Mystery Packs have quick turnaround time at KFPL

When the staff at Kingston Frontenac Public Library (KFPL) reached out to me to share about their new Mystery Packs, I knew it was something I wanted to write about on my blog.

Being an avid reader, I love wandering through the library picking out books at random and reading the cover synopses. I am terrible at making the actual decision of what to read, but the browsing is half the fun. Now that the library branches are closed, I don’t take books out nearly as often because I don’t want to browse the online catalogue and make half-assed decisions.

The beauty of the library is knowing I can check out any books and just take them back if they aren’t to my liking, but I have a compulsion to read books through to the end, whether I’m enjoying them or not. The Mystery Packs won’t solve this dilemma for me, but it takes away the “I chose this book to read” feeling, because library staff choose the books for these packs.

“We really wanted to get this service out to our community because of the provincial lockdown,” Nichole Charles, director of Branch Experience, told me in an email. “The serendipitous find is a big part of what people love about coming to the library. We’ve tried to simulate that with Mystery Packs!”

But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

What are Mystery Packs?

Mystery Packs are a loosely curated collection of books inside a category. The library staff will choose selections from your category of choice, and check them out for you to pick up at your branch. For now, branches are operating with curbside pickup, but the packs will remain an option once the library branches reopen for in-person services.

You can view the categories and reserve your Mystery Pack here: https://www.kfpl.ca/

I requested one on Tuesday, Jan 12, 2021, to pick up at my local branch. Our branch is only open for curbside pickup on Mondays and Fridays, but I stick with it because it’s a great excuse to get a walk in during the school- and work-day hours.

On Friday, Jan 15, 2021, I received the call that my pack was ready, and to my surprise the library staff member also told me Emma’s pack was ready to pick up too. I didn’t even know she had requested one!

I chose the Fiction genre, because I have been reading a lot of horror and sci-fi recently, and was hoping for a change. Emma picked Junior Fiction and proceeded to spend half an hour reading when we got home.

Her only critique of the system was that one of her three books was from a series, and it was not the first book. “Mom! Why would start with book four?” I told her to give it a try and if she likes it she can look for the first book and start over.

I chose the five book option, now that there are no fees for returning books past their due date. They all look interesting, and I plan to put some serious effort into reading them before the library thinks they’re “lost or stolen”.

After the first week providing Mystery Packs to their patrons, I asked the KFPL staff how it’s going.

“The first day we launched the service (January 11) we received 35 requests!” Charles excitedly shared. “For our first week (Jan 11-15) we’ve received 188 requests.”

Charles said the top 3 Genres so far are Mystery, Children’s Picture Books, and Fiction.

“Turnaround time is usually fairly quick,” she continued. “If the branch is open, staff are often able to fill the requests within a day or two, and they are really enjoying filling the Mystery Packs for our customers!”

To order your own Mystery Pack for curbside pick up, visit https://www.kfpl.ca/

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have some reading to do.

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