GREENFIELD – At the beginning of a new year, reading more books is a common resolution. The Hancock County Public Library is there to help, and is planning more ways to serve the public as it continues adjusting to the realities of COVID-19.

“Obviously, we’re still working through some of the COVID stuff,” library director Dave Gray said. “The staff has been great, and we’ve remained open through all of 2021.”

The biggest addition for the library this year will be adding a second vehicle for book deliveries, one that’s smaller than their flagship Bookmobile. Gray said adding a car will make it easier to make deliveries to people who aren’t able to make it to the library but still want to receive books, particularly those living in senior citizen communities.

Gray said the library is also working on ramping back up its programming, which has remained slightly below pre-pandemic levels of attendance. While smaller in-person programs have returned to the library, a goal for 2022 is to bring back concerts and other performances that would attract up to 150 people to the library’s community rooms.

Foot traffic and statistics for use of materials have been at about 85-90% of what they were prior to 2020, Gray said.

“We’re not back to 100%, but we hope to get there,” he said. “…Circulation isn’t the only indicator of use of library services, but what we try to do is take a look at circulation, foot traffic, programming, the use of library services, those types of things. What we’re seeing right now is that our foot traffic is pretty close to what it was before.”

Throughout the year, Hancock County’s librarians will work on evaluating what books, magazines, movies and other materials to acquire for the library’s collection. Many of those decisions are guided by librarians Cody Flood, for adult materials, and Cathy Riley, for youth.

Flood said decisions about what to acquire for the adult collection are divided between staff members, who are each responsible for a different section. To decide what they need on the shelves, librarians monitor new releases from publishers, book reviews, and bestseller lists. They also respond to requests from library patrons.

If you’re looking for a specific book that isn’t included in the library’s collection, you can ask the library to acquire a copy. They can either purchase a copy or borrow one from another library through interlibrary loan programs.

“You can do that online through the website, or you can just come in and talk to us,” he said.

A book that isn’t available in print might also be available through the library’s selection of electronic materials on the services Hoopla and Overdrive.

Riley said the youth section of the library has a similar process for acquiring books, monitoring interest and requests from both young readers and their parents.

“We take a lot of feedback from the kids on what they enjoy,” she said.

The youth section, Riley said, tries to keep track of topics children are interested in reading about and add materials that match – they recently started subscribing to National Geographic magazine for that reason. They’ll also make sure to continue purchasing books in a series if children are keeping up with it.

If you’re not sure what you’d like to read next, the library can help with that as well. The software NoveList helps library workers find recommendations for books similar to anything a reader enjoys, and many will have their own recommendations as well. The page “Your Next Great Read” on the library’s website allows readers to select a librarian with similar taste in books and fill out a brief survey about what they’re looking for. A selection of recommendations will be placed on hold for you.

A similar service is available for children’s books; parents can receive a stack of books appropriate for a child’s age and interests. Librarians also have book lists like 100 Books Before Kindergarten for parents who are looking to read to young children.

“Come talk to us as librarians and we’ll help you come up with a list of good books,” Flood said. “We love helping people find what they want to read.”

Resolution resources

Need help keeping your 2022 New Year’s resolutions? The Hancock County Public Library can help.

Library manager Kitty Smock advised visiting hcplibrary.org/online and exploring the “Learning and DIY” area for helpful resources. For example, library patrons can assess Mango Languages to take lessons in over 70 different languages online.

Through the Great Courses Library Collection, you can audit classes online from some of the best professors in their field. For students, live tutors and study tools are also available.

Another resource is driving-tests.org, which can help patrons prepare to get their driver’s license.

“For people who have made a New Year’s resolution to get organized, there’s a ‘personal planning’ document in our ‘Legal Forms’ section that helps you gather all the information that’s necessary before visiting an attorney to create a will and plan your estate,” Smock said.

Library patrons can also find tools like a personal monthly budget worksheet, guides to creating a home inventory and listing your asset information, and for people whose resolution is to get out and see the world, “essential documents for the organized traveler.”

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