Like many Washingtonians, staff at the Washington State Library are adjusting to working from home. This means that those of us who spend our days working directly with our customers are missing our interactions with them, and wishing we had access to the non-digitized books and newspapers that make our collection so uniquely valuable. In these days of pandemic however, we all have to make do. In our case, we’re still able to respond to most email inquiries — though article requests are on hold until we’re able to access our microfilm again. Print newspapers are being received and shelved by our essential staff on site (including State Librarian Cindy Aden) so that once things get back to normal, our customers will be able to access our archive of print papers without significant disruption. Essential staff are also responding to voicemails left on our reference telephone numbers. New books for the collection continue to trickle in for receiving, but cataloging and processing are on hold like in many libraries across the country.
Working from home also presents opportunities for catching up on professional development trainings that will improve our library and your customer service experience. Projects that we’ve long considered worth exploring are finding renewed life in virtual meetings and email correspondence. Displays of books that one would ordinarily only be able to enjoy if you step foot in the library will appear online. And new entries are slowly but surely making their way into our online Olympian and Historic Clippings Index (currently working on documenting the 1973 Legislative Special Session).
If you have an idea for State Library staff, send us an email. While we can’t guarantee that we’ll be able to implement it, this is a great time for us to evaluate our services to the public and see if we can make improvements. For example, in May we will be transitioning to the Springshare LibAnswers product for all our email and online chat interactions. This new platform will be a great improvement for all our customers, especially those who regularly correspond with us online, and again presents new opportunities for how we serve you. Would you like to see us implement the ability to text one of our librarians? Would you use such a service? Let us know.
Please stay safe and stay home. Adhering to all mandates about reducing your time around other people helps guarantee that our staff will see your smiling face once the Washington State Library finally does reopen to the public.
Click here for more information on contacting our reference librarians.