TADL Staff Spotlight: Anita Chouinard

Anita Chouinard, Circulation Coordinator
Traverse Area District Library

How long have you worked for TADL and what attracted you to working at the library?
The library was very close (within walking distance) to my grandparents’ house, and I’ve always been an avid reader so I was naturally drawn to the library. I started working as a Page at the Traverse City District Library while I was in high school and then stopped while I went to college. Afterward, I came back to Traverse City and resumed working as a Page while I was a young mother. In 1996, I was hired as a Library Aide in the Circulation department and have spent the past 22 years working in progressive responsibilities.

Working for TADL is my dream job. Aside from loving to read (I always have a book with me), I enjoy the people…both our patrons and staff. It’s a great place to work!

What is your role as the Circulation Coordinator for TADL?
First and foremost, I see my job primarily being to sign people up for Library Card accounts so that they can access the world of library resources available to them.

We also handle the returned materials and deliveries to each of the six TADL network locations. For example, when an item is borrowed from the Kingsley Branch Library but then returned at the Main Library (Traverse City), we check it in as “returned” on-site and then send it back to Kingsley in cargo bins for re-shelving. These bins are sent and received daily (Monday – Friday), so we have about 75 bins in/out per week, and there can be about 70-90 items in each bin!

Your department also manages Hold requests. What is a Hold and why is it useful for patrons?
Patrons can reserve (place a Hold on) items that are currently checked out by another person. This is really useful for very popular items with dozens of people waiting for a copy, like newly released titles. Placing a Hold puts you “in line” and means that it cannot be renewed by the current borrower. If you want to borrow a title and you don’t place a Hold, simply waiting for it to be returned, you may be waiting a lot longer because of the maximum of four renewals policy. So my advice is, “If you want it soon…place a hold and reserve a copy.”

The Holds shelf has some fun/silly names listed on the books. Why is that?
We take patron privacy very seriously. Therefore we place the reserved book, movie and music spines facing inward for privacy so that others can’t see the materials held in your name. Even so, some patrons were uncomfortable having their name displayed publicly on their reserved materials. So our Technology staff created a way for library card holders to create an alias for their account.

You can assign an alias to your account by logging into your online TADL account. [If you don’t already have a username and password for your TADL account, visit any TADL location service desk.] Once logged in, select  “Account Preference” then under “Holds Shelf Alias” select “change”, enter your online password and then your selected alias. If you choose to call yourself “Batman” your holds will be waiting for you under that name.  [Sorry, Batman is already taken.] But make sure you remember your alias when picking up holds!

In the past 22 years, what changes have had the most impact on the Circulation department?
The TADL mobile app (on iTunes App Store and Android Market) is awesome! Not everybody carries their library card with them, but almost everyone has their phone. The app has a digital library card and the ability to search collections and manage your patron account.

Also, self-checkout kiosks are great. Most patrons are self-sufficient and simply scan their card, place their stack of materials on the kiosk and get their receipt. The self-checkout means shorter lines and allows our Circulation Staff to spend more time serving patrons that need assistance with their account, to pay fines, or have any other needs.

What is one thing about the library that you want our community to know?
Most people still think about libraries as a place for books, but they don’t know about the range of access to the digital collections for digital borrowing on their smartphone, tablet or desktop. These include services like Hoopla, Kanopy, RB Digital, and Overdrive, offering a variety of TV shows, movies, audio books, digital comic books, music, and magazines. Definitely check those out on our website: www.tadl.org/at-home

And all you need to do to access these resources is get a TADL library card!