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Published: Tuesday, 8/14/2001

Business Technology Department offers patrons one-stop resource shopping

BY RACHEL ZINN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Aspiring entrepreneurs can now spend less time wandering through vast rows of library shelves and more time raking in the cash.

To research how to start a small business, users of the old Main Library might have had to visit three different departments: social science, business, and science and technology.

Now these curious soon-to-be tycoons can make a single stop at the library's new business and technology department to find information about business advice, legal permits required for small businesses and how to launch a web site for a new company.

The change is part of the Main Library's reorganization, which has merged similar subjects to reduce the number of departments from 10 to six.

Librarians say the new arrangement, which puts all books in order by the Dewey decimal system, makes using the library easier and more efficient.

"Before, the Dewey numbers were so split up, you may have had to go to two departments to get all the research you needed," said Dorcel Thrower-Dowdell, library manager.

The old library was sometimes complicated to use because it separated subjects into small categories, said Karen Wiggins, manager of the new business and technology department.

"For the public coming in, compartmentalization is not the best way," she said.

The new humanities department merged several of the old subjects, placing all literature and fiction next to nonfiction sources about subjects such as fine arts, history, travel, and biography.

"It's a nice blend. The history parallels the fiction," said Susan Coburn, humanities manager.

Librarians participated in a 75-hour cross-training program that prepared them for the departmental changes.

Ms. Wiggins worked strictly with science materials under the prior system. To manage her new department, which combines science and technology with business and social science materials, she struggled to learn about business and legal sources.

She said cross-training was a "cohesive" experience for the staff.

"The librarians are learning a lot from each other and relying on each other for help."

Each department in the new system contains one reference desk with four or five librarians. This setup has consolidated the staff into fewer locations.

"All these experienced librarians at one desk should be an enhancement in service," Ms. Coburn said.

The library also revamped the former visual services department, bringing sound recordings out of the music department to join other nonprint materials, such as videos and DVDs, in the audiovisual department.

Creating an A/V department was a long time coming, Ms. Thrower-Dowdell said.

"The audio being with the print music was sort of a sore thumb sticking out," she said.

The section called the "popular library" is a new concept at the Main Library. This department brings together all new materials and teen books with the technology center and library information line.

All materials, both print and A/V, will begin their residence in Toledo at the popular library. The section is located near the Michigan Street entrance so patrons get a quick peek at contemporary literature and music on their way to the classics.

"Popular libraries are really a new trend. We're on the cutting edge," said Chris Kozak, library spokesman.



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