One of the most frequent activities library professionals are engaged in these days is placing "holds" for customers. For many of us, it's one of the job's highlights.
For library staff, the most rewarding part of our work is the opportunity to help our customers find what they need. There's nothing quite as satisfying as finding that website on a public computer, retrieving an article from a reference database or nabbing that book off the shelf for the inquiring mind standing before us.
There are, of course, those occasions when a particular piece of information is not on hand at the moment a customer in need comes to us. In the public library setting, this is often the case with circulating materials, both print and non-print, that are checked out and taken home for personal use. While the title in question might not be available, on many occasions it can be found at another library, whether it be in one of Beaufort County's five branches or one of the many libraries in the SC Lends consortium. Most items in the SC Lends catalog can be transported to a customer's local branch for pickup.
While library professionals love helping customers with all questions that arise, the SC Lends catalog allows users to place holds on their own from home. First, you need a provisional PIN from the library to set up your account password. The PIN works once as an activation tool; the user is then asked to create a password.
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To search the catalog in the pursuit of an item you would like to pick up at the library, go to www.beaufortcountylibrary.org. Click on "search the catalog" in the upper left. Then "click here to enter catalog" at the center of the next page to reach the main search page.
To narrow your search, you can click "advanced search" in the lower left of the blue box which will provide options to significantly narrow searches. For example, advanced search allows you to search by both title and author simultaneously. In addition, the advanced search option allows users to narrow and expand their search based on owning library location.
Once a search has been performed, and an item is identified in the results list, click the blue "place hold" button next to the title. After entering your library card number and password, you'll be able to select a branch for delivery and pickup. (Please note that although the catalog provides the option, the library does not provide phone notifications.)
As always, library staff are happy to help should you encounter any difficulties. In addition, if you are looking for an item that does not appear in our catalog, staff might be able to secure it through our interlibrary loan program. All you have to do is call your local branch for more information.
So whether you're home, at work, on vacation or at one of Beaufort County's Wi-Fi hot spots, check out our virtual branch library to place the materials you want on hold. Make the Beaufort County Public Library one of your best resources to help you save time and money in the new year.
Kelly Vadney is the circulation manager at the Hilton Head Branch of the Beaufort County Public Library, at 11 Beach City Road, Hilton Head Island.