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Need a Little Pick-Me-Up? Try Librarian's Pick!

Need a Little Pick-Me-Up? Try Librarian's Pick!

A COVID time solution to browsing great titles
Shelf of new picture books waiting to be checked out

This beautiful stack of new picture books - just waiting for someone to check them out! Unsure of what to ask for, don't worry, trust a librarian's pick. 

Find the Right Book for You

Lots of things have changed in the current COVID world, but a helpful librarian seeking to connect you to a book you’ll love is still a service you can count on in Madison. 

Many of our patrons have lamented the loss of browsing. Who doesn’t miss running your hands down a long shelf of books to make a selection? But Madison Public Librarians have come up with creative ways to still meet patrons’ needs and provide access to materials. Starting with online tools for navigating the library catalog, and introducing a new Librarians’ Picks CSA-style request system, librarians are trying to make finding the right book easier when access to the library for safety concerns is still limited.

Patrons are able to send in requests of books or authors they like, such as... “Although we do love dinosaurs, we ask that you do not include any Dino books as we are trying to convince our kiddo to use his words instead of roaring at his friends...” And a librarian will customize a surprise order of other materials they might enjoy. 

graphic novels and crowded shelves at Sequoya library

Shelves full of favorite graphic novel & comic book titles at Sequoya library just waiting for readers. 

Requests can be even more general - “I need 10 graphic novels my 10 year old son will love!” or “Just give me a great big stack of NEW picture books! We need NEW in our lives!” Once requests are made, you will be informed when your books are ready to schedule a curbside pick up appointment. 

“It makes me so sad to see some of our most popular materials sitting on the shelves because patrons might not be as familiar navigating the catalog,” Clerk Emer Gallagher at Sequoya told us. “They don’t have to know exactly what they want, that’s why we’re here and we’d love to get all of these books into their hands.”

And it isn’t just individuals who are taking advantage of the service. “It has been really great to be able to direct some of our community partners to the CSA and curbside too,” youth service librarian Holly Storck-Post told us. “I have been able to sign partners up for an institutional library card and have them request books for all of the kids in their care.”

It's not an inconvenience or a hindrance. Rather, this service is one that many of our librarians look forward to providing the most. 
“Oh it’s super fun!” Youth Services Librarian Ruth Sias told us. “It makes me feel really connected to the work that I have always loved most at the library.” But it can be a little intimidating. “We mostly receive requests for kids, but I do the adult ones as well. Our adults’ tastes can be a little more solidified, but so far everyone seems really pleased.” 

And they haven’t been shy in telling us so. “Yes!!! My little guy and I have done two curbside pick up and two CSA’s and they were fabulous experiences!” one happy mom told us, “Your crew picked great books! Thank you!!!” We’ll take eight exclamation points any time.

Another happy patron pleaded, “PLEASE keep this service after the COVID pandemic. I adore this type of thing. I spend so much money on book mystery boxes.” When this quote was shared during our employee zoom town hall a cheeky coworker chatted to me, “Don’t they know we HAVE been doing this service forever? ;) It’s the best part of working the reference desk!” 

And yet, it’s understandable. There is something special about that bag of books, wrapped up in a mystery, just waiting on the table outside your local library, even more so than a list of titles from a lovely helpful librarian. It’s like a present. And who doesn’t need a present these days? 

Lots of us! On September 15, we reached our 1000th  Library’s Pick CSA request since the program started in May. Averaging 55 a week, the numbers have steadily grown over the summer as the word has spread. Mondays are by far the busiest day, perhaps everyone finishes their books over the weekend and comes back for more, but there is plenty of capacity for your requests. 

CSA is only a small portion of the overall curbside service that completes nearly 5000 pick up requests each week across all of our libraries, but to those who have used it, the satisfaction is very high. 

Need a little NEW in your lives? Need a present to make learning and reading more exciting? Look no further than your local library. Reach out and let us know what we can find for you today. 


Rebecca Millerjohn
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