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Kansas City Public Library
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Industry: Public Service

Socket Services: Hosted PBX

Location: Kansas City, Missouri

Website: kclibrary.org



Hosted PBX from Socket was the solution Kansas City Public Library needed for cutting edge telephone service that can integrate its popular dial-a-story service and a call center to answer and seamlessly forward calls to and throughout the library.

Dial-a-story is a service that Kansas City Public Library has had for several decades, explains Melissa Carle, director of information systems at KCPL. The service is still accessed by the same phone number kids and families have called to connect with a story for several decades.

English Language Learner (ELL) classes at KCPL metro branches and community partners use dial-a-story, too. Whether an ELL student, adult, or child, the library recommends following along with the story being read. It’s also “a very low confrontation” for adults who might be uncomfortable letting others know they are learning to read or learn English.

Storytime in libraries is basically a time-honored tradition, “the normal thing libraries have done throughout the years,” she says. But Socket’s let’s-solve-this level of service wasn’t something Carle has experienced previously. “This isn’t anything I’d ever encountered.”

And dial-a-story isn’t just for kids.

“One of the things we’ve found – not all of those calls are from small children,” Carle says. The callers include ELL students of all ages and all walks of life, as well as “populations that might be disenfranchised from their fellow beings – they’re looking for human contact. And as long as Socket’s voice system is up and running, you can call that number.”

Even before Socket was a vendor, Carle was impressed with the company. She and her team traveled to Columbia to meet, and the memory is still vivid.

“Socket had to help us come up with a solution for this,” Carle emphasizes. “They’ve helped us by understanding that this was a service, by understanding the importance of someone being able to remotely access a story being read to them.”

“We’re a public entity. Our contracts like this are a big deal for us,” she says. The library’s board must approve contracts more than $50,000, so the bid process is rigorous. Socket’s response to the request for proposals and the meeting in Columbia certainly got things off on a strong foot.

“I was very impressed with how interested they were in getting it right on day one,” Carle says.

As an information technology pro, Carle was already zeroed in on specifics. For instance, the library occasionally has turnover, adding new staff that needs immediate secure phone and internet access. Carle says Socket’s staff had already created her team’s technology environment.

“I like the fact that I was able to customize with them the solution that made sense to us,” she adds. “They were not our vendor coming into this process. They were our vendor at the end of it.”