In this month’s installment of Behind the Scenes, we look at one of the most active teams in the Library – the Support Services Team (SST). Lead by Damian Nicolaou, the 6-strong team lies within the Collections Management department at the Wellcome Library providing key core services as well as taking on a number of projects.
The SST carries out all the retrieval and delivery of material for the Library’s users – mainly for the public but also for the staff. They have a 90 minute turnaround time, and can be seen moving special collections to and from all areas of the Library building. In fact, some 20,000 items are moved by the SST per annum – that’s over 3,000 items per team member – a very active job indeed!
The other core service the SST manages is stock and space maintenance throughout the Library. This includes both the open stacks and the stores, and the Rare Materials Reading Room. The team are vigilant in making sure the Library’s materials are stored appropriately – making best use of the space available and minimising risk of damage – and are kept in order so they are easily available to the users. The SST also keep an eye on the physical condition of the material they handle, identifying vulnerable items so they can be properly conserved and maintained.
The SST also participate in a variety of projects, usually to do with managing and organising the Library’s physical stocks, such as logistics for large-scale digitisation projects, numbering of Rare Books, and assisting with conservation and preparation, but also other tasks such as web archiving. Overall, the SST interacts with all the other departments in the Library, both in their core work and the project-based work.
The SST’s biggest challenge this year is putting into action changes recommended by a recent service review that touches on many aspects of the Library, but particularly on the SST. The recommendations include streamlining some existing tasks, and taking on new tasks. Damian says “It is always a challenge to take on new responsibilities such as service desk work, while maintaining an efficient and high quality service in the core areas.”
Although the SST’s work may not always be visible to the public, it “underpins many aspects of the service the Library provides to its users and contributes to the overall user experience of the Library” Damian says. Speedy and efficient delivery of requested materials, opening and closing the Library, tidying reading rooms and assisting with the Self Copy Service, for example, all make the Library run smoother, and help give it the relaxed and helpful atmosphere that its users (and its staff) need.