I met Colin Welch, a 2014 graduate of SU’s Library and Information Science Master’s program, at NYLA. When I heard about all of the innovative programming being offered at Liverpool Public Library, I knew it had to be my next Library Friday stop.
Colin is a part time reference librarian at Liverpool Public Library (LPL). He claims it is the best job he has ever had. Rotating between the children’s information desk and the general information desk, Colin gets the opportunity to work with patrons of all ages daily.
When I asked Colin what he learned in his studies at SU and how it applied to his current work, he mentioned IST 605: Reference and Information Literacy Services. He shared, “When people come to you, sometimes they don’t know what they want. The reference interview is really important, in order to find out exactly what they need.”
Number of employees at LPL
Liverpool has 82 employees, 10 of which are full time librarians. Their staff consists of part time librarians, library assistants and substitute librarians, as well. All librarians on staff do public event planning (programming), collection development, and public reference. Also, they do services including adult services, children’s services, teen services, community engagement, and computer/tech services.
Overall vibe and distinguishing features
If I could use one word to describe the vibe I felt inside LPL, it’d be ‘buzzing’. I visited LPL on a Wednesday night. The library seemed like the place to be to get through the midweek blues. Whether to get some work done in the Collaborative Learning Center (complete with a projector for group work), or oppositely, take a break from a busy few days and read a magazine nearby the mini coffee bar, the library appeared to be meeting patrons’ varying needs.
One distinguishing feature of the LPL’s lending services is that it allows patrons to check out way more than books. I’m not referring to audiobooks, DVDs, and other digital media. LPL’s “Beyond Books” collection contains outside-the-box, non-book items, ranging from musical instruments, to the Garmin eTrex 20 Handheld GPS and kits that motivate a patron to get outside and experience the beauty of Central New York.
Here are a few items LPL lends out for you to “ooh and ahh” over:
- A Stargazing kit, complete with binoculars and a night vision LED flashlight
- A Family History Video Kit, which allow patrons to easily collect and digitize family history, stories, and more
- “Netflix for Free,” AKA a Roku to take home and stream movies, TV shows and music on your TV via the internet
- “Book Club in a Bag,” which includes multiple copies of one book in a bag so that patrons can start their own book club
- Musical instruments
- Ukulele (Colin says this one is a patron favorite)
Another one of LPL’s distinguishing features are the “Tech Tips from Mr. G,” created by Patron Services Librarian for Technology, Keith Gatling. Alongside each piece of technology in the library is a “Tech Tips from Mr. G” cheat sheet, which explains how to use the technology. I especially loved the part of the library, nearby the computers, where there were how-to packets created by Mr. G himself, which walk patrons through how to use a library resource in detail. For example, Mr. G provides separate packets on “Borrowing eBooks on OverDrive for iOs Devices,” “Borrowing eBooks on OverDrive for Kindles,” “Reading Magazines with Zinio on Android devices,” and so many more.
Talk about redefining what a library lends and revamping how a library provides tech support!
What LPL Looks For When Hiring a New Staffer
According to LPL director, Glenna Wisniewski, “When hiring new staff LPL looks for enthusiasm and innovative thinking. We also look for a staff person who is comfortable working with the public–those from all walks of life. Lastly, a LPL employee must be a team player. We are all about teamwork and collaboration.”
Colin’s advice to current LIS students: “Write down everything you’re doing. Every session you attend at a conference, every extracurricular activity you participate in. It will come in handy when you apply for library jobs, especially if you take the Civil Service Exam and plan to work in a public library.”
What You Can Expect Patrons to Ask
Questions at LPL run the gamut. Anything from reader’s advisory to “how do I register to vote” or find out “what is that rattle my car is making”? Some patrons enter the library with in-depth research questions for a class, or an inquiry about how to download an ebook.
“Libraries are no longer just repositories for books, but the community center.” -Glenna Wisniewski, Director of the Liverpool Public Library
If you choose to drive through “Lights on the Lake” this holiday season—the two mile long light show in Liverpool—be sure to drive two minutes down the road to Liverpool Public Library. You’ll thank me when you find yourself curled up on the couch later that night with hot cocoa in one hand, and a great book (or ukulele) in the other.