This obtuse headline captures the two reasons for this article. In this piece I will both formally introduce the new Head of Circulation at Nottingham’s Blaisdell Memorial Library, Dan Bunker, and showcase what he and the library are doing in the face of the now over-year-long COVID-19 social distancing health crisis. To do so, this reporter sat down with Dan Bunker at the library on Friday morning, April 30, 2021. Both of us were masked and sat more than 6 feet apart. Spoiler alert, even though his gray face mask Dan was able to display a warm smile.
Dan Bunker became the library’s Head of Circulation in March 2020. He came to that position through intertwining twin paths. One path was via his accepting a position as the Technical Services Assistant at the library in April 2017. The other route was through his work with Nottingham youth at its Elementary School. He began there as an assistant coach in recreational basketball for 3rd and 4th graders. Bunker did that position while he was attending high school himself. This beginning led to his becoming a paraprofessional at the school while he was in college. As a paraprofessional, he assisted students, worked alongside teachers, and helped students meet their accommodations in their Individual Education Plans (IEP). Along with that, he also served there as the head coach in both cross country and basketball as well as assistant coach in baseball. Dan has an Associate’s Degree from the New Hampshire Technical Institution (NHTI) in Concord. Dan was born on a small farm in Northwood where his mother is the town’s library director and his father a carpenter. Books, libraries, helping people and things to grow are a part of his DNA.
I then asked him to describe his job as the Head of Circulation. It is multi-faceted position. And, by looking at his many jobs. This also illustrates many of the programs that have been undertaken by the library to serve Nottingham during the pandemic. One of his primary duties is getting new books and DVDs ready for the shelf and an eager public. The library receives approximately 100 new items a month. He wraps each book with a plastic cover and places a material code (aka barcode) on each. Then, he puts a spine label on each book. This label helps library users find an item on the shelf. Next, he enters the book and its information into the library’s online catalog. This catalog allows library users to search for it via the computer. The online system is not only used by Nottingham patrons but is also linked to the New Hampshire statewide Interlibrary Loan program (ILL). Through the ILL system books are shared throughout the state. There are deliveries and pick-ups of ILL items by a van service, which are run by the state library, twice a week.
Dan went on to talk about his major role in the many of the library’s outreach programs. This includes the “Grab and Go Books” program. These are books placed on reserve by library users. When the librarian runs the morning reserve lists, the books are pulled, checked out to the patron reserving them, put in a bag and labelled for later pick-up. In this way, people can spend minimal time in the library and still checkout books. For those who wish not come into the library, the bagged requested books out for pick-up on the front porch. This is another adaptation to the pandemic. Dan spoke of his role in the Virtual Story Time and its Grab and Go Kits, He offered this example. Every month Miss Robin reads several stories on a certain theme. For April 2021, it was turtles and was called “Turtle Storytime.”
Dan films each live show, which are from 20 to 30 minutes long. When the filming is finished, he then trims and links the show to the library’s website. The children’s librarian prepares a Grab and Go Kit for that story time production. All these kits are “advertised” on the library’s homepage. The article’s picture shows the Turtle Storytime’s Grab and Go Kit.
Dan also maintains the library’s website and is involved with still other programs. Working with the Nottingham Recreation Department, he is preparing programming for the summer camp as well as building its "mobile library." The "mobile library" consists of books that can remain at the camp for the enjoyment of the campers. He is also working on Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) program. And he was quick to add that STEM program has been expanded to be STEAM program in which now includes an A for Arts.
His motto is “there is always a book for whatever is your interest” and he closes with “I am delighted to be part of the warm, welcoming Nottingham community”. Welcome Dan and thanks library for all you do in the pandemic.