Emory Libraries Operations and Access Services team helps regulars and visitors get what they need, with a smile

by Terence Jefferson, Operations and Access Services team manager

When students, faculty, and visitors enter the Woodruff Library, the first people they encounter are the members of the Operations and Access Services team at the front desk. They’re always ready with a greeting and a smile, help with the gate for someone who’s forgotten their EmoryCard or assistance for a visitor signing in on the digital guest book.

The mission of Operations and Access Services at the Emory Libraries is to provide the Emory community with a safe, secure, welcoming environment that enables and enhances learning and studying. Team members support the library’s mission by ensuring collections and resources are secure, fostering goodwill and an understanding of policies, and providing operational support to all departments.

Operations and Access Services interacts with an estimated 6,500 students, staff, faculty and visitors per day and provides over 5,700 operational support hours per year. They complete approximately 69,000 service transactions each year, including registering visitors; providing information and directional assistance; fielding lost and found inquiries; tending to gate alarms and facility work orders; programming doors, elevators, and access cards; granting loading dock access, parking passes and elevator access, and handling compact shelving service calls.

They also provide event support for library, university, and student functions. These events include the Rose Library’s annual Twelfth Night fundraiser, the Board of Trustees annual meeting, the Corpus Cordis Aureum breakfast in the Matheson Reading Room, President Carter’s visits, student fundraisers and many others.

“It has been a pleasure working with the team on the Corpus Cordis Aureum breakfast in the Matheson Reading Room the morning of Commencement,” said Trish Sudlow, associate director of advancement events. “In fact, last year they personally called me to ensure that everything we needed from the Operations and Access Services team was being provided.”

Team members’ areas of responsibilities are the libraries within Woodruff, Candler Library, Woodruff Health Sciences Center Library, the Science Commons, the Computing Center at Cox Hall, and the Library Service Center. The scope of their work includes public service and information, manual and electronic access services, facility operations, and emergency preparedness and response. Their role will soon extend to functions at the Woodruff Library service desk. The department also provides free blue books during exam crunch time, opens classrooms (including the Jones Room if needed) for additional study space during peak times, and offers words of encouragement during stressful periods.

Erin Mooney, instruction and outreach librarian, said, “Whatever mood I’m in when I arrive at work or leave to go home, I am always cheered by the smiling face of the person I see at the front desk. It’s a good reminder to me to try to be as nice to others as the Operations and Access Services team is to everyone because those moments of kindness make a difference.”

Public service is one of the most important aspects of the job. Bobbi Patterson, Emory professor of religion, said, “My job as a teacher and researcher regularly puts me in the library. But even when you love your work, getting there can be tough some days. It’s the team at the front desk that makes all the difference. Their caring “good mornings,” small talk, and helpfulness when I’ve left or lost something is the bridge – and makes all the difference.”

Last semester, the Operations and Access Services team recognized that a student was suffering from dangerously low blood sugar. The staff acted quickly and got her immediate medical attention. A few days later, the student returned the library to thank the team for their help. 

Throughout the year, the team receives hundreds of lost items. Last year, a University of Michigan student lost her wallet with $2,500 cash inside. The team immediately contacted Michigan’s registrar office and asked them to inform the student that her wallet was found and could be picked up. She was extremely thankful that they took the effort to track her down.

A few years ago, during winter intersession, an elderly couple and their son knocked on the library doors just as it was closing. The couple explained that they were from out of state visiting their son for the holidays and it was their last day in town before flying out the next morning. They had come to see the exhibit in the Schatten Gallery. Instead of turning them away and saying “sorry, we’re closed,” the Operations and Access team invited them in for a private tour of the exhibit. 

Through its support of faculty, students, and staff across campus, the Operations and Access Services team is an essential part of the Emory college system. Look for them when you walk into the library anytime you need directions, a quick chat or a smile.