Laura Barkema works in the Reference and Reader’s Advisory department at the Central Library in Copley Square, assisting patrons with a variety of needs from research to helping users with their devices.
Why do you enjoy working for the BPL?
I enjoy explaining to library users that our services our free, because a lot of people do not realize that. The excitement people show when they realize this is great. Through teaching classes, I also see how appreciative people are to learn about the Internet and gaining computer skills.
How do you assist users in using digital services?
I’ve taught classes that give overviews of e-books and drop-in sessions for people with devices that need assistance. I also help users frequently at the reference desk with any of our digital services, such as our digital magazines, the mobile app, or streaming media. I like being a go-to person if someone has a question on how to navigate one of our digital services step-by-step.
How does technology enhance library service?
In a digital world, it’s important that our library services are up to date. The technology opens up our services to a new population of users; people who live anywhere in the state are able to get an e-card and access our digital resources. If a print copy of a book is not available, I might suggest the e-book version, and many people are open to learning.
What is an area of your job that some people may not know about?
In addition to reference, we also help users with our Reader’s Advisory service. I like giving book recommendations to people and giving them some options, and I hope to do more of that when the New Books area opens on the first floor of the Johnson building. The other day I helped a patron who was looking for a David McCullough book. We didn’t have it in, but I knew she was interested in history and biographies, and I found a popular presidential biography for her and a few other recommendations — she was very happy.