The New York Public Library’s latest initiative to support the city during the pandemic is Shelf Help, a new service provides patrons with personalized packages of recommended books.
From the safety of their homes, New Yorkers can share their interests with librarians, who then use their expertise to curate five recommended titles, and make the bundles available for pick-up and check out at one of the NYPL’s 50 currently-open branches in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. The service is available for adult, teen, and children’s titles.
To access the service beginning on October 26, patrons can fill out the online form, call Ask NYPL at 917-ASK-NYPL, or drop off a request form one of the system’s open branches. All branches currently open for limited service will have the forms available for patrons. As per safety protocols, the forms need to be quarantined for 96 hours before staff can fill requests.
The New York Public Library system temporarily closed all of its locations in March to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. It began gradually reopening with limited service in July, and now has 50 locations open for holds pickups and returns. With browsing currently on the shelf for safety reasons, the Shelf Help project can help patrons discover new titles, and enjoy the serendipitous pleasures of reading something unexpected and new.
“There is a wonderful moment of serendipity when a reader finds a new book they love and it is this experience the Library is seeking to recreate with the launch of Shelf Help,” said Lynn Lobash, Associate Director of Readers Services at The New York Public Library. “Although we’ve had to alter our services to support patrons during the pandemic, our librarians remain eager to share their knowledge and engage with readers in new and dynamic ways, which includes continuing to provide their expert guidance and love of books with New Yorkers of all ages.”
For more information, go to nypl.org/shelfhelp. Additionally, New Yorkers can sign up for library cards virtually via the SimplyE app, available for iOs and Android. The e-reader app offers access to over 300,000 free titles, which can be browsed, borrowed, and instantly available to read.