One of the most important components of excellent service is the continued ability to understand and meet the needs our community. While answering questions and providing information are our stock in trade, our services are designed to help in any number of ways. The nooks and crannies of the new building make a large space feel intimate, whether looking for a quiet place to study or read a magazine, or finding a private area to conduct business. This year exam periods and extreme weather found us full to overflowing, and as librarians we were at our best when pushed to the limit, always committed to providing extreme customer service.