A Day in the (Texas Collection) Life: Tiff Sowell, Library Information Specialist

Meet Tiff Sowell, native Texan and Library Information Specialist, in our latest staff post giving you a peek into the day-to-day work of The Texas Collection:

Periodicals, The Texas Collection
Staying up to date with binding is not easy with as many active titles as we have–more than 3,000!

As a Library Information Specialist, I am responsible for a myriad of duties that keep my days interesting and unique. From quality control of student work to preservation to stacks maintenance, my job touches on many aspects of library work.

One of my favorite jobs is maintaining the website, as it is perhaps one of the most frequently utilized gateways to our materials as well as to our staff. Keeping the vast amount of information up to date and organized in an easily accessible manner is not always as easy as it sounds, but is most rewarding.

This includes keeping the homepage fresh for returning users by updating the Flickr slideshow, the blog RSS feed, and the Facebook feed.  I also create new pages for exhibits, events, and sometimes to showcase collections. This particular job allows me to express my creativity in a manner that benefits The Texas Collection as well as our patrons.

Here at The Texas Collection, keeping the humidity and temperature at acceptable levels is always a concern, as is the case with many libraries and archives. The age and construction of our building presents unique challenges in this endeavor, as the building has a history of leaks, mold, and wide temperature swings.  To help counter this, we use temperature/humidity monitors for each floor as well as our secure rooms. I keep track of the data recorded on these monitors, which help assist us with assessing and preventing environmental threats to the collection.

Another important aspect of my job requires the handling and filling of interlibrary loans (ILLs). We receive many requests for either the duplication or lending of materials. When a request comes in, we must first assure that the item is in a condition to allow lending. Once this has been determined, either scans of the requested pages are made, which I then upload to the ILL server, or the item itself is sent out for circulation.

I also am in charge of overseeing all of the serials (such as magazines and journals) here at The Texas Collection. This is a gargantuan job in itself and requires the assistance of several student workers. Binding, processing, shelving, shifting, and making sure the holdings are accurately reflected in the record takes up a large portion of my time.

Microfilm room, The Texas Collection
One of the microfilm readers. I have spent many hours assisting patrons with this machine.

I have a lifelong love of electronic equipment, and it is my pleasure to be able to assist patrons and the staff with troubleshooting the equipment here at The Texas Collection. From the antiquated slide projectors to the microfilm machines to the computers and scanners, I am the first point of contact for troubleshooting.  Usually I can figure out what the problem is and correct it, but occasionally, we do need to call ITS.

My absolute favorite job, however, is assisting patrons at the circulation desk. I enjoy helping people find what they are looking for and hearing their interesting stories.  It is very rewarding to me, when at the end of the day, I can look back at the people I helped and the materials I kept safe for another day.

The Texas Collection turns 90 this year! But even though we’ve been at Baylor for so long, we realize people aren’t quite sure what goes on in a special collections library and archives. So over the course of 2013, we are featuring staff posts about our work at The Texas Collection. See other posts in the series here.

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