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Boatwright Memorial Library

General Services Student Assistant Resources: Other Library Training/Daily Tasks

This guide provides tips and training materials for General Services Student Assistants.

Sending and Receiving ILL Items

Opening Mail - Items arrive in the Mail Room; check both the counter and ILL cubby at least once per shift and bring up anything addressed to Interlibrary Loan/ILL/Resource Sharing.

  • Carefully open each package, bearing in mind that fragile items may be enclosed. Use caution when using scissors and box cutters to open mail as these may injure you and cause damage to enclosed items. 
  • Sort items by the enclosed paperwork. Returns of our items should have the slip from when you originally pulled the item, as well as a University of Richmond barcode sticker inside or on the cover. Materials that other institutions have sent for us to borrow will usually have different-looking paperwork, as well as a different barcode sticker. (If you are confused about which is which, don't hesitate to ask a staff member).
  • Materials we are borrowing need to be processed by staff and receive paperwork (book straps) before being placed on the ILL pickup shelf (behind the Information and Assistance Desk). 
  • If you find any re-usable packing supplies in good condition included in the mail (such as sturdy boxes, bubble wrap, clean packing paper, or padded mailers) add them to the grey bin on the left side of the packing station. Any packing material that is not in good condition and cannot be reused should be thrown away or properly broken down and recycled.

Routine Tasks for GSSAs

Pulling ILL Items

  • Book pulls are vertical half page slips and article pulls (items to be scanned) are horizontal half page slips. Book pulls will have a call number written at the top, and Article pulls will have either a call number (if the scan is from a book) or a periodical title.
  • Once you have pulled an item, tuck the slip into the pages to keep the paperwork together with its item. Bring items up to the office and hand them to a Resource Sharing staff member to be processed, or if a staff member is not available, place them on the "Pulled Materials" side of the red cart in the office. ***Do not pack an item until it has been processed by a staff member! Items that are ready to be packed are placed on the packing station and grouped with books bound for the same institution.
  • If an item on a can't be located, alert your supervisor and make sure to hand them the slip for the missing item.

Packing Items

  • Stack items with the same institution code (at the top of the pull slip) together. Often items are stacked into piles to save space; items going to the same institution are stacked flush while items going to different institutions are stacked in alternating directions. Be careful when packing them!
  • Pack items securely (no book edges sticking out of packaging, padding in boxes used when needed, and rare or delicate items packed with extra care).
  • Write the code of the destination institution on the outside of the packaging. 
  • When possible, try to pack items going to the same institution together to save on packing and packaging materials.
  • Log into our UPS account on the student desk computer. After clicking "Create a Shipment" search for the institution address by its code (***if you cannot find the code in the system, ask a Resource Sharing staff member to help you find the address). 
  • Weigh items, rounding up to the nearest pound, and enter the whole number into the weight field on the shipment page.
  • Place items in the Green UPS pickup bin in the mail room (if not every item can fit, stack the remaining packages neatly and as close as possible to the bin)
  • Packing ILL Items - ILL items that are being shipped out are placed on the packing counter in the back of the Resource Sharing Office. They are sorted according to the destination institution code. ***Items going to different institutions may be in the same stack, placed in alternating directions, to save work space on the packing counter. Please check the code on the slip before packing items together! When possible and practical, package items going to the same institution together to help the department save on packing supplies and shipping costs. Try to always pack fragile items or other institutions' items in a box with padding rather than just a padded envelope. If an appropriate box for a fragile or rare item is not available, alert your supervisor or reinforce available packaging as well as possible.

  • Packing supplies - supplies are located at the packing counter. Boxes for packing materials are stacked on the right, while padding (paper, bubble wrap, and reused padded mailers) are stored in the grey bin on the left (you can add to this bin if you find any re-usable packaging materials while unpacking ILL mail). More supplies such as unassembled boxes, extra tape, and markers are available in the supply cabinet.
  • ***When you are finished packing ILL items, make sure the packing station is clean and organized again!

