Library bustles with a variety of activities

Kolleen Taylor
Director, Bertha Bartlett Public Library
Denise Froehlich, assistant director of the Bertha Bartlett Public Library in Story City, prepares to send a fax, which is a frequent service the library offers.

Periodically I have a conversation with people who seem surprised when I tell them we have had extremely busy days at the library. There is a lot more going on inside the library walls than just checking out materials, and this is a good time to remind our community of many of the things we do.

I talked about tax season in recent weeks, as our copier is critical in getting the correct forms into our patrons hands. Over the last few years, the forms have changed in appearance, and we often see a surprised look when we show our patron what the form name is and what it looks like now. But it isn’t just during tax season that we help locate legal, state or federal forms. These pages are re-designed periodically and many things can happen while looking for the correct forms. There are counterfeit pages, but while trying to work with the forms, we may discover there are strange things associated with the page. Library staff are pretty savvy with the internet and aware that there are always websites designed to appear to be legitimate which can cause lots of headaches. 

Our copier also has a scanner, and we teach people how to use it so they can email to themselves or to professionals who need copies. We are surprised how often the scanner cannot be used and our fax machine is needed to send sensitive information to institutions who require their information sent on the phone lines. 

Most people love to browse our library shelves choosing their own books, but we offer assistance to our patrons in finding a new author, helping them locate information on any given subject, and help them glean information which is obscure from the various resources we have within the library. 

There isn’t a book written on every subject, and using the index in our non-fiction material is not a skill everyone has. Locating the correct book which might include a little insight on new issues, unfamiliar topics and minor events in the past is sometimes tricky and might take a seasoned research librarian several attempts before they are able to get the proper information into the hands of a needy patron.

Although it seems like everyone has a computer or smart phone these days, it isn’t true. We are the go-to place for the population who lives in that world. There are many updates and changes to this technology, the cost to keep up with it keeps many a savvy resident from investing in these items. 

One of the reasons I believe I was hired 15 years ago, was because I had a longer history working with computers and technology than most librarians at that time. But today it is an important aspect of our jobs. We are constantly updating, troubleshooting and fixing things that go wrong with our technology. We feel our patrons place confidence in us when they come to the library and relieved they have a place where they can get help and find solutions. With job search, unemployment and most major aspects of our lives needing computer access, we are a lifeline for them.

With the various devices that handle the audio books and e-books we provide through our library catalog, we find it is important for us to be able to help. Some of our staff are more comfortable with assisting in this manner, but we often are talking through the steps over the phone, and others bring the devices with them to show us what is perplexing them. 

We try to be the helpful hands for our community, solving problems and answering questions, we hope we make life easier. We always wish we could do more and are glad to help when we can. 

Kolleen Taylor is the director of the Bertha Bartlett Public Library, which is located at 503 Broad St., Story City.