Sales and the Stacks: A Library Show Through the Eyes of Crowley Reps

Next week at the ALA Annual Conference in Chicago, Illinois, the Crowley reps will take to the exhibit hall to demonstrate a wide variety of scanners, software and services in Booth 2438. On-hand will be book and document scanners, patron microfilm scanners, digital hosting solutions and 71MP cameras for end-user integration. In anticipation of this event, I sat down with two of Crowley’s sales representatives, Robie Harris (RH) and Zak Lubchansky (ZL), to get their take on libraries and the conferences that have become a part of our yearly schedule.

Before I share their words, though, it’s important to understand the difference in the two primary library segments that Crowley serves: back-office and patron. “Back-office” refers to documents, archives and special collections that are typically digitized by librarians, library archivists or other specialists. Back-office projects tend to be high-volume, confidential and/or physically sensitive (such as a rare book or a hand-written letter from a well-known figure) and require scanners or services that are engineered to cultural heritage preservation standards. “Patron,” which we also sometimes call “walk-up,” refers to scanners placed in public areas and available for use by any library patron. These would typically include microfilm readers, book scanners and traditional copy systems.

Robie Harris demonstrates the Zeutschel zeta book scanner for attendees at the 2017 ALA Midwinter Conference.

Q: Why does Crowley attend ALA and other library-related conferences each year? 

RH: Crowley has deep ties with the library community. Between our imaging services and hardware offerings, we’ve served various academic, federal, local and private libraries from all over the world. The ALA Midwinter and Annual conferences provide a forum where all the subsets of the library world congregate, making it a great place for us to reconnect with past clients, introduce ourselves to new clients, learn about new market needs and demonstrate our latest scanners and solutions that are specific to library archivists and patrons.

Q: What are you most excited to show to ALA attendees this year?

ZL: This will be my first appearance at an ALA conference, so I’m looking forward to meeting the crowd. The product I’m most excited to show is probably Crowley’s IMAGEhost software because it offers a unique solution to hosting microfilm records. Many people think that if they are unable to afford their own IT infrastructure for their records, there is no hope for creating an affordable public access repository. When we show these clients the IMAGEhost software, it feels like we’re breaking down a wall for users to finally obtain that goal.

RH: At every show lately, I’m excited to demo the advancements made to the Crowley ODS overhead document scanner. This is the first time the patron scanner will show as a full market release to the ALA community and I think they will notice that the feedback they’ve provided us in past conference previews has been taken into consideration for the market release.

Q: What is your favorite aspect of libraries?

RH: I love the history. In reality, books are only a part of what libraries offer. Libraries also act as crucial repositories for important local and national archives such as newspapers, genealogy records, personal papers and other collections. When you go to a library show, you get to hear about all the different cultural preservation and archival projects that libraries are undertaking and each project has its own significance within history. It is always thrilling to see or hear about a collection and discover a part of history that you’ve never heard of before.

ZL: “Library” is one of those purely positive words. Not many people have negative feelings or thoughts associated with the institution as a whole. That’s absolutely what I love about libraries.

Q: Technology has become a huge aspect of libraries. How is technology improving the experiences of library patrons and staff?

RH: There are so many ways. With digitization, libraries are able to provide documents, information, photos and more to their customers almost immediately. This serves patrons who need information fast and library staff that need to quickly move on to the next request. The same goes for in-library scanning and reading services; the technology in software interfaces and hardware have advanced so much that patrons can navigate through the software independently rather than needing a librarian walk them through the process. It’s all about creating a simpler, faster experience for both staff and patrons.

ZL: I agree and think speed and access are incredibly important elements in library technology. Users want a wealth of information and they want it immediately. Today’s technological gains have propelled the library community towards offering widespread access at a remarkable speed, which is fantastic and, as Robie mentioned, saves time for staff and patrons. It also allows for virtual library visits, making information just a mouse click away.

Zak Lubchansky studies up on the latest Crowley scanner: the ODS overhead book and document scanner.

Q: Has this technology changed the culture of libraries over the past few years?  

RH: I think it’s altered the dynamic of libraries for the better. Libraries are embracing technology to better their services while still enticing people to come through the doors. It’s easy to take the access that technology offers and stop engaging patrons on a more personal level but libraries work hard to keep that human interaction. Libraries have never been just a resource for information; it’s a community and an all-encapsulating experience.

Q: If you could spend on day in your library uninterrupted, what would you read?

RH: I’d become an expert on the Revolutionary War or American colonialism. I’ve always been interested in that period of time.

ZL: I have a list of things I’d like to study but foreign languages are on the top of the list.

Q: What do you hope to accomplish at this year’s conference?  

RH: I hope the attendees walk away from the Crowley booth with a kick in their step. Seeing our products will hopefully give them a renewed sense of excitement about the possibilities for their collections or their patron scanning services.

ZL: I hope to meet face-to-face with as many people as possible and establish relationships that will lead to successful partnerships for many years to come…and I hope to score some free books.

Sorry to break it to you, Zak, but you might be too busy in the booth to cruise for free reads. Luckily, this summer’s hot new mystery novel will be available right in the Crowley booth! Award-winning novelist, Abby Geni, will be signing 25 free copies of her book, The Lightkeepers, on both Saturday and Sunday of the conference and has also generously offered to raffle off two sets of her short story collection, The Last Animal.


Stop by Booth #2438, meet our reps, and demo the units mentioned above. Click here for a free exhibit-only pass. Use the code: V140

Not headed to ALA? You can always have Crowley come to you, click here to request a demo.

The Crowley Company is a full-solution imaging partner. From micrographics equipment and microfilm to desktop and production scanners to patron systems and conversion services, The Crowley Company has aided records managers, archivists, librarians, researchers, students and others throughout the world with archival preservation, records management and digitization solutions.


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