Tinley librarian promotes digital services
BY MIKE NOLAN email@example.com January 15, 2013 10:50PM
Virtual services librarian Anthony Andros shows mobile devices the Tinley Park Public Library lets patrons check out for two week periods Tuesday, December 18, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 17, 2013 6:02AM
Anthony Andros really does exist, although his job title at the Tinley Park Public Library might suggest otherwise.
In a position the library created just a couple of months ago, his role as “virtual services librarian” has little to do with books on the shelves but rather helping link library patrons to the vast collection of online material the library has to offer.
Libraries around the country are working to appeal to people who might not be frequent visitors to their local library but still are tapping into novels and reference material via their computer, tablet or smartphone.
“It’s really a new position in the library world,” Andros said, noting that more and more libraries are designating one person whose job it is to keep up on emerging technologies and focus on “how patrons interact with the library outside of the walls.”
During January, the Tinley Park library is promoting a few digital services available at no cost to cardholders.
One of them, Zinio, offers access to more than 40 magazines, with no time limit on how long they can be checked out, Andros said. It’s been available through the library since fall, and about 120 people are taking advantage of it, he said.
To help promote it, library staff are considering handing out information about Zinio — or even demonstrating it — at the village’s Metra stations, Andros said.
An online foreign language instruction program, Mango, also is available to patrons, while Atomic Training offers online instructional videos on computer programs such as Microsoft Excel, Adobe Photoshop and Windows 8, Andros said.
Patrons also can text questions to library staff through a service called Text-a-Librarian, he said.
“We want to be able to communicate with them (patrons) on their terms and on the gadgets they’re using,” Andros said.
Andros, who has a master’s degree in library and information science, joined the library in 2009 and had been working in the adult reference section before being tabbed as the virtual services librarian.
He said that more computer classes are planned for this year at the library, including segments focusing on social media and applications for mobile devices. Andros said he’d also like to visit schools in the village to talk with students about online resources the library offers, including “things that are just for fun but also things that can apply to school.”
A larger long-range goal, he said, is to create a digital media studio at the library, where teens could produce video or music projects or a small business could shoot a commercial.
The studio would “create a unique space where people can participate in the library in a new way,” Andros said.