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Rochester Public Libraries expand reference services, as pandemic creates new needs

Even with Rochester libraries being closed due to the pandemic, staffers are busy providing services in other ways.

As of Monday,  Rochester Public Libraries are expanding the way that they provide reference services. Previously, that help was provided by phone, email or the library website.  And now, that customer assistance will also be available if you click a ‘chat’ button on the website.

The library system’s Associate Director, Adam Traub, said that among the topics the library can help people with are navigating information about Social Security and the IRS.

“Trying to take advantage of those benefits that the government’s offering but maybe don’t have either the resources available to help them navigate those sites, or haven’t had to do it before. And so we’re really trying to pull together programming that can help our community in this tough time,” Traub said.

Traub said other services the Rochester librarians can help with is information about how to put together a resume and reading and downloading ebooks. He notes that with the pandemic, the use of e-books through the library rose sharply over the last month.

Traub said that with the physical library buildings being closed, staffers have transitioned over to providing online and other services.

“Our librarians are really a phenomenal team and I think they’ve all tried to come together to offer services that are going to be particularly useful to our community members who may find themselves out of work or potentially trying to gear up for a new career,” Traub said.

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.