While the campus community sheltered in place, the Caltech Library continued to offer many of its services online, such as research assistance and access to electronic collections. The library is now resuming many of its in-person services again, with the exception of study spaces and research within the library buildings.
Specifically, physical items (including those borrowed from any location that can lend materials to Caltech via interlibrary loan), equipment loans, hold requests, check-ins, scan requests, and some mediated standard printing requests will be available. At this time, physical services will be offered only at the Sherman Fairchild Library via a walk-up window with Millikan and other campus libraries expected to open at a future date.
Franses Rodriguez, recently hired as the new Head of Access and Collection Services, is overseeing procedures to make the library safe for patrons and staff alike. The following steps are just some of the precautions being taken:
- staff will wear face coverings inside the building
- staff are not going to provide services to anyone who is not wearing a face covering (if someone is in need, there will be a supply available at the library)
- returned books will sit at "rest" for 24 hours before staff handle them
- all returned equipment will be immediately wiped with disinfectant
- social distancing signs will be posted at all potential point-of-contact areas
- staff cohorts will have separate schedules
Franses emphasizes that safety is a top priority. She has a passion for customer service, and she believes part of the work of the library is thinking about the many ways to improve patron services. Particularly relevant for re-opening a library during a time in which flexibility is needed, she hopes to create a holistic approach to the services the library offers—whether someone accesses them via phone, email, website or in person. She pointed out in an interview that “one thing we are guaranteed in life and in libraries is change.”
In her previous position at New York University, Franses served as Circulation Services Manager, overseeing Library Privileges, Circulation and Course Reserve Services at Bobst Library. She did her graduate work at NYU as well, receiving a master’s degree in Business and Workplace Education (Organizational Development).
Her new role at Caltech marks her return to Los Angeles, where she received her undergraduate degree and held her first library position as the Weekend Supervisor/ Reserve Specialist at USC’s Leavey Library. Born in Puerto Rico, she moved to Florida when she was nine years old and her first job was selling Mickey Bars at Disney World’s MGM Studios. She moves to Los Angeles with her husband of seven years, whom she met at USC, and her dog Lucy.
As Head of Access and Collection Services, Franses manages the effective daily operation of the Sherman Fairchild Library facilities and services, including circulation, technology lending, course reserves, security, and facilities maintenance. She supervises DocuServe, the Library’s highly regarded interlibrary loan and document delivery service, and is responsible for coordinating acquisitions and collection management, electronically and physically, in all six Caltech Library locations. She also ensures that the library offers friendly and welcoming environments that are conducive to learning, discovery and collaboration.
Franses is excited to continue her work in library services at Caltech. She particularly likes working in an academic environment and playing an important role in someone's educational growth. “I think libraries have historically been a center for opportunity and enlightenment and I love that every day I get to help staff, students, and faculty access information that will aid them in their personal and academic development.”
For the past month, Franses has been getting acquainted with her new colleagues remotely. When asked about this long-distance orientation, she observed that while it was a bit strange, it's been going really well overall. She said, “I've had the opportunity to have really in-depth one-on-one conversations with many of my colleagues and will have many more in the upcoming weeks. I'm not sure if we would have been able to have the same in-depth conversations if we were all on campus because of the flurry of activity.”
However, when asked what she was looking forward to when everyone returns to campus, she spoke for many of us when she said, “Physical human interaction.”
For up-to-date information on the current library services available, please visit the Caltech Library website.