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#30940 - 02/03/03 12:27 PM When good libraries go bad ....
graceless
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/23/01
Posts: 574
Loc: Illinois

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I hope this goes here. So I go to my local public library, the one I have been going to since I was five, or maybe even younger, and they have completely taken away my beloved card catalogue, they have now switched to a very sloooow computer which isn't helpful at all. They used to have both, which was fine because as much as I love technology I prefer to use the card catalogue, which if you know how to use it it is a lot faster than a really old computer.

I wasn't the only one that was disgruntled about this situation, several people of all ages were mad about this waiting in line behind me to use it - I couldn't do anything it other than wait for the slow computer to bring up anything on my subject of choice - so while we waited and waited for the computer search to come up, many of us voiced our complaints that we would all be done by now with the normal card catalogue. I brought this up with the library page - that's what the call the high schoolers who work there - and asked if they had completely thrown out the old card catalogue and the young lady said "Yeah, it is so much easier now." Well maybe for you because you were obviously never taught how to use the card catalogue system! I couldn't find anything and left without checking out any books, going back to my college library with it's card catalogue (and even better computer search).

Now I ask you my fellow readers, this is probably a normal practice in most libraries, but does it bother you as it did me?
_________________________
"Sometimes I doubt your committment to Sparkle Motion!" - Donnie Darko

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#30941 - 02/03/03 03:13 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Catness
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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I loathe and mourn the demise of the card catalog. When I saw a computer in place of the old familiar boxy case of drawers, I literally welled up with tears. With the old system, I could zip in and out and be done. Or pull out a whole drawer and browse for a good long time. No more.

One good thing, and only one, that has come from the computerization, is that I can go to the library online and after logging my card number, search for, reserve, and even have transferred from one branch to another, any book I can find.

Other than that, though, the lack of a real card catalog? Sucks. (My apologies to any of our resident librarians out there--I can see how the computerization might make your job easier, and none of those tedious index cards to fiddle with--but still.)

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#30942 - 02/04/03 08:26 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
crumpet2
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/17/02
Posts: 719

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I liked card catalogues, but I adapted well when the libraries became computerized.

On a slightly related topic, I'm not sure whether the young whippersnappers (as opposed to aged aged me! ;\) ) are adapting to computerized systems either. (Perhaps adapting is the wrong word since many never knew the card catalogue.) On a bus, I overheard some college students talking about research papers that were due that week.

"I looked *everywhere* for information," said the keener to the slacker.
"Where?"
"Well the Internet, of course. But I searched Google *and* Yahoo."
"What about the library?"
"Library?" *snort of derision*

Then they discussed the difficulty they were having with the bibliography. The style sheet apparently hadn't been updated since "the time of books." From what I gathered, all they had to reference were web sites.

In my job I have a lot of students coming to me for information for term papers. They want me to find articles for them, not to use necessarily, but to reference. I ask them if they've been to the library, and they haven't. They rely on "resource people" to provide them with material. So I usually give them a few references and tell them to find the journals in their libraries. But I wonder, do they even have the skills to find the journals?

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#30943 - 02/04/03 11:30 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Catness
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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That's so sad, crumpet.

Don't get me wrong, I love my computer and the Internet, but the most valuable thing that libraries and the card catalog taught me was how to look things up and cross referencing. It's not about knowing the answers, it's more important to know how to find the answers.

I run into the "people resource" type questions all the time. In fact, so much of my time has been taken up at work by individuals who don't even bother to look in an application's help menu or online help (it's right THERE) to figure out how to do something in say, FrameMaker or Acrobat, that I am now required to preface my answers with the question "Did you look in the manual?" Or I go over to their desk, find the spot in the online manual or help menu for them, then walk away.

See, that's what a good card catalog taught me. (Don't even get me started on friends who have computers of their own who can't manage to find stuff online either--even after I've pointed out where I look stuff up.)

