Victoria Volckmann’s days generally begin with coffee and end with reading for relaxation. In between her cup of coffee in the morning and her good book in the evening, the collection development manager at the Pekin Public Library does not have a set routine, tailoring her schedule to meet the library’s day-to-day needs. Volckmann is responsible for purchasing the library’s adult materials, including books, movies, magazines and electronic books.
“I usually have a couple of hours each day where I am off-desk,” said Volckmann. “That means I am not in a public area of the library, but rather in a work room doing some other tasks. Those could include looking at budget numbers to make sure we’re on track for ordering new library materials. I have to make sure we’re spending our money purchasing things that patrons are looking for. I spend a lot of time reading book reviews to see what new material we should add to our collections. I recently ordered extra copies of the new book ‘The Great Alone,’ by Kristin Hannah, because there has been a huge demand for it.”
Volckmann also spends much of her day providing customer service in the library’s public area. Her customer service duties may entail sitting at an information desk and answering questions from patrons or helping them use library resources. She may be called upon to assist patrons in the library’s computer lab or helping them navigate bookshelves for reading material. Or, she may take a shift at the front desk, helping patrons check out resources or answering the telephone.
“On a typical day, I could be in a lot of places and doing a lot of different things,” Volckmann said. “The most rewarding part of the job is definitely working with our patrons. I love when I help someone, and afterwards they say ‘Wow, that was so easy,’ or ‘I’m so glad I came in, so I could get your help with that.’ That’s what we’re here for: to help people use our resources.”
Volckmann added that questions from patrons normally fall into two categories: borrowing, renewing, and paying fines on library materials or requests for help with technology. Among the more unusual interactions she recalls was a request for assistance paying an inadvertently missed I-PASS toll online and help finding photographs of fashion from the 1940s. Among the more intriguing patrons she has encountered was an actor playing Abraham Lincoln who, fresh from appearing at a local school event, showed up at the library in full costume.
“Victoria’s a very cheerful person,” said Hannah Singleton, the library’s young adult services coordinator. “It’s hard to be in a bad mood when she’s around, and that creates a positive working atmosphere.”
“Victoria is professional and polite to everyone whether the person is another co-worker, parent, child, or a homeless man just needing a safe place and a smiling face for part of his day,” said Pekin Public Library Director Jeff Brooks.
Perhaps it is because of her positive outlook that Volckmann enjoys her work. She believes that she finds working as a librarian stimulating because of the unpredictable nature of the job.
“I try to focus on what I can do in a given moment,” she said. “When I’m on a desk, that means helping the person in front of me. There are so many different things going on that I’m not doing the same thing over and over. There’s always something new to help a patron with.”
“Victoria’s first day was the day we started unboxing books to put on the shelves in our newly remodeled building, and she just jumped right in,” Brooks stated. “She is not afraid of taking on more responsibilities and sees them as an opportunity for her own growth as a librarian. Following her first year here, Victoria was initially given the oversight of our student pages, and later over new materials processing and interlibrary loans. She is growing more knowledgeable and confident as a supervisor and makes sure her staff has the resources they need to be successful.”