Column Description: My column focuses on how the different aspects of librarianship all intersect, and how you can utilize your experiences from one area of library work to all other areas.

Are there any differences between large main libraries and smaller branch/satellite libraries? Of course! They are different in size, with the larger libraries housing many more resources than the smaller locations just would not have the space for. The collection size at the main libraries is also much bigger, again as there is often much more shelf space. The main libraries tend to be located nearer to the busier area in town, be that a downtown area or a bustling suburb with a busy main street. 

So then what is to happen when the main library is undergoing a renovation and must move temporarily to a much smaller location than usual? It is an intersection, for sure, of chaos, change, nervousness, and excitement. I currently work for a library in which a renovation is just starting to go underway, and I can speak on this firsthand. Suddenly, our large building will be shut down for construction to do all the changes we have planned. Shutting ourselves off for the community for the time of the renovation (12 months at least) is just not an option. You are removing yourself from the public eye, and making your patrons feel as though you are not trying to provide enough for them. So, my library took another route, and we opened a temporary location to be used while the construction is underway. 

A huge undertaking to even prepare for such a move is what transpired once the Library administration decided this route. We had to secure a place that was still somewhat local to where the initial library is, and then fix up this space to be suitable to function out of. The space we chose was a former office, and while it was ready-made in some ways, in other ways, we had to make changes to the building in order to function out of this location as a branch library, even temporarily. Storage had to be arranged for all of the books that are being stored to be in the main library upon reopening.

On top of this enterprise, librarians had the task of selecting a collection to bring to the temporary location, using reader’s advisory skills, plus a review of the current popular titles to create a collection that is small, yet fulfilling for all readers at all ages. Scheduling as well became an exercise, as it involved calculating who should be in the building at what time, and arranging how much staff would fit in the space at one time. 

The feelings of the patrons mirror the staff. Just as the staff has to adjust to all the changes, the patrons have to adjust to saying goodbye to the Library as they knew it for years. The familiarity with the layout, the comfort of the Library as it was is going away. They are sad to say goodbye to their old building, yet excited for the future of the Library within the new building, and anxious for the Library to move into the future with an updated building for generations to come.

Mark Gervino is a passionate reader who made his love of reading and libraries into a career! Over a decade of library experience, and looking forward to many more years invested in literature, programming, and helping the library patron get the most out of their library experience.