You are looking for a particular title. You search for it in the library’s computerized card catalog, find it listed there and make note of its location and call number. You then proceed to the area of the library where the item is located.
A simple process that is repeated hundreds of times daily at MRL. But, did you ever stop to consider what it takes to make sure that the item is correctly identified in the catalog and labeled so that it can be shelved in its proper location? Or that the computer system must be constantly updated and maintained to provide the correct information? What about repairing or withdrawing books and other materials that are returned damaged or simply begin to fall apart due to wear and tear? All of these responsibilities fall under the umbrella of Technical Services.
Technical Services staff are the behind-the-scenes people who provide the books, videos, CDs, cassettes,
magazines, and other materials found at the library; we provide the essential services which make it possible for Morrisson-Reeves Library to acquire,
access, and keep track of all library materials. We also strive to make sure that these materials are described and organized so that you can
find them. Technical Services is largely responsible for the “health and well-being” of the library’s collections and catalog; without this department,
the more public operations of the library would grind to a complete halt.
Here’s what we do to get materials ready for use:
- Selectors from various departments in the library submit orders for new materials. In most instances, acquisitions staff locate matching records for these materials in the international bibliographic database known as OCLC and transfer these records to our local computer system, called DYNIX. From these records, staff generate purchase orders for the titles and quantities requested by the selectors; these orders are then sent to various vendors, usually electronically. When new materials are received from a vendor, they are unpacked and checked against the order and the vendor’s invoice; once the invoice is approved, it is sent on to the bookkeeper for payment. Acquisitions staff also keep a close eye on the library’s budget for new materials to make certain that it is not overspent.
- Once obtained, each new item must be added to its appropriate collection. Each item is checked against its OCLC bibliographic record to make sure that it is described accurately, and corrections are made to those records, when appropriate. In some cases, there is no matching record in the OCLC database, and a new record must be created by cataloging staff. Next, a classification, or call, number is assigned to the item, which determines where the item will be located on the library’s shelves. A unique barcode label is also placed on each item and the number is scanned into the DYNIX system; this barcode number will be used to identify the item in all future transactions. Finally, labels for each item are printed, again making use of the OCLC database.
- Now the new materials are ready for the stage known as processing. At this point, each item is marked to identify that it belongs to the library; the printed labels are put on to show where the item should be shelved, and a protective jacket or case may be added to help protect the item from wear and tear. Once all of this is completed, materials are ready to be delivered to their appropriate departments to be used by the public.
- Another responsibility of Technical Services staff is to maintain records for the library’s over 500 periodical (magazine and newspaper) subscriptions. This includes checking in every issue on the DYNIX system, making sure that we have received the correct item, sending claims when an issue is not received, stamping and labeling each issue, and putting the new issues out for the public to read. Keeping accurate records of subscription expirations and renewals is also very important.
- Besides adding new items, Technical Services staff are also responsible for mending worn and damaged material, when possible. Older materials that are worn beyond mending and cannot be replaced may also be sent to the Heckman Bindery in North Manchester, Indiana for rebinding or other special treatment. Older issues of magazines and newspapers, as well as other items that are being withdrawn from the library collections because they are unused, worn out, lost, or damaged beyond repair must also be handled by Technical Services in order to be removed from the DYNIX system. Items that have been withdrawn because they were lost or missing, and have subsequently been recovered may also need to be reinstated on the DYNIX system.
- Archives and Special Collections:
- Technical Services staff frequently work on projects to catalog special materials or collections for the library. The library’s Archivist is a member of the Technical Services staff, and she is responsible for organizing and maintaining the library’s own historical records as well as any other special collections. She also contributes the local and library history portions of the MRL website, and is largely responsible for the material that appears on the library’s digital collections website. You can contact the Archivist by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Individuals and organizations often donate funds to the library to purchase materials in memory of a deceased friend or loved one. Although the actual selection of memorial material is handled by staff from public service departments, Technical Services staff order and catalog these materials and add a special bookplate denoting the donor and the person being remembered.
You can reach Sarah Morey, Technical Services Manager, by e-mail at: email@example.com