National Library Week 2017
You checked out The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain. Maybe you found it in Readers' Services, Teens, or Children’s; maybe you found it at a branch. You return it. And you don’t see it again until you’re browsing the shelves and there it is. Your book. The one with the bookmark that you forgot and thought you'd lost forever.
Where did the book go after you returned it? And how did it get back on the shelf?
At some point or another, it passed through MSS.
MSS stands for Material Support Services. You don’t see this department because MSS is in the basement at the Main library. You sometimes see us pushing carts, shelving books, or dropping something off in a department. MSS is one of the cogs that keeps ACPL up and running.
What happens in MSS that’s so important?
If you returned your book at the Main library, we pick it up from one of our drops. We have four — a walk-up book drop off of Ewing Street, an inside book drop near the Check Out desk, an inside book drop near the Plaza Security desk, and the drive-up book drop off of Wayne Street. We check each drop about once an hour. Every book that is returned is checked in by us.
If you returned your book at Main, but it belongs at a branch location, it has some more traveling to do once it gets checked in. Down in MSS we sort all of the materials into courier tubs. The tubs are then picked up by our couriers and taken to the proper branch location.
If you returned your book at Main and it belongs at Main, it takes a trip down our sorting line.
Each of those lines has tubs going to different departments in Main (Readers' Fiction, Children’s Non-Fiction, Popular Library, etc). What happens next is loading, and depending on the day this can happen quickly or slowly — each section of a department has its books loaded onto a cart and pushed out into the hallway for shelving
Now, most of you know the departments at Main — Readers' Services and Children’s on the first floor; Business, Science & Technology, Teens, and the two departments of Art, Music & Media on the second
floor. What some of you may not know is that underneath your feet are two levels of storage…and they are HUGE—as in, over 1,000,000 books kind of huge!
We spend a lot
of time in storage. If we’re not returning items to their places on the shelf, or shelf reading (which is, literally, just us ‘reading’ the shelf and making sure everything’s in order), then we’re fetching items people have requested from storage and bringing them upstairs. Whew
. We do that all day, every day, and make sure that the book you returned—remember The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
?—is back on the shelf for you or the next patron to enjoy.
*Photo credits go to Keri, Lorie, and Emma (MSS).