When people hear the word “library” a few things typically come to mind; namely librarians and books. But a library is run by people working in many different roles. They’re all helping community members with much more than book recommendations. Our series Spend a Day with a Library Worker takes you inside the lives of our Library staff in different roles and follows them on a typical workday.
Across Hamilton County, keen-eyed cardholders can spot vans zipping back and forth between the 41 Cincinnati & Hamilton County Public Library locations dropping off large, red plastic bins packed full of books, CDs, DVDs, and more. One of the Library workers driving in this fast fleet is Will Pryor, who is part of the team keeping a system circulating over 20 million items each year running smoothly.
As a Shipping & Receiving Delivery team member for the past three years and Cincinnati native, Will is familiar with almost every street in Hamilton County. “I love being out on the road,” Will said. “It’s a great job. I’ve always liked to drive.”
Connecting Library Customers with a World of Ideas
Early in the morning, Will begins his day at the Library’s Distribution Center, a state-of-the-art facility housing many of the Library’s operational departments including the Shipping & Receiving Department. Each week, Will is assigned one of four routes which can include up to 10 branches. Once he knows his route, he heads over to a large, U-shaped machine at the center of the building. “This is where it all starts,” Will said.
Everything Will delivers is organized through this custom-built, room-sized sorter. “The Distribution Center is set up is so conveniently. Everything is lined up so as the Sorters set books, movies, and more, on the machine they are scanned and automatically sent into the right bin assigned to a Library location.”
From there, Will loads a van full of these bins, meticulously packing them so each stop can be quickly and accurately delivered. As he goes through his route, he drops off his deliveries and picks up materials being sent back to the Distribution Center. “Once we get back,” said Will, “we unload all of our holds back to the Sorters which starts the process all over again.”
Helping With CHPL and Children’s Hospital’s COVID Efforts
Over the past year, Will has seen a new item added to his usual delivery of Library materials: thousands of at-home COVID-19 test kits.
Partnering with the Ohio Library Council and the Ohio Department of Health, the Library has been able to provide free at-home COVID test kits to customers. To meet the growing demand for tests, Will and his team have been delivering thousands of kits across not only the Library system, but storing and delivering kits for the Library’s community partners including Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Dayton Children’s Hospital, Lighthouse Youth & Family Services, and the Cincinnati-Hamilton County Community Action Agency.
“Since the pandemic began,’ Will said, “distributing COVID test kits has been the most rewarding part of my job. It’s helping a lot of people. These kits can help people know where they stand so we can prevent another big outbreak.” But most of all, Will is focused on one thing, “This could be what saves a life.”
Whether it’s COVID test kits, picture books, DVDs, or the latest bestseller, Will says the best part of his day is when he’s dropping off his deliveries at the branches. “I really enjoy serving and helping the public. I love meeting new people, interacting with all of the branches, and getting them the materials they’re wanting to enjoy.”