Today is the last day of Administrative Professionals Week (formerly Secretary’s Week), a period which recognizes the secretaries, executive assistants, clerks, and other office workers who support and/or share in the management of office-related operations. Societal changes precipitated the need for a large number of office workers. This need presaged the rise of the occupation. Annual recognition of the workers, beginning with National Secretaries Week in 1952, is a culmination of the work of the Department of Commerce, “various office supply and equipment manufacturers,” and advertising publicist, Harry F. Klemfuss. Today more than 18 million persons comprise this group of professionals. Information about the prospects of administration professionals is available online in the Occupational Outlook Handbook and in other media such as Opportunities in Administrative Assistant Careers and Business Management and Administration at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh .
Shelf and Stack Services (SSS) personnel locate, retrieve, and reshelve library materials. Piece of cake, huh? Hardly worthy of mention, you say? The reality is that this Department facilitates virtually every transaction between the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the patrons it serves in Pittsburgh, in Allegheny County, and frequently, across the nation.
In 2009, SSS had a literal hand on the nearly 1 million items that made their way from library to library. Some effort was the result of filling requests made by patrons of other CLP branches or via Interlibrary Loan, by other libraries, while some stemmed from the regularly scheduled collections at book drops and at the Customer Service station.
Borrowed items which are returned to the Library are quickly reshelved to provide access to other patrons. SSS shelved 500,000 items last year, while at the same time monitoring them for broken spines, ripped pages, and similar defects in need of repair.
When one considers that only a fraction of CLP’s browsable materials reside on the three floors to which patrons have access, the contributions of SSS are apparent. The remainder of the collection—the esoteric, the specialty, the rare, the nostalgic—are available for all through the efforts of personnel who doggedly scour niches and cubbyholes to satisfy unusual and exacting informational needs and realize the mission of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
Selecting non-fiction print materials about anthropology, the environment, and maps and geology is one of my responsibilities as a Reference Librarian at the Main Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CLP). The main components of the task are (1) selecting a fixed number of books from the myriad that are described in reviewing tools and (2) replacing them with updated information as needed.
The Library’s Collection Development Policy reflects our community, an eclectic mix of persons, households, and races that comprise Pittsburgh City and Allegheny County. It serves the formally educated and the self-taught, and city residents as well as outliers. Most of our constituents are natives of the country; however, they represent more than 20 different ancestral strains.
Fire in My Heart and The Lore of Ireland, items in our popular international folklore collection, may owe their appeal to the heritages expressed in the area. Reading Maps and Designed Maps, both books on cartography, are good examples of addressing differing levels of knowledge and expertise. Finally, the books To Love the Wind and the Rain and Native Americans and the Environment bring to our collection persons who rarely appear in environmental literature.
I remember the exact moment that my potential boss asked me about answering questions concerning patents and trademarks in addition to performing the duties he had previously described for the job. Since I wanted to work at the Carnegie Library pretty badly and since the job offer was contingent on a “yes,” I swept my inner self in search of an affirming smile that could mask my apprehensions. I’m glad I was successful because in landing the job, I gained the opportunity to learn about and appreciate not only patents—the topic of this post—but also trademarks and copyrights, two other forms of intellectual property.
Intellectual property is a direct consequence of creativity, i.e., mental effort. Behind the television, the iPod®, the auto—not to mention the paper clip, the drinking straw and other ubiquities—lay ideas that sprang from the minds of inventors and entrepreneurs. Recognizing the value of intellectual property, our government offers patents as an incentive for the generation of new ideas that result in new and valuable products and methods which move the nation forward. In exchange for full disclosure, the government-issued patent forbids others from capitalizing on an invention for twenty years.
As a member of the Patent and Trademark Depository Library Program, the Reference Services staff answers questions about patents and helps patrons search for various types of information about them. Inventors who plan to apply for a patent want to make sure that their ideas are original, while others want to trace the development of a particular apparatus or industry. College students, another contingent of library patrons, conduct economic surveys based on the number and type of patents that are issued annually.
The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh provides access to online tools that are available to the general public as well as to specialized tools that are available only onsite. In addition to online and print resources available for searching patents, staff members can learn more via in-house training on March 6, and we invite interested patrons to call our main number to arrange for group sessions.
