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Thursday, November 29, 2018

College Hill Library revamps tech services to get new arrivals onto the shelf faster

College Hill Library revamps tech services to get new arrivals onto the shelf faster

“My team was overwhelmed,” said Library Technical Services Coordinator Cecilia Hem Lee. Lee’s team of eight College Hill Library employees receive approximately 30,000 new items a year to add to the library’s catalog and shelves and the 8-12 month backlog was a serious problem. Enter Lee and her four part plan to revamp the technical services division and bring the backlog down to 8-10 weeks.

The eight person College Hill Library Technical Services division orders and processes new materials ranging from books to DVDs to audiobooks and more. The volume of new materials coming in and the inefficient processes made it very difficult to get the items into the catalog system, tagged with a spine sticker and on the shelf in a timely manner.

“Materials are delivered to the library’s dock, unboxed and put on shelves for processing,” said Lee. “City employees would then take them off the shelf several times to input them in the online catalog, affix a spine tag and genre sticker, and then put onto the shelves for patrons to check out.”

The library subscribed to a database service, which helped staff when putting a new item into the catalog, but lots of information still needed entering by hand. Also, the spine tags were not standard across all types of materials with over 20 different ones being used. In addition, the workspace in Technical Services was inefficient with employees moving back and forth to staging bookshelves several times per item.

“We tackled all these processes in a four part plan: use new cataloging software, simplify the spine tags, use book carts in our area instead of bookshelves and improve the physical flow in our workspace,” said Lee.

The cataloging software now in use comes from the Online Computer Library Center, which many libraries contribute information to and uses a standard template for all materials. The new spine tags are standardized across all types of media and are printed using a Zebra printer.

“We used to have a Microsoft Word document of labels and would only print out new ones when the sheet was full, which slowed down getting materials into circulation,” said Lee. “With the Zebra printers, we can print labels as needed and can redo a whole book series’ labels when a new volume arrives. We don’t use the genre stickers anymore, so staff put a bunch of old ones onto a tissue box for me.”

Lee and staff now use book carts to make the processing more efficient. The books can be wheeled to an employee’s workspace for processing and then rolled out to the bookshelves saving time and potential injury from the previous repetitive motions of taking books off and putting them on bookshelves for hours at a time.

Dismantling the large bookshelves and improving the employee’s workspaces was finished at the end of October and staff saved money by completing it all in-house without outsourcing any part of the massive project.

“I’m proud of Cecilia and her team for her accomplishments and her confidence that it would get done,” said Library Services Manager J.R. Clanton. “We can now confidently spend allocated grant money to purchase new materials and know the Technical Services staff will get them on the shelf quickly.”

“My team does an amazing job keeping our finger on the pulse on College Hill Library’s 300,000 item collection,” said Lee. “These new processes help make the library an efficient one from delivery to shelf.”

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