Meet the Patron Services team. Any time you call KDL, one of these fine folks will answer. They are some of the kindest and smartest people out there! If you have a question, they have (or will find) the answer. They really are happy to help!
Here they share some of their favorite calls:
Recently, a woman called who said she had heard about KDL going fine-free and wanted to check on her son’s card. She said they had not been to the library in over a year because she was unable to pay the overdue fines on her son’s card. When I looked up the account, I was able to tell her that there were no more fines on the account and she could start using the library again right away. She was really happy and it made me feel so good being able to tell her that. How horrible that she felt excluded from the library for over a year just because of overdue fines! It was a nice moment.
I think my favorite phone call of recent memory is an older woman called who is homebound. She was curious about our eBooks but did not have a library card. So with her help, I filled out a form for a library card on our website so she could have a library card number to access the cloudLibrary app. Once I got her set up with a card, I then walked her through the process of downloading the cloudLibrary app, as well as searching for books and downloading them. I think this is my favorite call, because over the course of our call, she went from not having a library card to having an eBook downloaded on her iPad. She was so excited and it was just so rewarding connecting her with this resource. It was a good reminder of why I love working in PSD so much.
My most memorable call came in during my first few weeks in the department, which is probably why it was so memorable. At that point, I was still terrified of receiving a call that I wouldn't have an answer to. My headset rang, I answered, and the gentleman on the other end said something to the effect of, "I've got a challenge for you." The challenge? How to make mushroom-leather! And you know what, we found the answer, together, and I was totally fine. I didn't know the answer, but I had the resources to find it, and I was able to help this caller embark on the start of his mushroom-leather journey. The best part of this call was that I genuinely enjoyed it! He was a delightful person to converse with, and we both learned something new together.
One of my favorite patrons calls every week or so to check on holds and discuss how excited he is about visiting his local KDL branch. We've built a bond over the past few months, and at the end of one call, he said something so heartwarming that I honestly teared up a bit. I absolutely had to take down the quote and share it with my co-workers: "I want everyone to know how much I appreciate you guys. You guys are the best librarians in the whole world. You’re all so kind, so sweet, and there’s not a mean bone in your body. I love all of you, and I mean every word."
A Patron called in who had just moved to Grand Rapids from out of state. She told me that she was having trouble getting around as her sense of direction was all thrown off. She was so used to using the mountains to get around that she was wondering how anybody got anywhere in Michigan, and Grand Rapids in particular. She told me all you had to do, in her old state, was note if the mountain was on your left or right and then you knew exactly where you were. Luckily though we had time to chat and I was able to tell her about a few local landmarks, some main streets, and all about the local bus lines. By the end of the conversation we even had the exact bus she would need to find her way to the library. It seems that every city has its own unique way of letting you know exactly where you are at. Even if we don’t have mountains, one local landmark, which will always let you know exactly where you are, is your local library.
One of the most memorable phone calls I had was a patron calling to ask about book donations. A family member had passed and they wanted to make sure their books were put to good use. It was so touching to hear their story and that they thought of KDL during this difficult time.
One call that has really taken up residence in my heart was from a grandmother whose grandkids live in another state. She was calling to track down the books that were on the kids' school reading lists, so that she could read them too and they could discuss the books together over the phone. What a lovely way to bridge the distance between them!
A dad and his son called trying to figure out if the book he was reading was missing the last page. He was nearing the end, but noticed that the book appeared to end abruptly and without any endpapers. They wanted to find out if they needed to run to a branch that night to get another copy to finish the book. I tracked down the information to a very satisfying conclusion for all because they did have the whole book and they could stay at home reading rather than have to run out to finish the story!
My most memorable phone call was helping a patron research vacation destinations. What made it memorable was that they sent a personal note to the Service Center thanking our team for our help, and later they stopped by with a cake! The connections we build with patrons are what make working at the library so rewarding.