World Literature Today (WLT), a highly informative journal about world literature, is one of nearly 1000 periodicals to which we subscribe. Since limitations on space prevent our showcasing the entire collection at one time, we display them in rotation. Fortunately, WLT is currently available for perusal on the periodical shelves of the Reference Services Department, and library guests can browse it for a reading on developments in world literature and culture. CLP has an unbroken run of the journal beginning in 2002 as well as issues published from 1977 to 1979.
Published bimonthly by the University of Oklahoma, WLT features poetry, prose, and reviews about world literature. It is an English publication; however, commentaries and reviews encompass books which are written in and/or translated from a variety of languages as well as published within and outside the United States.
Among its features are respective profiles of established and emerging writers and treatment of specific themes. The theme of the current issue, “Voices Against the Darkness: Imprisoned Writers Who Could Not Be Silenced,” takes up about one-third of the issue in exploratory essays, interviews, poetry, and prose of writers who experienced or witnessed imprisonment or exile. “Food,” “Exile and Migration,” “Catalan Literature,” and “Indigenous Popular Culture” are other issues WLT has recently addressed. Succinct yet substantial, WLT provides a great entrée to world literature.
Since 1895, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh has offered as much as 58% of all publications printed by the United States Government. As a member of the Federal Deposity Library Program, the Library is one of 1200+ conduits for information between local citizenry and the Federal Government . These materials, along with the professional assistance which collect, distribute, and maintain them, help safeguard our “right to know.” Unclassified material, whether hearings, rulings, committees, and sundry publications, are available free of charge at the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. They are an excellent resource for primary resources about the issues that underlay the structure of our government.
The scope of a Depository Library, in general, encompasses health, law, science, business, education, history and geography with emphasis given to topics that are germane to its particular audience. For example, in addition to the climatological data found in nearly all Depository Libraries, CLP’s collection also includes coverage of the city and of mining, one of several industries that have shaped the culture and history of this and neighboring areas. Data provided by the federal Government is available online and /or via microfiche, journals, pamphlets, and books.
The numerous displays of printed and A/V materials scattered throughout the Main Library are quick and effective ways of highlighting some of our 2,000,000+ holdings. While our shelves “house” our collections, the displays spotlight items that can update patrons on current events, broaden their knowledge about familiar topics, or offer serendipitous learning.
For staying abreast of the topical, or reading what the staff feels is exceptional, check out the respective displays of “New Books” and “Staff Picks” available on each floor. Or, browse the Library for presentations on more narrowly-focused themes. For example, a First-Floor Display which includes Almost Human: Making Robots Think and Flesh and Machines as well as speculation on the merging of humanity and machine is ideal for those with an interest in robotics, while another in the Children’s Department highlights observances of varying cultures such as Divali, All Souls Day, and Sukkot. Similarly, sampling of the four displays on the second floor range from information about the green revolution to songs of the people.
At any given time, there are 20-odd displays dispersed throughout the building and all serve as quasi annotations to significant holdings of the Main Branch of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.
I find almost any work commonly associated with women enthralling. If I spy a book about knitting, for example, I’ll latch onto it regardless of authorship or age or whether it has garnered positive or “so-so” reviews.
I’ve seldom been disappointed. The excitement for me, in this case, stems from developing technical expertise as well as uncovering information about women’s roles regardless of time or place. Based on the numbers of clubs that were active and classes that were offered, knitting appears to have had wide appeal for women and girls of various circumstances during the first half of the twentieth century.
Its appeal increased even more during the war years when women routinely provided handmade garments for soldiers. During World War I, for example, members of Pittsburgh’s Red Cross Chapter were commended for the quality of socks, sweaters, shawls, ambulance covers and other items they had knitted for use by the military in the United States and abroad. And, Florence Smith Pittman, a World War II counterpart and head of the colored knitters group in Altoona knit the first sweater shipped to Europe during that conflict by a volunteer group (Per Pittsburgh Courier, 12/2/39).
The library offers books, magazines, and dvds on various aspects of knitting and other handicrafts. If you’re interested in the classics, check out anything by Elizabeth Zimmermann—her work is available via books or DVDs; for patterns, Barbara Walker’s series is inspirational. The multi-volume Weldon’s Practical Needlework, a reproduction of 18th-century newsletters providing instructions for knitting and other needlework offers technical information in a historical context, while A History of Hand Knitting by Richard Rutt and No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting by Anne McDonald focus on social and cultural matters. In addition, the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh offers hands-on knitting sessions at 4:30 pm on the first and third Wednesdays of each month.