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#30944 - 02/04/03 11:50 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
crumpet2
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/17/02
Posts: 719

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I know, Catness. It is sad. I think even using an index in the back of a book is beyond many people these days.
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#30945 - 02/05/03 03:14 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Reni
Ching Shih


Registered: 02/22/01
Posts: 186

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I remember how relieved I felt when I realized in college that the computerized card catalog only included works acquired past a certain date (sometime in the 70s), so that the rows and rows of card catalogs (and my dim remembrance of being taught how to use them in elementary school) were still useful in finding the millions of pre-70s acquisitions the library had. (It was an old school.) Then, whenever I checked out a book found via card catalog and the person checking me out would enter it in the system, I would feel like I was making one more book available to those who only used the online catalog.

I found the same thing to be true, only less dramatically, at my current university - the school is a few centuries newer and they've catalogued back a little farther, but the paper index still has items that the online one doesn't.

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#30946 - 06/18/03 04:39 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
tangentgirl
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/25/03
Posts: 97
Loc: Long Beach, CA

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Hint - cool piece of furniture: old card catalogue cabinet.
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#30947 - 06/19/03 10:40 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Kristin K
Ching Shih


Registered: 03/31/03
Posts: 109
Loc: Durham, NC

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My local library has gone insane. They have gotten rid of the card catalogue, but they have not designated a computer specifically for electronic searches. Their catalogue software runs on their internet machines, so that you have to sign up for a time to browse, competing with everyone who comes to the library for basic web use. Plus, they only have 3 machines to begin with. It's absolutely ridiculous.
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#30948 - 06/26/03 08:39 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Lothlorien
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/13/03
Posts: 39

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I miss the friendly librarians. Nowadays, they seem to just beep out the books for you. I miss the days of good old librarians suggesting books for reading, telling you to be quiet, asking if you're okay...

No offense meant to librarians at all - it's the system, and I'm writing this based on my experiences at the public library. No longer is it a quiet, calm place to read. It's always buzzing - and it's more about the movies than the books, nowadays. Everyone seems to want videos and music CDs rather than books.

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#30949 - 06/27/03 12:43 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
GoblinShark
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/18/01
Posts: 46

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The local library by my place has gone completely insane. It was completely remodeled over the winter, which seems to have lead to a major cull of the fiction section. There are more DVD's for rent then books(fiction)! What novels they do have are in a pitiful state. *sigh* It's no wonder that the Borders across the street gets more business.
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#30950 - 06/29/03 09:42 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
FishDreamer Administrator
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/27/01
Posts: 2804
Loc: Windy City USA

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Nicholson Baker wrote a long, involved piece on this very issue. It's in his fabulon book, The Size of Thought. I don't visit the library often (except to wax nostalgic, since my local isn't that comprehensive), so I hadn't noticed. But I used to work in the library, in elementary school and in college, and it just breaks my heart to think what's been lost along with all those cards. All the notes on the back, all the cross-references, all the history in those little cards, all gone.
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#30951 - 07/03/03 12:40 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
YesABibliophile
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/27/03
Posts: 411
Loc: Iowa

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I have to say that our library, while it *did* throw out the card catalogue (I cried for two days), it did manage to switch over fairly easily and with plenty of preparation for the residents. They had the computers up and running, getting the bugs out while they had the card catalogue still in the library. Then they gave all kinds of hours, to tutor people on how to use the computer system.

They also only donate so much space to CDs, DVDs, VHS stock. It's still primarily books, magazines and newspapers.

I like the internet and how I can access the info online and reserve books. Yet, I miss the cards and drawers...

Recently, I went to an auction, a woman had been a librarian for 30+ years and brought home her library's catalogue after they had switched over to the PC. I bid hot and heavy against two other women for it, but lost my nerve (and lost out) when the item went for over $300.
_________________________
"What wild desires, what restless torments seize the hapless man, who feels the book-disease." -John Ferriar 1888

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#30952 - 10/26/03 01:11 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
F E Mae
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/20/03
Posts: 145
Loc: USA

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I used to work in an acquistions department for a library, and as we became more and more automated---we (the employees) became less and less in numbers. It was done very quietly, but quite obviously. Now, the acquisitions department employs about 5 people, all part-time. When I worked there (27 years ago), we had about 9 people, 3 part time, but 6 full time. Not only are there now fewer people, they also need not pay benefits to the part timers. Sad, yes, very, considering this is a very large library and is much larger than when I worked there.

