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.
It’s 5:30 a.m. and Will Pryor is loading up a dolly stacked high with red plastic totes brimming with books, DVDs, vinyl records and more. Some are new materials making their way to branch libraries for the first time while others are holds requested by customers.
Shipping and Receiving Delivery Drivers like Will are some of the first and most important people to handle a Library item. “This job is the heart and soul of the Library,” said Will in his October 2019 interview documenting how materials get to branch libraries.
Delivery drivers ensure items get to cardholders all across Hamilton County. Will and his co-workers deliver more than 19 million items every year to Library customers. “[We make] sure we get everything correct, give them the right totes, and just try to be persistent every day, day after day,” he notes.
Will leaves the Library’s new distribution center in the West End sometimes before the sun comes up. “Timing is everything for us drivers,” he said. “And definitely for the customers getting their books and movies.”
Each driver has a specific delivery route that is mapped to be as efficient as possible. Will’s route usually includes 10 branch libraries.
R-F-I-D tags help him identify which totes go to which Branch. The ID tags also include a list of the items found inside, so with a quick scan, Branch Library staff can put them directly on the hold shelves. “We work hard,” said Will. “But we strive on getting your books, videos, etcetera to you in a timely fashion.”
One thing that helps make Will’s job go quicker and easier is the state-of-the-art sorting machine fondly referred to by many Library workers as “The Green Machine.” “I really love the way the sorting machine is set up [with] the West, East, Central, and Mid-city…their setup is designed just for your route,” he said. “So when you back up and start unloading your truck you can get right to [everything you need] that’s on your route. It makes it a lot easier.”
After unloading the totes filled with new and hold items for a Branch Library, Will picks up any returns the location may have that need to be sent back to the distribution center. He takes them back with him to be processed and sent out again to the next cardholder. “The quicker I get those books there, I’m at the job loading up and ready to bring the afternoon shipment,” he said.
Learn more about the integral part Will plays in the lifecycle of Library items by watching his full video below: