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Behind the Scenes at Columbus Metropolitan Library

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>>WE’RE AT THE OPERATIONS CENTER WHICH IS LOCATED IN GAHANNA AND THIS IS THE TECHNICAL SERVICES DEPARTMENT. THIS IS ALL OF THE MATERIALS THAT END UP ON THE SHELVES AT YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY SO ALL THE BOOKS, ALL THE DVDS, ALL THE BOOKS ON CD, ALL THE MUSIC– IT ALL COMES THROUGH HERE.>>THESE ARE NEW, THESE ARE REPLACEMENTS, THESE ARE YOUR FAVORITE TITLE FROM WHEN YOU WERE A LITTLE KID OR THE HOTTEST BEST SELLER THAT JUST CAME OUT YESTERDAY. OUR GOAL IS THAT IF IT ARRIVES ON MONDAY MORNING, BY WEDNESDAY MORNING IT IS AT A LOCATION READY FOR CUSTOMERS TO USE. WE HAVE A GOAL OF 48 HOUR TURN-AROUND TIME FOR ALL MATERIALS. AND WE HIT THAT FAIRLY REGULARLY.>>48^HOURS IN THE LIBRARY WORLD IS TURN-AROUND TIME FOR A TECH SERVICES DEPARTMENT IS KIND OF UNHEARD OF. WE’RE A LITTLE BIT FAMOUS FOR THAT. ABOUT 10 YEARS AGO, OUR TURN- AROUND TIME WAS MUCH DIFFERENT. WE WERE AT SOMETHING MORE LIKE 17 DAYS. WE SPENT A LOT OF TIME LOOKING AT HOW MANY TIMES DO WE TOUCH AN ITEM, BECAUSE IF WE HAVE 450,000 ITEMS COME THROUGH THE DEPARTMENT, IT MIGHT SEEM LIKE NOT A BIG DEAL TO OPEN THE BOOK–TO PUT THE BARCODE INSIDE OF IT, BUT 450,000^TIMES OVER THE COURSE OF THE YEAR, THAT ADDS UP TO BE A LOT OF TIME. THAT’S PART OF THE REASON WE BROKE UP THE LINE THE WAY WE DID. THAT WE HAVE LABELING, LINKING STYLING SEPARATELY. AT A LOT OF LIBRARIES, STAFF WORK OFF OF CARTS AND YOU TAKE YOUR CART AND YOU GOT TO YOUR CUBICLE AND YOU DO EVERYTHING TO THE ITEM. WHAT WE FOUND, IS THAT IF YOU DIVIDE IT UP AND YOU’RE CONSISTENTLY DOING THE SAME THING OVER AND OVER AGAIN TO THE BOOKS, IT GOES FASTER.>>I’M A SELECTION LIBRARIAN. MY COWORKERS, THERE’S FOUR OF US THAT ARE FULL-TIME THAT DO NOTHING BUT SELECT THE MATERIALS THAT ARE ADDED TO THE LIBRARIES COLLECTION. IT’S AN ART, NOT A SCIENCE. YOU JUST TRY TO MAKE YOUR BEST GUESS OF WHAT IS GONNA APPEAL TO THE WIDEST RANGE OF PEOPLE. THERE’S ABOUT 400,000 TITLES RELEASED IN THE U.S. EVERY YEAR AND THE LIBRARY ADDS ABOUT 30,000. SO, WE ORDER JUST A SMALL PIECE OF THE PIE THAT’S OUT THERE. IN ADDITION TO KEEPING UP WITH THE NEW MATERIALS THAT ARE COMING OUT, IS THAT WE HAVE TO KEEP TRACK OF THE OLD CLASSICS THAT ARE STILL POPULAR AND STILL BEING READ. YOU KNOW, PEOPLE ARE STILL READING “THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK.” THEY’RE STILL READING, THERE’S ALWAYS A NEW GENERATION OF READERS FOR THE DR. SEUSS BOOKS, FOR EXAMPLE. SO, IN ADDITION TO KEEPING TRACK OF THE NEW MATERIALS, WE HAVE TO MAKE SURE THAT WE HAVE FRESH LOOKING COPIES OF THE OLD MATERIALS THAT ARE STILL IN DEMAND.