Library Assistant Finds Obscure Books for Patrons

Lisa Pinette, library assistant, lends 50 to 75 Wesleyan books, articles and videos each day to libraries all over the country.
Posted 05/01/07
When Olin Library doesn’t house a publication that a student, staff or faculty member needs, it’s the job of Lisa Pinette to help find it.

Pinette, a library assistant for Access Services in the Interlibrary Loan Office, borrows and receives journals, articles and audio-visual material from other libraries. Access Services oversees the public aspect of Olin Library, ensuring that library patrons are able to find any publications, DVDs, VHS tapes or CDs they need for research.

“Some of our students may request very obscure books, which only a few libraries in the country might have, and those can be a challenge to track down,” Pinette explains. “But on the other hand, we’re getting incoming requests from other libraries all over the country, which means Wesleyan may be one of the few holders of that publication.”

Most book-swapping takes place through the CTW Consortium, a reciprocal partnership between libraries at Wesleyan, Trinity College and Connecticut College. But when these libraries don’t carry what a patron is looking for, the Interlibrary Loan Office will look beyond state — or even national boundaries.

Wesleyan shares with libraries as far away as California on a daily basis, and has provided its material to libraries as far across the globe as Australia.

“It’s fun to see what books are going out and coming in,” Pinette says. “We have about five or ten books that are constantly going out, so you know that Wesleyan is one of the only holders of that item.”

Most of these requests are handled through ILLIAD, an interlibrary loan software that is compatible with the non-profit computer library service Online Computer Library Center (OCLC). Patrons make requests either through ILLIAD or directly from WorldCat, a national library catalog produced by OCLC. The library pays for these services and patrons are not charged any fees for these services.

Although Pinette spends most of her time in the library’s Access Services Department, she wears three other hats. During the week, she works an hour in the morning as an assistant in Reference Department, where she handles administrative duties and hires and supervises the Government Documents and Reference student workers. Additionally, at the beginning of each semester, most of her time is spent processing electronic reserves for the Reserve Department. When classes are in session, Pinette supervises the Circulation Department on Sundays. This role includes opening the library, supervising the student workers at the circulation desks, and answering any circulation questions from patrons.

“My job is first of its kind in Olin and it is pretty unusual, but I fit a lot of niches here,” she says. “The best part about working in four departments is that there is no chance I can ever get bored. It’s never a routine.”

Pinette works closely with her colleagues and library assistants Kathy Stefanowicz and Kate Wolfe; and her supervisor, EunJoo Lee, head of Access Services.

“Lisa is an absolutely wonderful, capable, fun, and easy person to work with, and the ability to rotate her time based on the workload required in the library,” Lee says. “She has a talent for adapting to various technologies and has efficiently managed three different categories of library software, making her one of the few library staff members who work on many systems in the library. Lisa is highly valued in each department. She is an absolute one of kind, a beloved co-worker, and she brings brightness to colleagues and her students workers in the department.”

Pinette, who graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University in 1995, has a degree in English. During her last two years at ECSU she worked at the university’s library and caught “the library bug.” She began to follow in her mother’s footsteps; Jan Grace, who was the children’s librarian at the Library Association of Warehouse Point, Conn. for 28 years.

“Once anyone works in a library, it is all they want to do,” she says, smiling.

After college, Pinette worked for a mall-leasing company, but spent her Sundays working at the Windsor Public Library in the children’s section. She traded in her public library career for an academic library career at Wesleyan in 2001.

Pinette, a life-long Connecticut resident, lives in Middletown and enjoys creating her own holiday cards, knitting, reading, cooking, watching movies and participating in her favorite “sport” – shopping.

By Olivia Drake, The Wesleyan Connection editor