Ever wonder how your favorite book reaches the Library shelf?
It may seem like magic, but most Toledo Library materials first make their way through Technical Services. About 20 people work in the department to ensure all new materials get out the door and into customers’ hands as soon as possible!
Technical Services provides ongoing maintenance to the Library’s collection. This includes all physical materials like books and DVDs, eMedia like Overdrive (Libby app) and Flipster, databases, the library catalog and more. New material is selected, purchased, invoiced, cataloged, processed and prepared for distribution. Older material is maintained, repaired and replaced. Electronic resources are monitored and updated as needed. Just as our Library transforms to better serve customers, Technical Services adapts to ensure processes and workflows behind the scenes keep up with the Library’s fast-paced, public-facing side.
Among the most notable changes occurred in the early 1990s, with removal of card catalogs and introduction of the online catalog. These cards stopped being filed during the late ’80s. By the 2000s, the card catalog and its many drawers were removed for library system use. No worries though, all information from each card went straight to the online version. Keep an eye out, and you may still see a card catalog drawer repurposed for use in our 21st century Library.
From Paper to Computers
We may not think twice about using a computer, tablet or smartphone to check for Library materials. Before computers, however, much of Technical Services’ work took place on paper. Check out these tools staff used to find and update materials.
The first is an accession book, in which newly purchased material would be added along with information such as author, title, publisher, number of volumes and a uniquely assigned number. Second are cards similar to those in the card catalog, but used as an index. Need a book about Saint Anne with the Christ Child? Its index card will show what book and page number to look up for more information. The last tool is a Cutter-Sanborn tables, which cataloging staff used to assign cutters after Dewey numbers on nonfiction books. Who would have guessed those three little letters after the call number could be so difficult to determine?
Technical Services – Our room
Less noticeable to the public, but a definite change of scenery for staff, was relocation of the Technical Services room. As Main Library transformed into the configuration we use today, Technical Services moved from the original Main building – where the children’s theater room is presently located – to the mezzanine level. It sits alongside Marketing and IT after the 2001 Main renovations.
Unsurprisingly, new processes and workflows affected the configuration of space in our room. Only a few years ago, Technical Services cubicles were organized differently to optimize a circular travel pattern for material around the room. Not too much different, as there are still boxes as far as the eye can see!