Virtual Services connect patrons with library anytime

Today I’m sitting down with a friend of mine, Vinnie Kahn, an infrequent library user. Vinnie and I have been discussing all of the amazing resources that libraries have to offer, which my readers know about from previous articles.

Vinnie: That’s all well and good, but none of this applies to me. I work weird shifts; I can’t make it in when you’re open most days.

Me: Vinnie, don’t you realize that nearly everything that you need from the library can be accessed any time?

Vinnie: (looks skeptical) I’m skeptical.

Me: For instance, I know you like to work on your car on Sundays, right?

Vinnie: I do. How am I supposed to access your auto repair manuals?

Me: We have a lot of online databases that you can access from our website, one of which is an Auto Repair Reference Center. We also have databases to help your kids with their homework, your wife, Vera, with her genealogy research; resources for legal forms, medical information … you can even learn another language! As long as you have a library card, you can find what you need there any time.

Vinnie: How is using a database different from just searching for something on the internet?

Me: Using one of our databases takes the guesswork out of research. If you just type what you’re looking for into a search box, you never know if the information you end up with is current, accurate, or conclusive. Databases have all of the information that you need right there together, and it is up-to-date and from verified sources.

Vinnie: That’s all well and good, but a lot of the time I just want something to read, or to watch a movie with the kids.

Me: We can help you out there too! Our library is part of the Ohio Digital Library, which gives you access to thousands of ebooks, audiobooks, music and videos. You can put items on hold, create lists of things you’ve enjoyed or want to try next, and download them to nearly any device, like that tablet Vera gave you for your birthday.

Vinnie: That thing? It’s still in the box. I don’t know how to use that stuff.

Me: Well, of course we’re happy to help you set it up if you bring it into the library, but since getting here is a problem for you, we have tutorials on our website that show you how to download e-materials for nearly every device.

Vinnie: So, research, music, books, videos … ah-hah! What about magazines? I’ve got you there!

Me: No Vinnie. No, you don’t. We subscribe to a service called Zinio, which gives you access to all of your favorite magazines. It’s even interactive; it looks just like the current issue, but you can click on page numbers in the table of contents to take you to the article you want to read, and on links to go to web pages and learn more about what you’re reading. There’s even an easy print option if you’d like to keep a recipe from “Every Day with Rachel Ray” or print out a diagram from “Family Handyman.”

Vinnie: That’s all great stuff, but sometimes I just have questions, and who better to ask than a librarian? It’s a shame you aren’t available 24×7!

Me: Well, actually …

Vinnie: Seriously?

Me: Yep! “Know it Now,” Ohio’s online reference service is the place where you can get live help from a librarian 24×7 for finding resources for homework or research on any topic, suggestions for good books to read, or answers to satisfy your general curiosity.

Vinnie: This is so wonderful! How can I ever repay you?

Me: Just make sure to take advantage of all of these great resources! Library funding is determined by usage – if we have the numbers to back us up, we can continue to offer you the services you need in the library and at home.

Vinnie: One last thing – are you still doing that contest every month?

Me: I sure am! Contact the front desk staff with this month’s secret password, “Zinio,” for a chance to win a St. Clairsville Friends of the Library canvas tote bag!

The St. Clairsville Public Library is located at 108 W. Main Street. We are open Monday – Wednesday, 10-8; Thursday and Friday, 10-6; and Saturday, 10-2. We can be reached at 740-695-2062 or