On paper and on point: Criss Library


By Shannon Weeks

“I’m sure it takes a lot of manpower to run the library, but I hardly know anything about who works there or how it’s operated,” said Kassy Dorsey, a senior majoring in studio arts.

Dorsey said she has used the Dr. C. C. and Mabel L. Criss Library twice a week since starting school in 2011, but it was not until last week she met a staff member from the library’s Building Service department. For her graphic design thesis show on Nov. 22, Dorsey said Marc Gordon, the manager of Building Services, helped her set up her artwork display in the library’s gallery.

Among the departments in the library, the Building Service department makes sure all faculty, staff and patrons have whatever they need – from arranging offices, setting up events, facing books and moving book collections, to hanging fixtures on the wall, Gordon said.

“My department is responsible for the physical aspects of the library from the floor, to the ceiling and in between the walls,” Gordon said. “We also create the library’s digital signage and we are the first to respond to medical emergencies, theft instances and altercations.”

The Building Service department consists of three full-time staff members, including Gordon, and between four to seven students, Gordon said. The students are responsible for facing the books to make sure they look esthetically pleasing. They also assist with a full library shift where the team physically moves every book in the library to make room for new collections, he said. The last shift happened a month and a half ago.

When it comes to facing books, it is impossible to complete the task at one time. “It’s an ongoing process. We have never had the library completely faced at one time because, well, it’s impossible,” Gordon said.

With 1,782,123 pieces in all formats within the Criss Library’s collection, Gordon said, it’s a collaborative effort to keep track of it all.

“It’s a major endeavor for all departments to keep the collection in order and keep it up-to-date,” Gordon said. “I give major kudos to the departments who order the books, decide if they need to be replaced, make sure they are relevant and check them out properly.”

Katie Bishop, director of the Research Service department, said she works to keep the collection current when it comes to purchasing or discarding books.

“When purchasing books, I have faculty subject librarians on my team with a set budget who order books within the subject in which they specialize,” Bishop said. “For example, I specialize in humanities and fine arts.”

To find books, Bishop said, she relies on book reviews, library publications, vendor suggestions or frequent requests from students. Also, when new faculty members are hired at the university, the library will order books in their research area, she said.

When it comes to damaged books, Bishop said, the majority will be rebound or replaced. Some are irreplaceable, she said.

“Usually, I can replace most of the books,” Bishop said. “Some of them, however, can’t be replaced if they are damaged because they are either too old or they were a limited edition.”

Kayla Eggenberg, a junior journalism major, has worked at the library’s circulation desk since her
freshman year in 2013. Eggenberg said her job consists mainly of helping patrons with their questions about finding books or if they need materials for class. She also checks out books, laptops, cameras and other equipment.

After three years of working at the library, Eggenberg said, the best part of her job is getting the chance to meet new people every day and help them. She also likes to encourage students to take advantage of the great things the library offers.

“As a student, it’s awesome to have a library full of modern technology including, Go Pros, Kindles, iPads and especially, the Criss Creative Production Lab,” Eggenberg said.

Since the library’s remodel nearly 10 years ago, the library continues to transform in order to stay relevant for today’s students and for those in the future, Gordon said. “I have been at the library for more than ten years, before the library’s renovation when it still had bright orange carpeting,” Gordon said. “It has come a long way.”

Those who miss that orange carpet-ing are in luck, Gordon said. “Our Archives area decided to hang on to some for posterity sake.”