Behind Closed Doors Part 1: The Catalogers

There are many little children that visit Topsham Public Library every week. Some are just babies, and some are moving on their own: creeping, crawling, jumping, walking, and running. Some are fast, and some are slow, but once they start moving they make their way to the doorway that leads to the staff offices. They are very curious and want to know what’s going on back there. Well, I’m going to tell you. In the next few weeks, I will highlight various staff members and what their tasks are above and beyond the normal circulation desk duties.

photo-nov-10-10-15-21-amNot everyone gets to see the new items before they are put into circulation, but Helen and Lynne are lucky because they are two of the few who do. When you look into the staff offices and see the shelves full of new stuff, you are looking at Helen and Lynne’s responsibilities.

Helen’s main job is cataloging all items: books, dvds, audio books, graphic novels, and magazines. Cataloging is a specialized task and a cataloger must be a stickler for detail. If something is not cataloged correctly, library staff and patrons alike will not be able to find it. Cataloging is also a way to make sure dvds are listed as dvds and not books and books are not listed as dvds and magazines are not listed as audio books and audio books are not listed as books, etc. To stay on top of cataloging protocol Helen attends or watches the catalog meetings (via the internet) that take place at Maine State Library.

Magazines require some extra attention to ensure subscriptions stay up to date, and that is one of Helen’s tasks. Not just to make sure we are getting what we ordered, but also to make sure that the magazines we get are relevant to our patrons. Helen is also responsible for ordering movies – new releases, movies that are in high demand, plus any other movies the staff thinks is needed. Helen also gives recommendations to Emma, the Adult Services Librarian, of any new horror books coming out. Helen loves horror!

Of all that she does, Helen enjoys cataloging the most because she gets to see all the new items.

Lynne also catalogs, but she is responsible for all the items in the children’s collection. She, too, is meticulous and ensures items are entered into the system correctly so we can find what we want and need.

Lynne is the Circulation Manager. This entails overseeing all the duties at the circulation desk as well as communicating with patrons and other libraries when issues arise, such as damaged or lost items and extra renewal requests.

Have you ever requested an item from another library, and it just never comes? (I’m not talking about new and popular items.) Well, Lynne keeps track of holds and assures that they are fulfilled in a timely fashion by contacting other libraries to let them know a hold is “stuck.” Three to four times a year, Lynne attends circulation meetings to stay on top of issues and new protocols. Any book that has been withdrawn from circulation, Lynne deletes from the cataloging system. She also stays on top of book resources and suggests titles, and she compiles and organizes invoices for book orders.

Lynne also conducts a Reference Survey four times a year and once she has compiled the statistics from that survey, she gives the results to Susan Preece, Director of Topsham Public Library. There is a specific definition of what the reference survey covers and these surveys are mandatory at the state and federal level. These are core statistics that portray how well used our services are.

But her favorite thing to do is to assist Mariah, Children’s Librarian, with the Parent/Child Workshop. These workshops run periodically throughout the year and they bring children, parents, and professionals from local agencies to play and create and spend quality time together. And as Lynne says, “Who wouldn’t love playing with toys and doing crafts with kids?!”