Members of the Collection Services team unboxing and shelving materials!
It's no secret: we love the Cambridge Public Library staff! From circulation to admin, facilities to youth services - the enthusiasm, warmth, and dedication of the library’s team makes Cambridge an amazing place to live, learn and explore.
The Cambridge Public Library Foundation is taking you on a virtual tour of the library and introducing some of the library’s superstar staff. Our next stop is Collection Services!
This week we’re excited to introduce you to Kathy Penny! Kathy, along with her mighty team of eight, is responsible for maintaining and growing the library’s vast collection. She is up to date on all library trends, what’s new in the collection, and she even shares what books patrons are most eager to get their hands on.
What is your position at the library?
I am the Manager of Collection Services. We're responsible for the acquisition, processing, cataloging and distribution of library materials to all seven library locations.
Could you please tell me more about Collection Services and the important role it plays at the library?
Sure! Collection Services is comprised of eight dedicated staff who ensure that new library materials are ready and available to the public. This includes ordering new materials every week, receiving and unboxing these materials, processing and cataloging them and then distributing them to their respective locations. In a given year, Collection Services handles more than 50,000 new items for the Cambridge Public Library!
A small percentage of that 50,000 are replacements or materials to add to an existing collection - the majority are new items. We collaborate with our vendors to receive books ahead of their release date so we can process them in our system, put stickers on them, and get them on display the day of release. Our goal is to offer patrons the same experience as walking into a bookstore!
In addition, Collection Services orders eContent from the Overdrive platform, responds to patron requests for items we don’t already own, services Interlibrary Loan and Commonwealth Catalog requests for the Main Library, and serves as back-up coverage for public service needs.
Commonwealth Catalog is a very cool aspect of the library, and it is an increasingly popular service. If a patron is looking for material that cannot be found in the library or MinuteMan System, we can check the state’s library system, Commonwealth Catalog, to see if they have the item. If it is not in the state’s system we can check with other libraries and institutions across the United States. There are libraries in all 50 states that will lend out materials to Cambridge Public Library patrons. We are fortunate to be part of a national network of libraries that support one another.
What are some of the trends you are seeing in what patrons check out?
Catabridgians remain voracious readers across many genres and formats! We continue to see an increase in eContent consumption across our two primary eBook vendors - Overdrive and hoopla. Additionally, we now have magazines available in digital format across three platforms, Overdrive, hoopla and Flipster. eContent has been growing in popularity over the past 15 years, but has really gained traction in recent years as new publishers have uploaded digital content! From a growing number of movies, music, books, and magazines available digitally, it's no wonder eContent is so popular.
The library paused print magazine subscriptions during our closure in 2020 and early 2021, but I’m happy to say they are available on our shelves again!
The list of popular titles is ever-changing but current favorites are Apples Never Fall by Liane Moriarty and Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr.
What is your favorite part about working at the library?
The people that I work with! They are dedicated, energetic, lovely humans focusing each day on our mission to serve our community. I also enjoy selecting and purchasing new materials for our libraries, whether it's books or movies. There are so many interesting and exciting releases forthcoming, especially for the Spring! And, as I had said before, I love the Interlibrary Loan. It's super-cool to be able to obtain items for our patrons from all over the country. We love seeing packages arrive from different states and knowing we've located a rare or obscure item for our patron to borrow!
What is your favorite book?
Just one? I've always loved White Oleander by Janet Fitch. My favorite read from 2021 is Dog Flowers, a memoir of a Navajo woman who returns to the reservation her Mom was born on to learn more about her. Bonus points because the author, Danielle Geller, is also a librarian!
Is there anything you’d like library patrons to know?
I’d like to plug Reading Together: A Yearlong Library Challenge! Each month, we offer a theme and curated book lists that relate to the theme. Patrons can download the app and log into the reading tracker (Beanstack) to complete each challenge. The Beanstack software is generously funded by the Library Foundation.
I really enjoyed working with library staff in different departments to curate these special reading lists. Each month we feature 12 books for readers in their respective categories: youth, teens and adults. That’s 36 books a month that we recommend across ages and interests! January's theme is "Try Something New" and February’s theme is “Celebrate Black Voices.”
In addition, the Cambridge Public Library is offering a new book group for adults in conjunction with Reading Together: A Yearlong Library Challenge. The Book Group will meet virtually via Zoom the fourth Monday of every month. Patrons can read one of the suggested books or any other book that fits the current month’s theme. We hope you'll join us!
You can learn more about Reading Together: A Yearlong Challenge here. If you would like to register for our Reading Together Book group you can do so here.
Contributions from the City of Cambridge and our generous donors have supported the library’s collection services. If you would like to support the Cambridge Public Library, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Cambridge Public Library Foundation is dedicated to supporting the Cambridge Public Library and its programs that educate, inspire and respond to the needs of our diverse community.