Under the supervision of Access Services Librarian, Sherri Eskridge, Week 9 was served in public service areas of serials and the busy circulation desk. Another day was also spent with Web Services Librarian, Wendy Crist.
I requested another day with Web services because of the many different duties that Crist has as Web services librarian. During my previous day with Wendy, we spent much time updating ebook databases. All databases are not necessarily delivered in a nice neat package and bow, therefore much maintenance is needed for different databases. This week, however, Crist showed me more of the Web maintenance that can be quite time consuming as well.
The library’s Web site http://www.library.astate.edu/ as well as all of the campus Web sites are part of a master template, all with a similar look and architecture. Converting the past library Web site to the current campus template was/is quite a project and leaves the library with very little control over the design of its site. Even as we worked this week, Crist found areas of the site that had not been converted (for unknown reason – probably because of the magnitude of one person completing the project). Additionally, faculty and other campus departments have no control of their site publication and Crist has been assigned to preview, approve, and publish several other campus sites as well as the library’s site. Needless to say, most campus Web participants are still out-to-vote on the new template and publication procedures, especially faculty who wish immediate publication of their course assignments and resources.
Some OPAC maintenance also falls under the jurisdiction of Web Services. This day Crist’s project was to add “reviews and more” or page excerpts (similar to Amazon.com’s “Look Inside” feature.) Many items in the catalog already feature the paid (purchased or leased?) thumbnail of the book jacket, therefore Crist set out to add the Look Inside feature. However, instructions for the company that provides the thumbnails did not appear to work as directed. Crist searched several Wikis, blogs, and email communications to solve this problem. Here again, research is time consuming before the actual project could be implemented.
Serials is another area of high maintenance. Periodicals require at least monthly updates of current issues. The more “pleasure reading” type magazines and newspapers are kept current in the “sun porch” reading area. Current editions of journals are filed in the stacks with past issues of that title. Daily processing of print holdings takes a good part of each morning from the mail room, to sorting, stamping, receiving into Voyager, and filing in the stacks. Copies of some titles are kept in the stack back to 1980. Pre-1980 journals are kept in storage, but that storage area has been reallocated to another campus department. Therefore, pre-1980 journals are in the processes of being weeded and/or moved to other locations in the library. This is a “sore” subject among the librarians – having to give up valuable library space.
New titles are ordered by the Acquisitions Department, but the Serials Department actually catalogs and adds the item to the Voyager catalog. Keeping up with issues not received then reporting same to the serials vendor is a full time job as is collecting journals for binding. Record keeping requires notation on a card filing system of issues sent to and returned from the boundary. Voyager is also updated for unavailable issues. As with all the public services departments, statistics notated throughout the day, especially for journal usage and public inquiries.
Circulation is a very busy department. Because library policy allows for free printing of one copy of academic items, circulation workers spend much time retrieving from the printer and handing items to the patrons. Circulation activity requires several student workers, full time employees, two supervisors and a professional librarian. The “circ” area is responsible for the library’s telephone switchboard, photocopiers, printers, charge/discharge of items, reserves, as well as greeting the patrons. A sub-department is Stack Maintenance which is headed by a long time employee whom everyone favors because of his knowledge of the stacks. Eugene has a reputation for locating mis-shelved items in the stacks. He supervises several students who shelve and reshelve items throughout the day. The stacks are located over three floors, so a book cart system is arranged for reshelving items by the floor. I found it interesting that items on the floors needed reshelving are brought back to circulation, counted, placed on a cart, and then re-shelved. It seems simpler to count those items at each floor, but Eugene assures me that years of experience have decided this is the best method for keeping those usage statistics. I believe him.
Administration of overdue fines and notation to patron records for payments, forgiveness, or lost item is among the duties of the supervisor. However, fine collection will soon no longer be a part of the circulation department, but that of student services. Fines will be charged to student accounts. Patrons may not approve of this transition, but Circ is looking forward to be relieved of this cash-handling responsibility. With the new system, patrons must communicate with two different campus departments to clear their accounts. Hopefully, this will simplify rather than complicate this aspect of patron services.
Statistics are a big part of circulation duties. Standard circulation reports are printed each morning. It is important to note, that library policy does not allow for the history of patron charges so that user privacy is not breached. Statistics (by tally) are kept of all in-person, telephone, or email contacts and queries, and printouts throughout the day.