Scanning Items

  • When scanning, remember to scan the following: 1) The pull slip itself with the transaction number visible; 2) the title page of the book or journal issue; 3) copyright page (which typically contains information including the publisher, publication date/place, ISBN, etc) and 4) the requested contents of the item. 
  • Items should be scanned to the Network option on the Zeta scanner, but can be scanned to a USB drive if this option is not working. Either way, alert your supervisor when the scans are finished by bringing them the slips and USB if applicable. If the scanner is not working, alert your supervisor so the scanner can be serviced.
  • Quality scans are important! Scans shouldn't include cut-off margins, "wavy" or crooked text, or images of your fingers. Use the crop tool on the touch screen to cut out anything that does not need to be in the frame. The black and white or grayscale setting is best for most text-only scans. Use the Black & White Photo setting when the article includes black and white images; likewise, use the color photo setting for articles containing color images to achieve the best quality image.
  • If an item is too difficult to scan (i.e., the margins are extremely narrow or the binding is tight, or if the item is fragile), or if you are unable to get a quality scan despite your best efforts, pass on it and alert a staff member.
  • As a rule, do not scan more than 50 pages or 25% of any item as any more may be a copyright violation. If an article request exceeds this, stop scanning and alert your supervisor.

Incoming and Returned Materials

  • Check the mail room for any packages addressed to ILL (this will be in either placed on the counter or already sorted into the ILL cubby)
  • Check behind the circulation (Information & Assistance desk) for items on the ILL return shelf. Also check the ILL shelf for items that are overdue.
  • Bring these items upstairs to be processed by staff. Unpack any incoming mail and place it in the corresponding spots on the cart in the office. Materials coming back to us have University of Richmond pull slips, and items being loaned to us will have paperwork from other institutions. If you are unsure which item is which, don't hesitate to ask a staff member.
  • Incoming items (items that are being loaned to us from other institutions) will need book straps (paper wraparounds with information on the patron and due date). A staff member will process the item and print these wraparounds for you.
  • Secure book straps to the book with tape (using a slip of scrap paper if necessary to ensure tape does not touch the book itself). Make sure the paperwork that came with the item stays with it; usually we incorporate this into the book strap, taping it together with our paperwork, so it doesn't get lost.
  • Place items with assembled book straps down on the ILL pickup shelf, located behind the circulation desk. Arrange them in alphabetical order so the front desk employee can easily find it when the patron comes to pick it up.
  • Items picked up from the ILL return shelf should have the book straps and paperwork removed; these are handed to staff for return processing and placed on the packing station to be returned.

 

Stacks Maintenance

When the stacks are organized in an orderly fashion it allows patrons and librarians to easily find what they are searching for. Stacks Maintenance tasks are shared with the Access Services department, but several tasks you will regularly perform as a GSSA include:

Shelf Reading - checking to be sure that items are shelved in the correct call number order. This task supports patrons in finding the items they need (including us, when we need to pull items to lend to other institutions). This is done with a special laptop and scanner equipment; ask your supervisor or an Access Services staff member for training on how to accurately use this. 

Edging/Dusting This helps keep the library clean and neat, which is aesthetically important (patrons will be less likely to use our collections if they are dirty or crooked). Use the edging tool and dusters (in the Resource Sharing office) to complete this task. The edging tool is used to push books back so that the spines of each book on the shelf line up together. 

Shifting - As the collection grows or needs to be moved around within the library, books need to be moved to create or fill space. Smaller-scale shifting projects, such as when a section of shelves appears "jammed up" with no room to shelve other books, are more common. Move books up or down a shelf, keeping in mind the order and "flow" of call numbers.

Shelving - This is a task you will complete less frequently, but you will be responsible for shelving periodicals in the B2 Annex (these will be located on level 1R behind the I&A desk). This is essentially the opposite of pulling materials - you will use your knowledge of Library of Congress call numbers to locate the item's proper place and put it back. Make sure items are shelved neatly and not crammed onto a tight shelf (do some "micro" shifting if necessary to accommodate the item). ***Just as with pulls, pay attention to any special location.

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