Anyone can easily access a number of services at the Nelson Public Library through its website. Photo: Pexels

Anyone can easily access a number of services at the Nelson Public Library through its website. Photo: Pexels

CHECK THIS OUT: Everything you can do on the Nelson Public Library website

Avi Silberstein writes about some hidden features

by Avi Silberstein

Page Turner was new to Nelson. She’d moved here from Manitoba for work, and one of the first things she did when she arrived in town was get a library card (naturally). But she did it in a way that wouldn’t have been possible a year ago: online.

Since COVID-19 hit, the library has been working hard to adapt our services and programs. One such change is that you can now get a new library card on our website. It took Page all of two minutes. And when she came to the library for the first time she brought her ID to complete the validation process.

It was while Page was still on the library website ( that she noticed a headline urging her to sign up for the newsletter. Two clicks, and she was done. Now she gets a monthly email update from the library telling her all about everything that’s going on. Not just that, but she also took the opportunity to sign up for a monthly list of new kids, teen, and adult books.

Later that week, while she was waiting at home for a five-hour window in which her cable TV was supposed to get installed, Page received her first email of New and Notable adult books. Right away she found two that she wanted to read, but they were both checked out at the moment, so she put a hold on them. Nothing to it. And a couple of weeks later she got a text telling her they were ready for pickup.

One thing you should know about Page: she loves reading. She has her favourite genres and her favourite authors — but even so, there are times when she has no idea what to read next. Which was why she was so excited to learn how to use Novelist, a free online database tool (, to find her next read.

She’d never used Novelist before — didn’t even know what it was, in all honesty — but one of the librarians had mentioned it last time she was picking up a book, and a few days later she decided to give it a try. She sat down on her couch and fired up her laptop.

It turned out to be a great way of finding more of the kinds of books she liked. She typed in her favourite author and clicked on Author Read-Alikes. Whoosh, just like that, a whole list of them. She’d heard of three out of the 10. She tried again, with a favourite series of hers, clicking on Series Read-Alikes. Bingo. Then she clicked on a list of “Sweeping and Dramatic Fiction” and found several books that sounded just right for her.

There was one problem, though. A few of the books she found on Novelist weren’t available at the library. She called the library and asked what to do — it was simple, the librarian told her, we’ll just ask other libraries in B.C. to send them to us and let you know when they’ve arrived. These interlibrary loans were also easy to do from Page’s own device at home, it turned out.

Page began to feel increasingly comfortable in Nelson. Things were humming along wonderfully — when all of a sudden her home printer decided it was taking early retirement. She knew there was a printer/copier at the library, but she didn’t know you could send your print job from home and then just show up and release it from the machine. Easy as pie. She didn’t have any coins on her, so she used her card to pay at the main desk.

Page is so happy she moved to Nelson. She loves the mountains and Kootenay Lake — and the people. And yes, she loves the library too.

Avi Silberstein is the Children’s Librarian at the Nelson Public Library. Check This Out runs every other week. If you’re interested in learning more about library programs and services, sign up for our monthly newsletter on our website or by giving us a call.

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