New way offered for people to connect to local libraries

Matt Miller - email

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - There is a new way in the Tri-State for people to stay connect to their local Public Library.

The Public Relations Director for the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County says they are proud to offer a new Virtual Information Center. The Center is designed to accommodate customers seeking information assistance and accessing our resources when they are outside the Library's physical building.

Staff in the Virtual Information Center will answer phone calls, respond to email questions, reply to text messages through "textalibrarian," and answer questions for customers online 24/7 through "KnowItNow." Customers will also receive assistance accessing, and using the Library's wide variety of online and electronic resources including e-books and e-audiobooks. During the first 2 weeks of February the Virtual Information Center received more than 12,800 calls!

"It's an exciting time for the Library when we can provide services and resources that meet our customers where they are, regardless of whether or not they are present in one of our buildings," said Kim Fender, Executive Director of the Library.

"We want to make sure our customers realize this new department is an expansion of services not to replace face-to-face, personal service," explained Ms. Fender. "Instead, the center will focus staff resources on providing high-quality, efficient, fast service to remote users while allowing our frontline staff to concentrate on serving in-person customers."

In addition, services provided through this new center will devote staff resources to web-based services of all types, while supporting use of the Library's growing collection of downloadable materials. Fender adds, "With use of our downloadable collection up by more than 55% in 2010 we have been expanding our downloadable collection to meet the demand for ebooks and e-audiobooks, while continuing to offer a great selection of print books for our customers. This expanded collection will complement our traditional collection and serve as another option for customers to pursue."

The Library also says that one more benefit of this new service model is that it will not increase costs and will be fully functional in early 2011. The creation of the Virtual Information Center continues the Library's emphasis on providing future-focused, customer-oriented service to our community.

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