Off the Shelf: Spring Refresh

Off The Shelf

Spring Refresh


Spring has officially arrived! I’ve been a Midwesterner my whole life, so I know that spring on the calendar doesn’t necessarily mean that we won’t still see some cold days or even a bit of that white stuff. Even so, I can’t help getting excited when I see buds on the trees and daffodils starting to bloom at the library. It is refreshing to see the color return to the yards and parks.


At the library, we are refreshing some of our spaces this spring. If you come in the building, you’ll see new slat wall going up in the youth area and a new display area coming to life between the customer service and help desks.


Since this time last year, we also remodeled the former coffee shop space, added a toddler center, moved the hold pick up shelf, created a Money Matters area, and did some painting. We always have our eye on ways to improve our physical space.


We also are doing a complete remodel of our branch library – the virtual library found through our website. Thanks to the State Library, we got an opportunity to move our site to a new platform and new design. It has been several years since we made big changes to our site, so it is refreshing to give it a whole new updated look. Just like those closets we tend to clean out in the spring, we found that our site had filled up over the years with some things we no longer needed. We weeded out the things that weren’t being used or had gone out of style. We added some new things, too.


If you use your phone or other mobile devices to access the web, you’ll find the new site is easier to navigate. The new platform allows the site to be responsive, or adapt to the size of your screen, for a better user experience.


The change over to the new site will happen in the coming week. The website address isn’t changing, but you will need to update your bookmarks if you have some for specific pages on our site.


If you use other libraries in the state, you’ll see some similarities as others, like Mediapolis Public Library, have also switched to this new platform.


Over the years, our website has gone from a place to find information on how to visit the library building to being a destination of its own. Today, when you visit the online branch of our library, you can do many of the same things that you do when you come to our building, such as borrow materials and do research.


With your library card, you can visit the virtual library anytime to checkout an ebook or audiobook, download a magazine, or stream movies or music from the comfort of your home, school, or office, or even while you are traveling. If you haven’t already tried Kanopy, Freading, Hoopla, Libby, or the other great resources for library card holders, there are also some video tutorials available on the new site to help you get started. Of course, you also can contact the library, and we always are happy to assist.


Even if you prefer your print versions books, the website is still a great place to start using the library by logging into the catalog with your library card information, searching for what you want to checkout, and making a list or putting items on hold for easy pick up when you visit us in-person. You can also use the materials request form on the website to ask for items that aren’t in the library’s collection.


Just like in the physical library, your online library also offers newspapers to read. In fact, we recently added many more newspapers to the virtual library. Since last month, we expanded our NewspaperArchive subscription to include, not just Iowa newspapers, but their complete package. You can now search historic newspapers from across the country and even around the world.


We also added a new subscription to NewsBank, which will become available, with your library card, when the new site goes live. With NewsBank, you will be able to search the Hawk Eye from 1995 to the present day. New articles are added the same day that the print paper comes out. You’ll also be able to search other area papers, such as The Quad City Times, Daily Democrat, and Daily Gate City. You can explore the whole collection by using the map search to find what papers they offer from other states and countries. I was surprised to even found my college newspaper is on NewsBank. Another option is to search by topic to find articles across the thousands of papers offered and get multiple takes on the topic.


Through NewsBank, we also were able to expand our tools for family history researchers at our virtual library. Now, in addition to Ancestry Library Edition, Heritage Quest, and others, you can use Heritage Hub. This new tool features obituaries and death notices dating back to the early 1800s.


Just like there is a lot to explore in the physical library, the virtual library branch is filled with resources. We hope you enjoy the new remodel when it is unveiled later this week. If you have any questions, we’d love to give you a tour of the new site and help you find what you need.


See you at the library!