If You Order It, We Will Come
October 29, 2010
(... to work and clock in and find it and scan it and deliver it and shelve it and you’ll read it or watch it or listen to it and…)
Last time we talked, I informed you of the fundamental responsibility of Pages, which is shelving books. This is what Pages do 95.345481% of the time -- give or take a percentage point here or there. Normally, there is always something to shelve; however, there are other tasks that Pages have.
As the vast majority of our customers know, the Mid-Continent Public Library is composed of thirty branches spread out across the Clay, Platte, and Jackson County areas (and a few community center Library-to-Go’s as well). Between all thirty branches, there are about three million, four-hundred twenty thousand, two-hundred fifty-eight books, films, and audio recordings in the MCPL collection. Each individual branch owns their own fraction of the collection and labels those items with their branch code (Blue Ridge- BR, Lee’s Summit- LS, Smithville- SM). Have you ever taken home a library book with a different code than the library from which you got it? One of the services offered by the library system revolves around putting “holds” on items from other branches. It works like this:
- You, the customer, signs on to the mymcpl.org Online Catalog (top right of the page) using your library card and PIN (which is your birthday, in the format dd/mm/yyyy).
- You search the Catalog for your desired item(s) based on different search categories (author/director/composer/lead actor/singer, title, keyword, subject, item type—DVD vs. book vs. music CD vs. spoken audiobook, etc.)
- When you find your item(s) du jour, you click “Place Hold” in the left hand module. The Internet browser re-routes to a verification page that, again displays “Place Hold”, except the button is bigger and in the form of blue box…not that it matters what color it is. I just think it’s cool that they chose blue because it’s my favorite color and the effect used to make the button stand out is just fantastic…Where was I going with this? Oh yes.Holds.
- Your item is now on order. Ta Da! It will be magically at the branch waiting for you when it is ready. For more on that, keep reading.
This is where the Pages come in. Three times every day, each branch prints off what is called a picklist. This is a compilation of all the items customers have recently ordered that are available at their respective branches at the time the list is printed (did you get all that? I have to say I sort of confused myself just then). So basically, if that branch is supposed to have the item, it will be on the list. This list is then divided amongst the Pages on duty, who then separate (think, “Let’s split up, gang,” only probably minus the monsters. Probably. Now, I’m concerned about potential monsters.), trekking to all corners, heights, and sometimes even depths, such as… The Archive (*BAH Bum…bum.*…when will I learn?) housed in the (so far monster-less) basement of the Blue Ridge Branch, to collect the needed items. All of the books, videos, CDs and what-nots are then scanned to determine to which branch each item needs to go. The items are placed in bins, and every day those bins are transported by truck to be further sorted and delivered to your different branch.
This process is really a team effort, from you, to the Pages, to the Clerks, to the Drivers. I like to imagine that the Pages do most of the work (I’m being self-righteous and extremely biased here, FYI), but every job is just as important. It’s all in an effort to administer quality customer service and to get those customers their items in good time. And that means you.
Blue Ridge Branch