A Look Behind the Scenes at the Yorktown Library

Yvonne Braun and Lisa Olney
Cathy Guaragno sorts through bags of books dropped off by residents.

SHRUB OAK, N.Y. – There is no shushing here. Libraries are vibrant, happening places where knowledge meets entertainment. The shelves are stacked with books, categorized and neatly labeled. Magazines in convenient racks are easy to find. And all this organization can sometimes be taken for granted.

Magic, you ask? No, it’s careful cataloging and attention to detail. The technical services clerks are the unseen people behind the scenes who process all of the information before any materials reach the library floor.

The John C. Hart Memorial Library has two part-time technical services clerks: Lisa Olney and Yvonne Braun.

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Braun has many tasks in her job description: processing the young adult and adult paperbacks and the CD collection, as well as mending damaged books. She has bachelor’s degrees in child development and psychology. With only a brief hiatus to marry and have her son, she was employed, but it wasn’t until she spent summers at the Law Library of New York University that she began her 30-year career in tech services.

She explained the process a book follows before it is ready for borrowing: She unpacks the book, inspects the packing slip, checks the invoice against the original order, and decides into which collection it belongs. The number of copies and price are then recorded. Every book is labeled on the spine as to its category (young adult, reference, biography, seven-day) and with the first letters of the authors’ last name. Each book is stamped with date of purchase and cataloged into the computer, coded and matched with Bib (bibliography) records. Many library patrons are unaware of what goes into the preparation of the book before it reaches them.

Braun is a Detroit transplant, living in New York for 40 years. She is married to Floyd Braun, a former Yorktown councilman. Her son, Dustin, lives in California and works in sustainable energy.

She has been employed at Hart for 28 years.

Olney is also a part-time technical services clerk. She has a bachelor’s degree from Arizona State University and a master’s degree in history from the University of San Diego. She is now working on a second master’s degree in library and information science and is hoping to become a reference librarian at a public library.

Olney’s area is maintaining the magazine, periodical and newspaper collections, previously maintained by Braun for 18 years. These issues arrive by mail and are checked in, labeled and added to the online catalog. Magazines, periodicals and newspapers are kept up to date either monthly, weekly or daily. Since these issues are not bound, they need protective covers and mending.

Old materials of two to three years are deleted from the catalog and discarded.

Olney started at Hart as an adult page. After a year, a tech clerk position opened and she applied. She has been at the library almost three years. She is married to Buster Olney, an ESPN sports

reporter. They have two children, Sydney, 17, at Andover Boarding School, and Jake, 12 in the Yorktown schools.

Another unsung library worker is Cathy Guaragno, who checks items returned at the book drop in the Yorktown Community and Cultural Center, located across town from the Hart Library. Guaragno and her husband, a retired Yonkers fire captain, have been Yorktown residents for over 30 years. She joined the library as a courier 14 years ago. It is her job to pick up the three or four bags of books, DVDs, CDs and magazines that are returned to the book drop every week day. She remembers when the service began, there would be one or two books in the book drop each day. She now picks up over 1,500 items each month.

The best part of her week, she said, is when someone comes by as she is emptying the bins and tells her how much the service is appreciated. She enjoys being the face of the library to the people who enjoy the convenience of the Yorktown Heights book drop.

If you thought the library is as simple as lending books, you don’t know your library.

The library is located at 1130 East Main St. Learn more by calling 914-245-5262.

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