The word “technical”
comes from the Greek
tekhno, means art or
— and there is
certainly an art to
acquiring all the books,
movies, and music in
the Library’s collection.
Visitors are likely familiar
with the Public Services
staff who help them find the
material they seek, but the
Technical Services staff doesn’t
generally work directly with
customers. They are the busy
workers behind the scenes
who get the material to the shelves and available for the community. They are the folks
who put the “tekhno” in library science.
Situated in a corner of the library surrounded by carts of books – some for
processing, others for repair – is the Technical Services department. This department
of four – Loraine Lamont, Alex Vargo, Mita Sanyal, and Anne Watson – manages every
item at the Library. All material goes through the department, including purchasing
and processing. With more than 168,000 physical items and more than a
million digital items in the collection, processing them is no small task. In
a typical month, the department processes approximately 1,400 items.
“We are happy to know that our work helps connect our community
to the material they need,” says Technical Services Manager Loraine
Lamont. As manager of the department, Lamont oversees the budget and
monitors circulation statistics to ensure the Library is buying what the
community needs and uses.
So how does a book, DVD, or audiobook get to the shelves? Librarians
select material on topics of interest in a variety of formats so they are
accessible to everyone. They read reviews in professional journals and
publisher catalogs and tune in to what’s getting media attention. They also
consider suggestions for purchases from readers via the website form at shakerlibrary.
After the librarians make their selections, Lamont oversees the ordering and works
with vendors on pricing and licensing for both print and electronic media. She serves as
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the liaison between the Library and Cleveland
Public Library to verify that the records in the
CLEVNET catalog are correct and searchable.
In addition, she works at the public service
desk for a few hours every week.
“I enjoy working with the public and
helping people find what they’re looking
for,” says Lamont. “It’s especially helpful for
me to see how people search for items and
to see if we need to make any catalog
adjustments to make searching and
finding easier for them.”
Boxes filled with new materials arrive
every day. They are unpacked, inventoried,
and double-checked to make sure the
orders are correct. The books,
magazines, DVDs, Blu-rays,
audiobooks, and other items
are invoiced and added to the
Library database. All items
require a barcode and call
number so customers can find
them on the shelves. Staff also
keep track of subscription
renewals and the magazine
database to ensure the Library
receives every issue -- a process
Lamont describes as “fighting a many
When problems arise with the library
catalog – an item won’t checkout or renew,
or a hold cannot be placed – Technical
Services staff troubleshoot the issue. Some
items may become damaged from heavy
use, and they, too, are sent to Technical
Services for repair.
Whatever the challenge, Lamont
believes the Library’s Technical Services
department is up to the task. She says she
“couldn’t ask for a better ‘tekhno’ crew.”
The Art of Acquisition:
Connecting the Community
to the Collection
With more than
items and more
than a million
digital items in
is no small task.