If you've ever taken a deck of playing cards and thrown them high in the air, then quickly picked them up so you can put them all back in order, you have a little idea of what it is like to be the library courier driver. That deck of cards analogy repeats itself over and over throughout the day for the courier, except instead of playing cards, they are library books...so you really have to enjoy organizing things to be successful at this job.
Let's say you have been wanting to re-read the classic novel The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. When you make your request, the only available copy is on the shelf at the library in Lincoln City. However, you want to pick it up at the Bay City Library. How does it get from Lincoln City to you in Bay City? Well, hang on tight because I am about to tell the story of the whirlwind life of a library courier.
Bright and early every morning, our library software sends an individualized email to each of our library locations. This email contains a list of every item that has been requested by patrons and instructs the library worker at each location to pull the book off the shelf and check it in to see where it is to be routed. So, in Lincoln City, their list says to pull The Grapes of Wrath off the shelf. When they check it in with the library software, it prints out a slip that tells the librarian to transfer that book to Bay City...for you! They put the slip in the book and place the book in a transit bin loaded with all the other items headed to Tillamook County.
Now back to the courier. The driver begins each Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at the main library in Tillamook. She (or he) loads the van with courier bins destined for Pacific City, Lincoln City and Newport. The first stop is Pacific City where the driver picks up all the books going to the Lincoln County Libraries.
At about 9:30 AM, she meets the Newport courier at the Lincoln City Library and a gigantic exchange of library items takes place between these three library systems. It is not uncommon to trade off as many as 15 - 20 bins of materials at this stop. Then the "big sort" begins. We set up the back of the courier van like a big mail processing center. Each library location, from Pacific City to Manzanita, has its own bin. I always feel like a high stakes blackjack dealer when sorting these books into the right bin. Accuracy is super-important so the item gets to its intended destination.
After another stop at Pacific City, the driver arrives at the Tillamook Library and normally drops off anywhere from 8 - 10 bins full of materials coming from these libraries to the south. Now we load up all the bins with requested items heading to the north libraries. Next stop is Manzanita where we usually have at least 4 or 5 bins full of books and DVDs that their patrons are waiting for. While we are there, we pick up all of the items the Manzanita library has pulled to go to any of the libraries to the south. We take those back to the van and sort them into the right bins. The same process is repeated at our libraries in Rockaway, Garibaldi, and finally Bay City. There we will drop off several bins, including your copy of The Grapes of Wrath. When Angel checks that item in, a phone call or email is made to let you know your item is ready to pick up. Then there is one last stop at the Tillamook Library where the last of the requested items are checked in.
That may sound like a lot of work, and it certainly is, but it sure beats having hundreds of people driving around Tillamook and Lincoln counties to get their own books off the shelves!