Showcase – Sacramento Public Library

Library Showcase

Sacramento Public Library

Sacramento Public Library (SPL) is a 28 branch library system serving 995 square miles in the greater Sacramento, CA area. SPL has 656,423 Card holders who visited the library 4.1 million times last year circulating over 7.3 million items.

At the 2020 PLA conference, SPL was awarded Library Journal’s inaugural Jerry Kline Community Impact Prize for delivering on “engagement with civic partners on civic priorities, and with community members in bubbling up ideas for the library to answer their needs”.

Sacramento Public Library has partnered with Unique since 1996 beginning with our Gentle Nudge Material Recovery Service and has since added Unique Patron Services, UniqueChat, MessageBee, and Curbside Communicator, from our repertoire of service to public libraries.

Virtual Library Support


The mission at Sacramento Public Library is to be an essential resource for their communities, inspiring discovery, learning, and growth.  Being an essential resource means providing great service to all library patrons – both in-person and online.

One area of need was the library’s website – The site features 360,000 visitors annually and SPL’s virtual library includes access to over 50 online resources including ebooks, magazines, research tools, and family activities. The library wanted to be able to provide excellent customer service to these online patrons with convenient and easy for the patron.

One issue was that their highly trained librarians were often overwhelmed with generic phone requests; so those questions that required skilled responses often had a long delays before they could be addressed.


SPL considered many options for this challenge and ultimately chose several Unique services to enhance their internal patron service options. For example, SPL began routing their general circulation calls to Unique  which allowed their team to focus on serving patrons in the library along with answering higher level reference calls for which  librarians provide so much value.

Sacramento Public Library also initiated  UniqueChat, an online chat widget hosted by Unique and available to SPL patrons across all pages of their virtual library and website. This widget provides a simple but extremely effective way for virtual patrons to get the support they need in real time, right on the page they are visiting either via their computer or mobile device.

“Having the chat feature present on our website and catalog has facilitated interactions to a whole new set of users! Unique has provided us an access point that customers increasingly expect to have and the feedback from customers has been overwhelmingly positive!”

Ashley Trew, Public Services Manager


In the last 12 months, Unique has answered over 100,000 chat and phone interactions for Sacramento Public Library. As patrons shifted to more virtual service during the COVID-19 Pandemic, chat interactions became increasingly popular. Live chat use is up 44.2% when comparing the 3rd Quarter 2020 to the same period last year.

Chat Responses: 34,140

Calls Answered: 78,447

Patron Satisfaction: 91%

Not only has Unique Patron Service Phone Support and UniqueChat made life easier for Sacramento Public Library and increased efficiency, patrons are loving the support as well. SPL patrons rate Unique with a 91% satisfaction score via a post chat survey with over 21 perfect 5-star reviews for every one negative piece of patron feedback.

How can Unique help your library be an essential resource?

Unique streamlines library processes allowing your staff to stretch and provide service like never before. See how today by starting with a quick, no-risk discussion with our team.

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Curbside Hold Pick-up via Curbside Communicator


Like all libraries, Sacramento Public Library had to quickly re-think their entire service model with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. SPL had to close their doors in mid- March being one of the early effected areas in the country. As they strategized their re-opening process, curbside hold pick-up was the logical first step. SPL initially provided this service via a process of scheduling pickup times.  However, this proved cumbersome if appointments had to be cancelled or rescheduled and did not offer patrons much flexibility.


For their curbside hold pick-up challenge, SPL implemented Unique’s Curbside Communicator product.

Curbside Communicator lets Library staff communicate with patrons via their mobile device to facilitate a safe and seamless curbside hold pick-up process. For the two-way text communication, the circulation desk logs into the Curbside Communicator website to receive and respond to the patron messages so staff does not have to use personal or library purchased cell phones creating a safe and efficient curbside experience for all. How it works:


Sacramento Public Library is processing over 24,000 transactions per month using Curbside Communicator. Additionally, the data provided from the process allows SPL to monitor usage and better manage their curbside hold pick-up process. SPL learned that pick-up usage peaks in the afternoon with Friday and Saturday being their most popular days of the weeks.

Armed with this data, Sacramento Public Library was able to adjust staffing and internal responsibilities on a location by location basis to best serve their patrons.

Reopen with Confidence

See a Curbside Communicator demonstration to see how your library can effectively start back with limited curbside hold service.

Patron Database Clean-up via Unique Data Services


Sacramento Public Library reported that their ILS database was “a hot mess of mis-spellings, incomplete or inaccurate address info, etc.” The library was looking for a service to help clean-up these inaccuracies in an automated way so that their patron data remained clean and their ILS updated with the most accurate, standardized information.


Sacramento Public Library employed Unique to verify and standardize their patron data. The library securely exported their patron addresses to Unique where there were verified and corrected though Unique processes. SPL then received the corrected file back and uploaded into the ILS using patron ID as a match.


Unique’s data service processes were able to find 45,586 new patron addresses for a 14% hit rate. Unique also cleaned the data, returning it in a standardized format that SPL was able to upload to their ILS software.

New Addresses: 45,586

New Address Rate: 14%

How can Unique help keep your data up-to-date?

Use Unique’s expertise and tools to supplement your staff and IT infrastructure. Contact us and share your challenges with data and see how Unique can help make a difference for your library.

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