To construct the necessary information for a card catalog system seemed to require more people. The computer catalog hardly needs much done to it but someone to enter data and wait for the bar code stickers to spat out of the printer. Is this more efficient, and thus less costly? Certainly it is, if fewer people are needed to type out catalog cards, and the cards and pockets that are in the books. However, a glance at our library system budget shows a great deal of cost is in the labor column---and I am not sure our book collection is so hot, either---but gosh, we have plenty of computers for use by patrons in accessing the Internet!

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#30953 - 10/26/03 02:48 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
cloonez
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/22/01
Posts: 71
Loc: Kingston, ON

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Is it bad that I've never used a proper card catalogue? Ever?

For as long as I can remember, our public libraries have had electronic indexes. Then a few years ago, they switched from their ancient program that could only be used on library computers to a web-based catalogue. Now I can run all my searches at home, have the books transferred to my local branch and pick them up when the library calls me to let me know that they've all arrived. I guess if I'd grown up with card catalogues, I might be a bit nostalgic for them, but this is just so much more convenient.

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#30954 - 10/26/03 04:53 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
AltoidsAddict
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/30/00
Posts: 129
Loc: Denver, Colorado, USA

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drool.

My freshman year college had a card catalog, and I practically wept for joy when seeing it. The genealogy department of the Denver Public Library uses a card catalog, too. It is absolutely indispensable - computers go down, and I remember when libraries were searchable in daylight during a power outage. Now, there's no way to find your book if the computers are down.

Y'all would love reading Cliff Stoll. In Silicon Snake Oil, he has a rather long chapter on the demise of the card catalog.

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#30955 - 11/06/03 01:00 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
shrew
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/09/00
Posts: 207

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When I used the card catalogue, I used to find so many cool books that I wasn't searching for. First, there would be the related topics in the catalogue itself, and then there would be the books in the same section of the library when I went to find whatever book I needed.

If all I do is go online, search for a particular book, reserve it, pick it up, and leave, then I miss all of that great browsing and all of those amazing "accidental" books.

Not to say that you can't browse online, but the more detached we become from the library itself, the less we can discover there. And I think that's sad.

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#30956 - 01/27/04 01:20 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
anna_karina
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 143

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When the library changed in my town, I hated it. I remembered when I was a little girl, and the computers were a rare treat, just three of them, you had to sign up for a half hour, and I'd type a little story or play Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? But now it's all computers, and people use it like a Blockbuster or to use the Internet. I love going through bookshelves and feeling books and finding things by call numbers and scanning everything. But when I went into the children's section (to find old Judy Blume books), there were six computers set up, and all the kids were there, nobody was looking at the books. It broke my heart to see that, as I grew up loving books more than television or movies. I liked them, but I loved books more, and was teased for that, always carrying a book with me in case I got bored. My sister never reads, all she does is watch crap on TV and blast music in her car. The only books she reads are fluff novels, diet books, and "Indian astrology/finding yourself" type of books. I bought her Sarah Vowell's book, seeing as my sister likes Conan O'Brien a lot, and Sarah has a similar sense of humor.
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#30957 - 01/29/04 09:06 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
rh dorsty
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 57

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Slow computers, no computers and dour librarians aside, the tremendous advantage of a computerized database over the old Title/Author/Subject card catalog is multiple points of access. A full-search database can pull up materials through the use of patron-selected keywords, unlike the old system, where if you did not know the complete title of the book, or the author's name, you were out of luck. More importantly, if you were looking for a book on a specific topic and did not happen to have memorized the official accepted list of subject headings (yes, it's true, librarians don't come up with those subject heading on their own) you had to hope and pray some librarian had forseen your dilemma and and provided a "See" cross reference card. And those official subject headings had, in some cases, not changed for decades and were absurdly non-intuitive. Keeping up with all those "See's" and "See Also's" was time consuming and annoying.

Card catalogs also required that someone manually file all those cards, as books and other resources were acquired, in their proper alphabetical spots. A mistake in filing and the resource may as well not exist.

