I started in my current position as Head of Technical Services and Acquisitions at Collier County Public Library two years ago and only had a peripheral understanding of technical services. I had worked for a library vendor for twelve years training, supporting, and selling library software to libraries throughout the US and Canada. I loved learning about libraries and their workflows—in particular, those of technical services. I also did some consulting work, analyzing processes and workflows and making suggestions for improving efficiencies.
During my years working for a vendor, I always knew that when I went back to library work, I’d be working in technical services. Everything about it appealed to me. Acquiring books (and all other materials), managing the database, increasing findability, circulation, and customer satisfaction is what I love to do.
How did I get a job in a department in which I have never worked? I found a library that knew what I could do and was willing to give me a chance—not to mention, I was in the right place at the right time. That’s how I learn best: trial by fire! With any new project or task, I just jump in.
I knew libraries—their challenges, their workflows, and their goals. But I wanted to know more from the people that worked in technical services. Where better to learn about this department than in ALCTS? I have learned so much about public libraries, technical services, and the value of networking with like minds.
When I first became a member of ALA, I looked specifically for opportunities to connect with other technical services staff and found ALCTS. At the 2016 ALA Annual Conference, those opportunities included:
- attending my first ALCTS event, the meeting of the Public Libraries Technical Services Interest Group (PLTSIG),
- seeing a great presentation by Michelle Zwierski from Nassau County, and
- networking with the group and volunteering to be chair for the upcoming year, 2016–2017.
What a great opportunity to learn and participate in the ALA community and ALCTS in particular!
ALCTS so far
I’m going into my second year with ALCTS and had a great learning experience at the 2017 ALA Annual Conference in Chicago. PLTSIG partnered with the Cataloging of Children’s Materials Committee to host a roundtable discussion after the Dewey Breakfast. We also co-sponsored an ALCTS preconference event with the ALCTS Cataloging and Metadata Management Section’s Continuing Education Committee and the ACRL Technical Services Interest Group called “Cataloging and Metadata for the Web: Meeting the User Where They Are.” Being present for ALA’s launch of Book Club Central with Sarah Jessica Parker announcing the inaugural book selection, “No One Is Coming to Save Us,” by Stephanie Powell Watts was amazing! And singing along with hundreds of librarians and library supporters to Sister Sledge’s “We are Family” awaiting Hillary Rodham Clinton was inspiring!
How to get involved
Get out there! Attend those ALCTS Interest Group and ALA Round Table meetings; that’s where you’ll really connect with others who work in technical services and learn about best practices for our profession. Take on being a chair or co-chair for a year. Say you need help, and others will help you. Long-time members are always happy to help us newbies.
Carey Hunt has a BA from L’universite Laval in Quebec City, Quebec Canada and an MLIS from University of Alberta in Edmonton, Alberta Canada. She has worked at Broward County Public Library as Public Services Librarian, Nova Southeastern University as a Distance Services Librarian, and at Innovative Interfaces as a Training Consultant, Systems Librarian, and Customer Sales Consultant.