A library functions through the coordination of different departments working together, much like the parts of a body. If your Library was a body, the Technical Services department would be its heart. All the items that make the Library what it is—a vibrant hub for learning and entertainment—flow through Technical Services and are pumped throughout the whole building. Materials flow back to Technical Services when they need mending or cleaning, and old items are sent out from Technical Services when they’re no longer usable. The department’s work is both essential and rarely seen by the public.
We hardly ever stop to imagine the invisible work of our beating hearts—constantly pumping to keep us alive, moving, and adapting to our ever-changing environment. This is the case for Technical Services, too. The department is constantly ordering and receiving new materials (called “acquisition” in library lingo), categorizing and tagging items (“cataloging”), and adding them to the Library’s online search engine (the “catalog”). The department then sends these materials out to the Adult, Circulation, Teen, and Youth departments.
The Library’s Cataloging Specialist, Juniper Starr, says, “People think our jobs are boring, but they aren’t at all!”
Juniper’s job of cataloging items goes way beyond simply inputting a book’s name and author into the system. Juniper says, “I’m always learning, always finding new ways to represent materials to the public.” She determines the “distinct personality” of every book, and decides what keywords, subject headings, and categories best describe items. If you’ve ever searched our catalog, you’ve seen Juniper’s work. She is our users’ invisible guide to the materials they check out.
Linda Holbrook started working at the Library in 1991 and filled different roles in Technical Services throughout the years. She is currently the Technical Services Assistant working with Juniper as a cataloger, coordinating the department’s volunteers, and overseeing the mending and removing of materials from the collection. She also moves new books to their more permanent homes after their first 4-6 months in the collection. Linda sees what Technical Services does as “the beginning of the whole patron experience. It starts with us, and then expands out and takes the whole team, everybody in our Library.” She finds working with our volunteers, who are indispensable to the department’s work, especially rewarding.
If you’ve ever requested that a book be added to the Library’s collection, chances are that order was fulfilled by Danny Bartlett, the Library’s acquisition specialist. He’s in charge of finding requested materials and placing orders with vendors. Danny not only orders individual requests. He also tracks down and orders all the materials that the other departments want to add to their collections. Danny says that he has learned to put aside his own personal interests and work hard to find what others want. His favorite part of the job is “the excitement of seeing new books come in, and especially the sense of satisfaction I get from being able to provide patrons with the specific books they request.”
Almost every book, DVD, magazine, and newspaper that comes into the Library lands on the desk of Acquisitions and Serial Clerk Michael Evanochko. He has the huge job of adding RFID (“Radio Frequency ID”) tags to every book, which programs them to work with the Automated Materials Handler (AMH). This programming links the item with its barcode so it can be tracked throughout its whole life at the Library. Michael makes sure all items are labeled correctly, accounted for, and get where they need to go. He loves detail-oriented work and describes his job as one where “there are no shortcuts, no autopilot. My mind has to stay alert and active, because little mistakes can create a lot of confusion later.”
Technical Services Manager David Ownby appreciates the continual adaptation and learning that occurs in his department. He says, “The name ‘technical services’ is old and comes from the earliest efforts to automate libraries.” While the name stayed the same, the department has changed along with the Library to ensure our community can access any sort of information it wants—print or electronic. David says, “We work and learn so that the Library continues to be a place where everyone can find what they want, whether they are here at the Library or looking at our collection from home or on their phones.”
To access our catalog and learn about our print and electronic collections, visit www.jcpl.org. You can also call us at (423) 434-4450, drop by 100 West Millard Street, and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.