Since going computerized, most libraries have also been able to make their own catalogs, as well as the local regional catalog, available for searching on the web. I often go online before leaving home to check whether a book I want is part of my library's holdings (and, if so, if it's currently checked in) and, if it isn't, whether it is available for interlibrary loan from another library. I also check my own records to make sure I haven't forgotten anything I've got checked out and is now due before I set off.

Finally, as a librarian, the database gave me the ability to easily run call-number bibliographies. This was invaluable in terms of acquisition: by checking the pub date of the titles in a certain section (pure and applied science and history/geography are two pertinent ones) I could quickly determine if an area contained a large number of outdated books and thus needed weeding and updating. This was something that could not be done with a card catalog, and required that one stand there and examine all the books on the shelf by hand. While I might ultimately want to do this once a lagging area within the collection was pinpointed, it really saved time in identifying areas that needed attention (and provided a good document to use in funding requests) and allowed me to focus on the acquisitions end of things, i.e. finding the exciting new stuff.

Personally, I can't think of any reason to prefer the old card system to the new databases, as long as the playing field is level and there are sufficient computers in service.

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#30958 - 07/07/04 02:21 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
anna_karina
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/21/04
Posts: 143

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True. I think it's just that there is so much dependence on computers that, were they to crash, they may not have backup information printed out or saved in files.

I guess for small libaries I like card catalogs. In my high school library there were both computer ones and the card catalog, and I preferred the latter, because I liked searching through it all. I graduated a few years ago, and it's probably gone by now.

Also, when they have so many DVDs and CDs (they got rid of the cassette albums), it feels like a free Blockbuster, and I hate that.

 Quote:
When I used the card catalogue, I used to find so many cool books that I wasn't searching for. First, there would be the related topics in the catalogue itself, and then there would be the books in the same section of the library when I went to find whatever book I needed.

If all I do is go online, search for a particular book, reserve it, pick it up, and leave, then I miss all of that great browsing and all of those amazing "accidental" books.

Not to say that you can't browse online, but the more detached we become from the library itself, the less we can discover there. And I think that's sad.
Thank you, shrew. This is what I loved as well.

They don't stamp books anymore! They give you a freakin' reciept. I hate it so much. I love the stamp, it feels more genuine, more real. I hate how the world is changing, and people are infantilized in mainstream society so much.

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#30959 - 07/07/04 03:01 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Ria Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/01/01
Posts: 497
Loc: Massachusetts, USA

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You hate the videos and DVDs at the library? I have to say that I love them. I've been checking out the Buffy DVDs from my local library and have watched 5 seasons' worth so far. I think it's an excellent service.
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#30960 - 07/07/04 03:06 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
MamaAlanna
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/05/03
Posts: 262
Loc: Maryland

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While I miss the old card catalogs (and as shrew said, the probability that I'd find some neat thing as well as what I was looking for) I'm not sorry that my county library system went to computers. They didn't have a card catalog -- they had catalog books! Yes, bound hardback volumes, that they updated every couple of years. New books? Forget it. If you couldn't find them on the shelf, you were SOL, because the staff couldn't find them either. Bleah! :p
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#30961 - 07/07/04 04:55 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
miercoles
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 877
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI

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My university library still stamps the books, but I get receipts from the library. The receipts are useless, because if I don't lose them, I'll forget which of the books listed I renewed.

However, the online services of my library are awesome -- I can request and renew books online -- so I just wait for the reminder email which is sent three days before the due date.

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#30962 - 07/07/04 06:34 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
voiceofreason
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/27/02
Posts: 1257
Loc: Brookline, MA, USA

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Ooh, reminder emails! That would save me a lot of dimes.
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#30963 - 07/07/04 06:46 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Catness
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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My library sends out reminder e-mails (or regular postal mail if you choose) when hold requests come in and about four days before an item is due.

It's wonderful.

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#30964 - 07/07/04 08:10 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
miercoles
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/29/00
Posts: 877
Loc: Ann Arbor, MI

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I just tried the self check-out at the library for the first time tonight. I'd never even noticed it before, because usually I'm picking up a book on hold. But tonight I was in a rush, and there was a long line at the desk, so it was very quick to go to the self-service station.

