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At the Library: Not sure what to read? Let the library choose!

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stack of books

Hi everyone! Krystal here, with a quick story: Several weeks before restaurants reopened for dine-in service, and several weeks after my meal-planning had devolved into a school cafeteria-style rotation of dinner standbys, I gave in to the hype and signed up for a meal delivery service.

You know the ones I mean: You fill out an online questionnaire about your culinary likes and dislikes, and the meal company ships a box of preportioned ingredients and cooking instructions straight to your doorstep.

I won’t lie; I definitely had conflicted feelings about the whole thing: on one hand, I love to cook (and am embarrassingly picky about my produce), so giving up control in that regard felt … odd.

But on the other hand, it was definitely convenient to not be forced to purchase an entire jar of sun-dried tomato pesto, for example, for a recipe that only called for 2 tablespoons of the stuff.

And even though I’ve ended up pausing the service for the time being, there’s still a lot to be said for the ability to enjoy a home-cooked, restaurant-style meal with much of the footwork already done for me.

Here at Yakima Valley Libraries, we’re dedicated to providing you with similarly convenient services and resources, especially while our buildings are closed.

So, to that end, I’ll hand the remainder of this week’s column off to Heather VanTassell, one of our managing librarians, who will highlight our latest patron-focused endeavor:

We’re well aware that one of the great joys of visiting the library is being able to browse the shelves and serendipitously discover a new, soon-to-be favorite book or movie.

While we aren’t yet able to allow patrons into our buildings, we know how much many of you miss the freedom to browse; that’s why we are excited to offer you a similar experience with our new service: Personalized Picks.

Personalized Picks provides you with a bundle of five books and/or movies that are hand-selected just for you by library staff, based on the genres and topics that you enjoy. The service is perfect for those times when you aren’t sure exactly which book you want to read or movie you want to watch, but you know what genre you’re searching for.

It is our hope that you discover a new favorite author or a title that you might not have found just by browsing our online catalog on your own.

So how does this service work?

Visit the Personalized Picks webpage ( and fill out a short form. You can request children, teen or adult materials, and then choose among options, including your preferred format (books, audiobooks, DVDs and CDs are available), and the various genres you would like to read.

You can even request a picture book bundle, which contains 10 picture books that we’ll select based on the topics that you and your child(ren) like to read together.

There’s even a section at the bottom of the form where you can tell us the types of books you like, or the one’s you definitely dislike, in order to help us make the best selections for you.

Oh, and if you prefer to chat with a library staff person (instead of using the online form), you can call your preferred community library and staff will fill out the Personalized Picks questionnaire for you, then move forward with the selection process as usual.

Once library staff have made your personalized selections, all of the items will be placed on hold on your account, and will be held at your preferred pickup library.

We’ll then notify you that your bundle is ready. Picking up your items is easy with our contact-free pickup service. Simply schedule an appointment online ( or by phone, and we will have your items ready for you.

• Krystal Corbray is programming and marketing librarian and Heather VanTassell is a managing librarian for Yakima Valley Libraries. Learn more at

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