"NoveList and LearningExpress Library are two things we reference to answer patron questions often."
Zander Miller is the Digital Strategies Librarian at the Kenosha Public Library and was a member of the BadgerLink Advisory Group from 2019 through 2021. He joined the Kenosha Public Library in June of 2019 after receiving his MLIS from the University of Illinois: Urbana-Champaign in May of 2019. One of his main goals is to demystify technology for the community and make it feel at home in their hands.
How have libraries changed since you were a kid?
I wasn’t actually much of a library kid. I remember my school libraries as a place for computer labs and book sales, and books in general. Now, I see them more as event and community centers. I see people more at the heart of libraries.
What’s a typical week like? How has that changed during pandemic?
I normally work on a reference desk, travel to meetings, work on managing technology appointments, present a program or two, meet with digital resource vendors, and check on our online resources. During the pandemic half of my job shifted. Reference desk shifts and technology appointments now are completely cut out. Instead of presenting programs, I facilitate Zoom program meetings and presentations. I spend a lot more time going through our online resources and purchasing ebooks and e-audiobooks. I participate and facilitate community conversations about the needs of the community.
How has your online resource use changed in the last 8 months?
Generally, our ebooks and e-audiobooks jumped. The biggest jump was between February and March. April had the highest peak usage of our e-materials. As we instituted curbside pick-up and opened branches with reduced capacity and hours, the usage has gone down, but it’s still much higher than before the pandemic. Some of our other e-resources definitely went up as vendors allowed remote access to resources like Ancestry and BadgerLink allowed access to Newspaper Archive. Some people used those e-resources for the first time and apparently they liked it because they keep using it.
How long have you known about BadgerLink, and been a user of BadgerLink resources?
I’ve known and been a user and advocate for BadgerLink since I began working as a librarian in Wisconsin. So, since June of 2019. Funnily enough, my alma mater is UW-Madison and I’d never heard of it when I was an undergraduate student from 2012-2016.
When I started working at Kenosha Public Library, I started going through the e-resources and found BadgerLink and went through all of it. That was the first time I heard about and worked with it. Now I know BadgerLink is there and encourage people to use it.
Tell us the benefits you’ve found to statewide availability of an online resources library like BadgerLink.
BadgerLink directly affects what I do for part of my job! I work with acquiring our online resources, so my perspective on how beneficial it is looks at the technical and monetary side of things. People don’t understand how expensive online resources are. The bottom line is BadgerLink saves the individual library hundreds of thousands of dollars. That’s money we can put into other services for the public. That’s time in technical support we don’t need to worry about. We have room to purchase resources that target our population because BadgerLink provides the basic, necessary resources for all libraries across the state.
It would be impossible for us to provide a robust, ongoing, and regularly updated digital resource collection without this statewide support. Having BadgerLink available is huge for us.
Tell us the BadgerLink resources you’ve found yourself using more often during the pandemic.
I must give a shout-out to NoveList during the pandemic. We offered a new service called “Pick-10” when we were without delivery and limited to the books available at only one branch location. We dug through our entire collection because popular books were all gone within days. Using NoveList, we were able to find books similar to what our patrons needed and get them into their hands.
Which BadgerLink resources do you use in your professional development?
The Core Collections are what we use for collection development. If something is core and we’re weeding, we make sure we get a replacement. This resource is how we double check that. I use the genre guides in NoveList when I’m doing training on genres. For example, discovering a genre like Space Opera, that was new to me, or figuring out how to differentiate between genres like Urban Fiction and Urban Fantasy.
Which BadgerLink resources do you use outside of your professional life?
Whenever I need an encyclopedia and don’t want to use Wikipedia, I will use Britannica. Especially if I need a quick fact and Google isn’t cutting it. I know Britannica. I know it’s good encyclopedic research. I might cross reference it.
I also use U.S. Newstream. Especially when I hit a paywall for things like New York Times.
What do you wish Wisconsinites knew about BadgerLink that you don’t think they do?
I wish they knew BadgerLink gives us a lot of support by making available resources we use every single day on the job, and that they can use it too. For our patrons, NoveList and LearningExpress Library are two things we reference to answer patron questions often. Patrons have access to those resources at home and on their own too. You really have to explore it to get everything out of it.