Has anyone else tried this? What do you think? I'm not particularly social, but it felt weird to go to the library and not interact with anyone. I think part of me is like Francie Nolan, and hoping that the librarians recognize me.

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#30965 - 07/07/04 09:10 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Ria Moderator
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/01/01
Posts: 497
Loc: Massachusetts, USA

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I loved the self-checkout at the library I went to in California. I never ever went through manned checkout stations. I grew up in a small town where I felt very self-conscious about what books I checked out, so I liked the anonymity of no one knowing what I had decided to read.
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#30966 - 07/07/04 09:32 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
sunflow
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/12/00
Posts: 1156
Loc: Brighton, UK

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Ria, that sounds wonderful, especially since the books I check out of the library are the ones I'm not sure I want to buy yet, for one reason or another. Until I decide if I like a book, I don't necessarily want to be associated with it. This goes double for times when I'm checking out a book by right-wing conservatives -- I want to know what they're up to, but I always feel like I should explain why I'm reading it.

Plus, that would ensure that I never again had to check out an especially violent copy of The Preacher (with a cover to match) from a woman who resembles my grandmother.

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#30967 - 07/08/04 07:21 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
deborah Administrator
Chief Bibliofreak
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/27/00
Posts: 3901
Loc: Funkytown

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Man, I would love a self-checkout. That would rock. Then, among other things, nobody could police me taking out more books per subject than allowed. Mwa-ha-ha!

Seriously, I am the person self-checkouts were invented for. I love the one at the grocery store. The less interaction I have to have with strangers and employees of other businesses, the better.

I also would love e-mail reminders of due dates. God, I would love that.

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#30968 - 07/08/04 07:47 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Promethea
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 957

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They have those in my local libraries (plural correct; I frequent about four regularly as they're all fairly near). My one concern about them is that I hope they're not used to cut back on library assistants. If they caught on, could they be used to justify having less staff on each shift? I don't want to contribute to that, but maybe I'm just being paranoid.
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#30969 - 07/08/04 08:40 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
dazey
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 941
Loc: Edinburgh, Scotland

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 Quote:
My one concern about them is that I hope they're not used to cut back on library assistants.
Promethea: in my experience, that's exactly what they're about. I was made redundant (from an academic library, not a public one) in favour of self-issue machines, a couple of years ago. Not that self-issue machines can recommend books, or tell you where to find things, or fix the computer or photocopier you've broken, or issue the non-standard size books that the machines choke on... it's not that I'm still bitter, you understand, of course - it was exactly the kick up the arse I needed to get a job where I was accorded some value.

Or perhaps I am still bitter.

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#30970 - 07/08/04 03:42 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
voiceofreason
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/27/02
Posts: 1257
Loc: Brookline, MA, USA

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 Quote:
Originally posted by dazey:
Not that self-issue machines can recommend books, or tell you where to find things, or fix the computer or photocopier you've broken, or issue the non-standard size books that the machines choke on...
Heh -- my first thought on reading this: as far as performance on any of those tasks goes, most of my student circulation desk employees could easily be replaced by a self-issue machine. (Not really, though; they do a lot of shelving. And some of them are very good! Please don't be offended and quit! I'm sorry I'm such a bad manager!)

Also, I was going to post about how much fun it is to stamp things, and how I can't imagine why a library would want to give up on stamping books (except it can save a lot of time, which I appreciate when I'm in a long line at the public library, and there are always long lines at my public library) but I've put my arm down on the inkpad twice in the last half-hour and I think I'm beginning to understand.

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#30971 - 07/08/04 05:31 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
sunflow
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/12/00
Posts: 1156
Loc: Brighton, UK

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I haven't had a book stamped in ages! My library does everything through bar codes and scanners, and prints a receipt of everything you check out. It's actually quite frustrating, because I always forget when things are due, and have to contantly check my account online. Also, I miss that satisfying "thump" of the stamp hitting the book.

I feel like a dolt for not thinking about the downsizing that auto-checkout machines might cause. Although I do prefer them (because I am frequently crabby and antisocial), I hate to support anything that could lead to fewer library jobs!

