Kerri Maher is a library services assistant at Hardwood Creek Library in Forest Lake. She has been working for Washington County Library since 2016.
Library Services Assistants, or LSAs, are the people who sit at the service desk, assisting with checkouts and issuing library cards. We also do a whole lot more throughout the day.
LSAs usually start about a half-hour before the library opens. One of the first things we do is go outside to gather newspapers and stamp them with “Washington County Library.” Then we bring them out to the newspaper display shelves and move the previous day’s papers. This gives a chance to walk through library before it opens. It’s quiet and calm.
After we have the papers out and start up the computers in the back room and at the service desk, we print out lists of expired holds, as well as requested holds. We remove cancelled holds and holds that have been on the shelf for more than seven days. Then an LSA takes a list of requested items and pulls them from all over the library.
In the morning, and continually throughout the day, we clear the book drops. Both the drop near the front entrance and the drive-up drop fill up with books sorted into a variety of bins based on segments of the library. Some items are not checked in right away and we need to manually check in those materials. It could be that they belong to another library or that they are going out for a hold. We need to check the condition of every material that is returned. Each disc in an audiobook is checked, and all of the books are looked through for personal items and damages. We call customers who’ve returned materials missing content, like missing discs from DVDs, CDs, and audiobooks. Damaged materials are written up to be examined by one of our LSAs who specializes in these items.
When we are ready to open, we have the service desk stocked with necessary materials and we turn on the sign. The doors are opened to customers, and while at the service desk we assist with checkouts, issue library cards, attend to customer concerns, and accept fines and payment for sale items. We also answer phones, place holds, and answer questions. We try to greet each person as they come and go from the library. During this time, we also sort carts into order for shelving.
Each LSA spends portions of their day shelving. We take the sorted carts, which are appropriated to certain parts of the library, and shelve all items. In addition to checking in, sorting, and shelving items returned to the library, each weekday we receive deliveries from other Washington County Library locations. Some of the materials “live” at our library and are being returned from another WCL location, and some are requested items that will go on the holds shelf for pick-up. Each item in every bin needs to be checked in and condition-checked, then directed to the appropriate location. In addition to receiving deliveries from other branches, we have bins filled and ready to go out to other locations, as well.
There are so many other little things that go into an LSAs day, but most importantly we are here to be of service to our customers.