Check Out Sneezle Packs at River Forest Public Library

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by Christina Stoll, MLS

Originally published in the Metropolitan Library System’s MLS E-nnounce on February 3, 2010 in vol. 4, iss. 3

Sue Quinn, Head of Children's Services describes the River Forest Public Library as a small town library serving a community where the library staff know many of the residents on a first name basis.  Serving around 12,000 residents, the River Forest Library is located approximately 10 miles west of Chicago. Their tag line is “Check out the World from Here”. 
One unique very personal service offered within the Children’s department is called Sneezle Packs.  This is not a new service, for the library has been offering this for over 7 years, yet with the increase of attention given to the flu, the library staff saw a need they were already filling and stepped up their promotion of the service.

The service works when a caregiver calls the library and requests a Sneezle Pack.  A reader’s advisory reference interview is conducted by one of the library staff in the children’s department. Questions about the child’s age, interest and types of materials such as books or AV are asked. The library staff member then takes this information and creates a Sneezle Pack, typically made up of 3-4 books, a DVD, and an activity such as a coloring sheet or word game. The items are place inside one of the library’s bags, and a Sneezle Pack tag is attached.  The bag is then placed at the circulation desk for the patron to check out. The purpose of the Sneezle Pack tag is to alert the library staff upon return of the bag that the items inside need to be cleaned with disinfectant wipes.
The idea for Sneezle Packs resulted from a need which the library staff indentified among the parents and caregivers in their community, that not everyone has a support system at home when their child gets sick. The library staff realize that when a child gets sick, life can get hard.  The library staff saw this service as being a good community member.
A low cost service, the Sneezle Packs involve the staff within the Children’s department conducting Reader’s Advisory Reference interviews and then gathering the materials. Library bags are use for the transportation of the packs and the only small cost is for the additional activity or item purchased from Oriental Trading Company that goes into the pack.
The service is open to kids up to 8th grade, the average users being 8 years and younger.  The only change to the service that the library staff have seen since its start has been more DVD and audio book requests versus print materials. Except for the rare request where staff are only given a few minutes to fill the order and not always able to locate the child’s top picks, the service continues to run smoothly.  
The communities’ response to the service has been very positive, contributing to the world of mouth marketing as one parent recommends the service to another.  The library also promotes the service with press releases and in-house flyers they hand out to families. See a sample flyer (PDF).
The library staff see Sneezle Packs as another opportunity to connect with their library users on a personal level.  Sneezle Packs are just one of the many services that the family friendly River Forest Public Library is known for.
Questions about this article or the Sneezle Packs can be emailed to Sue Quinn at