When people hear the word “library” a few things typically come to mind, namely librarians and books. But a library is run by people working in many different roles. They’re all helping community members with much more than book recommendations. Our series Spend a Day with a Library Worker takes you inside the lives of our library staff in different roles and follows them on a typical workday.
There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes at the Library. Our Digital Services team in the Genealogy & Local History Department at the Downtown Main Library handles rare materials and digitizes them for the Digital Library.
We caught up with Digital Services Assistant Whitney Reynolds, who quickly let us know that no two days are quite the same in her department—in the best way possible!
"Your day varies depending on what is needed, different projects, materials, etc.," says Whitney. "We are currently assisting with necessary shifting efforts on the floor in Genealogy & Local History, scanning requests and reference questions as well as our usual scanning and editing of materials."
"On a normal day I could be scanning larger books or maps on the SupraScan planetary scanner or I may be scanning photographs, transparencies, or other smaller materials at my desk’s flatbed scanner. I also use a Kirtas book scanner, or as we lovingly refer to it 'book-bot,' for scanning traditionally sized books or catalogs. Once the materials are scanned, I edit the digital images using Photoshop or LIMB image processing software. Upon completion, those materials are uploaded and made available in our Digital Library.”
One of Whitney’s favorite parts of her job is providing historical materials for the public to explore and enjoy. “It is really important to me as a historian,” she said. “Also, just having the privilege of learning and working with our historic and rare materials! I genuinely love what I do and the people I work with.”
The biggest challenge? All that research. But it’s also one of her favorite parts of her job, too. "Each month Digital Services provides research to share Thursdays for our Library’s social media #throwbackthursday posts,” said Whitney. “I love that continued learning is part of my job and I get to share it with my community."
One of her favorite projects was a collaboration for an exhibit at the Cincinnati Museum Center in 2019. "We worked with the Cincinnati Museum Center to digitize their World War I soldier photograph collection," said Whitney. "I love any chance to humanize history and reading the stories written by loved ones on the back of these photographs of fallen soldiers was powerful and felt important."
All of the scanning, editing, and uploading content Whitney does each day takes time. "It may seem quick and simple," she said, "but we are working with rare and often fragile materials and that takes extra care."
So next time you visit the Digital Library, you can think of Whitney and her team giving all of the materials featured there the time, care, and attention they deserve.
For more information about the Genealogy & Local History department, visit their webpage or check out the Digital Library.