The Williams-Grand Canyon News recently talked to Williams librarian Andrea Dunn about what goes on during a typical day at the "office."
How long have you been the librarian in Williams?
How did you get your start at the library?
I was working at the school at that time and I would come in and volunteer. I worked at the school in the special ed department for 10 years before I did this. And also I was running the Summer Rec program when I was still working at the school and then as I got the job over here I still worked the Summer Rec program for 11 years.
Did you go to school to be a librarian?
No I did not.
What kinds of things did you have to learn for the job?
When I first came on board, computers were not even a thing. There was one computer and it was sitting right over here on a desk in a box. The guy that was the city manager at that time was Leon Berger and he came in and he and I figured out how to get it plugged in. And then it was actually the state that took us to a lot of computer classes and things like that to teach us how to use it. I was using Apple when I worked at the school and they sent us to classes for Apple computers, but then this is a whole different ballgame when I came over here. Because all I was doing at the school basically with Apple was word processing. Not until the state sent us to classes did we even hear of the Internet. So that was like in the early 90s, because I got this job in 1990.
So you were still using a card catalogue at that point?
Yeah, and they had a really bizarre method of checking books out that took me about three times to even grasp.
How do you figure out what books to get?
I've been doing it for a really long time and so I know what's popular and what's not popular and who reads what and who doesn't read things and I read lots and lots of reviews of books. With the fiction it's pretty easy to know what people want and don't want just from past experience. But the nonfiction is not so self-explanatory because I can read 10 great reviews on a book and I'll buy it and not one person in Williams will read it.
So then what do you do?
They stay out here with the new releases for about a year and then they move back. If they're back in the stacks for eight years or something and nobody's read them we pull them.
Because you have a limited amount of space?
Exactly. When I first got this library the wall stopped right here. In '94 we got the first extension. At that time we had four computers back here for public use. In '07 - '08 we got the second grant that took it the rest of the way back. Those grants were through the state. The only place we have left to go now is up. We took up all the parking lot that we can.
What's the best part of your job?
Well of course the book part is fabulous. The people part is good, I really enjoy the people part. But as far as the best best, it's got to be the books. The part I least enjoy is movies because they fall apart and break and they come back in containers without the DVD. So that part I don't enjoy. I never set out to be a movie person but they're wildly popular so you have to deal with it.
What about putting the books back on the shelves? How much of that do you have to do every day?
I've got a part time helper. I just recently got her for about 20-30 hours a week. It helps a lot because they just recently changed our entire circulation and cataloguing program, which made it far more intense than it used to be, but they can extract a lot more data out of it. So it works for them but it's harder for us. So I have this big backlog of cataloguing books in the closet. So if she can work the desk then I'm doing the cataloguing-it works great. We have a lot of times when we're so busy it takes two people to just keep the place functioning and flowing.
How many books do you have at the library?
We're at right about 11,000 to 12,000 items right now. We bring in probably 60 new books a month. The cataloguing is constant. Then we get donations that we deal with depending on their age and relevance whether we keep them or sell them.