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#30972 - 07/09/04 07:31 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
VegetarianOnHiatus
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/18/02
Posts: 1089
Loc: Somerville, MA, USA

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My public library also recently switched to the all-computer receipt system. They used to check a book out on the computer, and also stamp a card with the due date and put in the pocket in the back of the book. Those cards made very handy bookmarks. These days all I get with my books is a printed receipt which is too flimsy to mark my place. I hate the things. I find them lying around and think, "I took out what? Did I return it? Dang!" At least they haven't gone to the self-issue machines. I hope they don't because the library employs high school students as check-out clerks, and I wish I'd had that job when I was in high school instead of taking orders and flipping burgers.
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#30973 - 07/10/04 10:33 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
FishDreamer Administrator
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/27/01
Posts: 2804
Loc: Windy City USA

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I'm all cranky and apprehensive about the fact that two of the books I returned to the library on July 1 are still listed as being checked out to me, and one of them was due the 1st. I need to take the rest of my books back tomorrow and see if I can straighten this out, but the library is all computerized now and I don't know how in the world I'll be able to prove that I returned them, especially since they're not kept in that branch - they were both inter-library loans.

This does not please me. I've been using the library frequently, and this is the first time I've had a problem. To make it even worse, it's volumes 3 & 4 or L.M. Montgomery's journals, which are out of print. And I know I returned them - I had 2 CDs and 4 books and those were definitely two of them. Did somebody forget to scan them back in or something?

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#30974 - 07/10/04 11:47 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Selena
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/29/03
Posts: 720
Loc: Grand Bahama, Bahamas

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Yikes, FishDreamer! I hope they're able to track down your books.

A couple of months ago, a video I'd returned was still showing on my record, so I went in and pointed out the error to one of the clerks. She told me to check again at home, and I said that I would, even though I knew I'd returned it. I didn't feel up to kicking up more of a fuss at the time. The next time I checked my record, the video had been cleared, but I didn't hear back from the library saying that they'd made a mistake, or anything like that.

I'm paranoid about my interlibrary loans; I always take them straight to the desk to get them signed in.

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#30975 - 07/18/04 08:20 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Selena
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/29/03
Posts: 720
Loc: Grand Bahama, Bahamas

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FishDreamer, did you get everything sorted out?
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#30976 - 07/18/04 09:43 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
anotherjen
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/26/04
Posts: 50
Loc: Baltimore, MD

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Speaking of stamping books...

I worked at my university library when I was an undergrad and instead of the stamp we would put a sticker (sort of like a price sticker) on the corner of the back cover. Some of my patrons hated it saying that we were defacing the books and I had to agree... it looked horrible and left the book covers all sticky.

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#30977 - 07/18/04 09:58 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
FishDreamer Administrator
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/27/01
Posts: 2804
Loc: Windy City USA

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I did get it sorted. They sent someone up to check if the books were on the shelf because apparently neither of them were inter-library loans (so why they had little stickers on the front with other library names remains a mystery).

Lucky for me, both books were there. I have no idea what they would have done if the books were missing, but I was lucky this time. They took the overdue fines off my record and both librarians I talked to were mystified as to how two books could have been missed at check-in. This also fills me with apprehension, but at least it was all taken care of.

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#30978 - 07/20/04 05:14 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
MamaAlanna
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/05/03
Posts: 262
Loc: Maryland

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 Quote:
Originally posted by FishDreamer:
both librarians I talked to were mystified as to how two books could have been missed at check-in. This also fills me with apprehension, but at least it was all taken care of.
Eh, that's easy to do. Whole stack of books to be checked in, your two in the librarian's hand, and someone distracts her. She sets them down and when she comes back (or someone else continues the job) thinks that they've been checked in.

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#30979 - 07/30/04 01:01 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
ProfessorMcSmartyPants
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Registered: 07/30/04
Posts: 9
Loc: Binghamton, NY

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"Eh, that's easy to do. Whole stack of books to be checked in, your two in the librarian's hand, and someone distracts her. She sets them down and when she comes back (or someone else continues the job) thinks that they've been checked in"

Just a point of clarification. Librarians have masters degrees and don't usually check out books. The people that you see at the check out desk are usually clerks (usually a civil service job) or student aides.

