Library Technical Services

There is a part of the library system in
Plano that the public rarely sees but without it the libraries wouldn’t be
able to function. The library technical services department exists to make sure
that the books are purchased, vendors are paid, broken materials are repaired,
interlibrary loans are completed and that all items are available for
checkout by library patrons. Most of what this department does falls into one of
three categories: acquisitions, cataloging, and Computer Services. Under acquisitions
materials are purchased from one of three major vendors when possible.
Sometimes books are purchased directly from the publisher if they’re not
available anywhere else. Existing contracts with the vendors and
the state of Texas allows technical services to take advantage of discount
pricing saving money for the city. Some of the items that come in are processed
by the vendors so they already have dust jackets, barcodes, spine labels, and
security tags in place allowing them to get to the customers as quickly as
possible. Once these materials have been purchased and they arrive at the library,
they still need further processing. The technicians download the items
bibliographic details from a very large worldwide source and make any changes
necessary so that they conform with how Plano libraries use them. They make
sure that all of the title information is correct and that there are enough
subject headings used so that they can be easily found by our patrons within
the library’s online catalog. Before the items are sent out to the libraries, they
have the exposed barcodes taped over. The dust jackets are taped down and other
physical processing is performed to get the items ready for circulation. This
behind-the-scenes work in the database and to the materials themselves
is what makes it possible for the items to be checked out by our patrons and
allows them to be placed on hold. Maintaining the computer and database
systems in the library is also a responsibility of the technical services
department. Employees from the city’s technology services department help
staff this division of the library. They keep the software running that manages
the various functions of the public computers and the registration software
for the program rooms and summer reading activities. Think that’s a handful? While
on top of all of this, these employees help maintain the automated checkout and
book return systems to make sure that everything flows smoothly for the
thousands of items that leave and return to Plano’s libraries every day. Two other
areas of this department that are not really known are staffed by volunteers.
One group of people inspects all the materials that are damaged and need
repair. If these materials are able to be saved,
volunteers glue pages repair covers and bring the items back into good condition
so they can be returned to circulation. Books aren’t the only things that
sometimes need to be repaired. CDs and DVDs that come back with scratches on
them are sent through a machine by the library staff that returns them to
like-new condition. Volunteers manage the room where books
are collected for the Friends of the Plano Public Library’s annual book sale.
These items are collected from all branches and returned to the processing
center to be counted and sorted. Once they are boxed up they are ready to be
shipped off to the next big sale. The interlibrary loan program is also
part of this department. They lend items from the Plano libraries to libraries
across the country and borrow items for our patrons from these libraries as well.
They lend an average of about 1,000 items and we borrow around 700 items
each month. The library’s technical services department is indeed a very
busy place with tens of thousands of items being processed each year. Without
this valuable addition to the city, our libraries wouldn’t be able to offer you
the resources that you’ve come to depend on.

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