Library Spotlight: Specialized Book Services

Published 6:23 pm Friday, December 14, 2018


News release

The Boyle County Public Library will be celebrating its 125th anniversary at the end of December this year. As a lead up to the big event, we’ll be highlighting different areas of the library the public might not know about. This week, we’ll look at the specialized book services in the library.

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Part of the library’s mission is to promote lifelong learning and connect people to information. The library’s specialized book services directly supports that mission. The library works hard to provide a broad and useful selection of materials for its users. Choosing materials to add to the library’s collections is a process undertaken by trained library staff, in accordance with a detailed selection policy, and limited by an annual purchasing budget. At a time when between 600,000 and one million books are published annually in the United States alone (Forbes, 2013), the Boyle County Public Library may be able to purchase between six and seven thousand items each year.

Some patrons may have a need for an item the library does not own. A person may require specific information on an unusual subject. Students may require an extended selection of materials for an in-depth study of a topic. Or someone may simply have a sense of curiosity about a particular book or author or a controversial subject. This is where Inter-Library Loan (aka ILL) comes in. Patrons with library cards in good standing may use the library’s ILL service to borrow books that are not available locally. Patron requests are given to Stephanie Donovan, the ILL librarian, who is trained in using an international database called WorldShare.


WorldShare is a database that is accessible by most libraries across the United States and around the world. Libraries that participate may borrow materials that are listed as available. In exchange, libraries also agree to loan out their materials. Each member library may restrict what items they loan out, so as to protect especially fragile, valuable, or otherwise delicate materials.

Donovan processed 1,061 ILL requests last year.  Through an agreement with the Kentucky Virtual Library, most Kentucky libraries are aided in their ILL activity through a courier service. The BCPL has one courier delivery day each week. Items borrowed from out-of-state arrive via the U.S. Postal Service.

Donovan says most of the requests she processes are rather routine fiction and non-fiction books, but occasionally something interesting does come across her desk. Recently, “Proceedings and Debates of the Virginia State Convention of 1829-30” was borrowed through ILL from Syracuse University. “We have loaned out and received materials from all over the country, even as far as Alaska,” says Donovan.  “If an item is available and the libraries will lend it to us, we can get it.”

Book kits are another specialized book service the library offers. The library currently has 31 book kits available for reservation. This is an affordable way for any small group to host a book club. Each kit contains anywhere from seven to twenty-five copies of the same book and, in some cases, a discussion guide. The book kit collection has grown over the past few years through community partnerships in a variety of “Everybody Reads” programs. The newest book kit was created for “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as part of an “Everybody Reads” program sponsored by the Citizens Concerned for Human Relations earlier this year.

Book kits are available for both fiction and non-fiction titles and, in some cases, specifically for younger readers. Search for “BCPL book discussion” in the library’s database or check with a library staff member for assistance.