>>I DO A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING. I WORK AT THE UNPACKING STATION, MOSTLY I’M AT DISTRIBUTION SENDING THE BOOKS OUT TO THE BRANCHES. BUT, I WORK ALL THE STATIONS IN BETWEEN, TOO, AND TAKE ON SPECIAL PROJECTS. THIS IS THE LABELING STATION WHERE WE APPLY THE BARCODES TO THE BOOKS. UH, WE PUT ON NEW STICKERS WHICH INDICATES WHICH MONTH THEY ARRIVE HERE IF THAT’S INDICATED ON THE FORM. ANY REFERENCE MATERIALS GET ADDITIONAL REFERENCE STICKERS AND ELECTRONIC THINGS STUCK IN THEM. THEN, WE SEND THEM ON DOWN TO LINKING WHERE THE BARCODES ARE LINKED INTO THE SYSTEM.>>TO BE A SORTER, IT MEANS WE DISTRIBUTE ALL THE BOOKS FOR THE COLUMBUS METROPOLITAN LIBRARY AND PARTNER BRANCHES. THEY COME FROM ALL OVER THE SYSTEM. WE HAVE A FLOATING COLLECTION, SO ALL BOOKS THAT ARE IN TRANSIT COME TO US. SO, AND THAT’S, WE SORT EVERYTHING. WE ARE A BIT OF AN UNSUNG HERO BECAUSE PEOPLE ABSOLUTELY HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THEIR BOOKS COME FROM. EVEN PEOPLE FROM WITHIN THE SYSTEM DON’T HAVE ANY SORT OF CLUE WHERE, OR HOW THINGS OPERATE WITHIN THE SYSTEM AND TRANSPORTATION IS A BACKBONE OF THE SYSTEM. ABSOLUTELY, IT’S BACKBONE.>>SO, IN THE AFTERNOON, YOU KNOW, WE SHUT DOWN AND ALL THE THINGS THAT WE HAVE SENT DURING THE DAY OUT TO OUR TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT ARE IN STACKS–BIG, HUGE PILES OF BOXES. AND THEY ARE LOADING THOSE ONTO TRUCKS AND DOING DELIVERY ROUTES TO ALL OF OUR “CML” LOCATIONS AND THEN ALL OF OUR CENTRAL LIBRARY CONSORTIUM PARTNER LIBRARIES.>>AND DRIVERS ARE DRIVING ALL NIGHT, EVERY NIGHT TO BE SURE THAT MATERIALS ARE TURNED AROUND QUICKLY, WHICH GOES BACK TO THAT DESIRE TO HAVE THINGS TURNED AROUND IN 48 HOURS FOR RESERVES.>>I THINK THERE IS THIS INTERESTING THING HAPPENING RIGHT NOW, WHERE CUSTOMERS ARE STILL READING A LOT OF PRINT. THERE ARE STILL THE LUDDITES LIKE ME WHO, YOU HAVE TO PRY IT OUT MY COLD, DEAD HAND. BUT THERE’S ALSO A LOT OF PEOPLE WHO LOVE THEIR E. I MEAN, TO BE ABLE TO LOAD 10 BOOKS ON MY IPAD AND TAKE IT ON VACATION WITH ME IS TREMENDOUS. BUT WE ARE STILL SEEING A HUGE AMOUNT OF MATERIALS COME THROUGH THIS DEPARTMENT.E I MEAN, 450,000 ITEMS A YEAR IS A LOT THAT ARE GOING OUT INTO OUR LOCATIONS. SO, I THINK WE ARE DEVELOPING THIS BALANCE RIGHT NOW AND WE’RE NOT SURE WHERE IT’S GOING TO GO, BUT WE STILL SEE A LOT OF PRINT AND A LOT OF DEMAND FOR PRINT.

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