By Dawne

When the doors of the library open at 9 a.m. (or noon on Sunday) and you enter The Genealogy Center, you will see one or two librarians seated at the Ask desk, working on projects and waiting to welcome patrons. Guest passes are there for you to collect and the librarians are ready to answer your questions about where to find materials, the layout of the department, and where to begin your research. Computers, copiers and printers are humming and ready to go. Have you ever thought about what goes on before the library opens in the morning to get the area ready for you to do your research?

An Environmental Services housekeeper is the first to begin the day’s preparations in The Genealogy Center, dusting and cleaning counters and around computers and starting to turn on machines. This starts before 8 a.m.

The day-shift librarians “clock in” at 8. They continue the task of turning on lights in the catalog and copier alcoves and powering up the machinery, including copiers, printers, catalog stations, the registration computer, public service computers, print station computer, microtext scanners and Ask desk computers and printers. Currently, the public service computers are left on overnight to receive updates, but this has not always been the closing routine. If everything in the department needed to be powered on, there would be somewhere in the neighborhood of 120 buttons to press!

One of the first tasks of the librarians is to print the day’s guest passes. These are sheets of paper that have temporary library card numbers for our non-ACPL-cardholding patrons to use to log into the computers. If we are running low on copy/print cards, one of the librarians might prepare a stack of cards. Occasionally someone takes some old guest passes or other paper and cuts it into quarters to make scrap paper for customers who come into the department on a whim without bringing supplies. We also restock the boxes of golf pencils that we keep for the same reason, and the handouts that we have at the Ask desk.

A full-time shelver comes on duty at 8:30 a.m. and begins cleaning the glass on the copiers and the digital sender, and adds paper to all of the copiers and printers. This is also the time for routine maintenance on microfilm and fiche readers and printers. Service is no longer available on some of the old readers, and the Allen County Public Library's Maintenance staff have been trained to repair them.

Once or twice a week, The Center staff, those who are familiar faces and the behind-the-scenes crew who process and catalog the collection, gathers for a 30- to 40-minute meeting during the 8 a.m. hour to touch base on public activities and events, library issues and other topics.

If there is time left, the librarians start cleaning the spam messages out of the Ask a Librarian email queue and answering the questions that have come into that mailbox overnight. Then the door locks click, the elevator bells ring and the sound of footsteps coming up the stairs can be heard – it’s time to welcome the day’s patrons to The Genealogy Center!