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#30980 - 07/30/04 01:26 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Catness
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/02/02
Posts: 1863
Loc: Chicago, Illinois

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Heya, ProfessorMcSmartyPants! Welcome to chicklit!

To make your quoted text easier to read, check out the UBB FAQ which provides all sorts of instructions on how to code in UBB. It's very easy once you get the hang of it.

Also, have a gander at chicklit's shiny, new FAQ .

Of course, we'd love to know more about you, so hop on over to our meet and greet thread .

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#30981 - 08/10/04 11:28 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
LauraT
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/04/01
Posts: 161
Loc: Redwood City, CA, USA

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anotherjen, the public library in my college town did that too. They had one of those price sticker guns (except these stickers had the due date on them) and slapped a sticker on the front of every book. It worked ok, since all the hardbacks had the clear covers on them, and all the paperbacks are slick already, but I would have hated to be the person who had to peel all of them off after the books were returned!
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#30982 - 09/15/04 06:22 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
tripichik88
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 08/26/04
Posts: 4
Loc: Northwest of Normal in Eugene,...

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 Quote:
I feel like a dolt for not thinking about the downsizing that auto-checkout machines might cause. Although I do prefer them (because I am frequently crabby and antisocial), I hate to support anything that could lead to fewer library jobs!
After reading this thread, I feel very fortunate to be a volunteer at the Eugene Public Library which moved into shiny new digs in December 2002. So lovely to live in a town where the voters repeatedly demonstrate their support of the library by approving bond issues. Alas, I have no head for figures or I'd recall the specifics of how our townspeople read a phenomenal number of books per person per year. They volunteer in great numbers too.

Our automated check-out pioneered the use of RFID tags in Oregon. The system isn't quite as effortless as it was depicted in the original glowing descriptions: we had visions of being able to check out huge stacks of books in seconds. IRL the books must be carefully stacked in short piles on the sensor, but the touchscreen system works so well that all check-out stations function as self-check. Many relish the privacy afforded by a self-check system. Circulation staff are readily available to help, troubleshoot, accept fee payments, and hand out holds, lots and lots of holds. Check-in is also automated -- a conveyor belt transports books through a system of scanners and sorters.

Despite all this automation, the number of paid staff has increased, in part to meet the increased demand that I understand always results when a library expands in a new site. Many staff members now have more interesting jobs since they're no longer stuck doing the mind-numbing chores required to check in and rough sort books at the old site. The new library offers far more programs, especially for teens. Hmmm, I guess this really belongs in a "When good libraries get better" thread.

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#30983 - 12/02/04 10:36 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
sophietje
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/19/02
Posts: 318
Loc: Buffalo, NY, USA, Earth, The U...

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I'm not sure where exactly I should post this, but here seems as good as any.

So in order to win an award for biggest asshat in the universe, the only budget that our county executive put forth includes closing all of the Buffalo and Erie County libraries . Dec 7th is the last day to borrow books and they must all be returned by dec 28th. We're also losing snowplowing(!), the zoo, the parks, blah blah blah, but it's the libraries that has everyone spitting angry.
The county exec says we can avoid this scortched-earth approach if the county board agrees to a 1% sales tax increase (making it 9.25%), but evindently he's not willing to make bigger sacrafices like firing his personal driver who earns $81,000/year.

So this isn't really a case of "when good libraries go bad"... more like "when an excellent library get screwed."

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#30984 - 12/03/04 03:20 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
blueberry
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/21/04
Posts: 187
Loc: Jhb, RSA

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sophietje that is shocking. And the site says they're shutting down all the libraries! They cut the new books budget to all Johannesburg libraries in 2000, and I was mortified, but at least they didn't shut them down. That is just not justifiable.
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#30985 - 12/03/04 06:56 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Promethea
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 957

Offline
It must be a bargaining stunt, surely? No sane council could seriously propose closing all libraries? Assholes. The best of luck with that campaign, I can think of few more important.
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#30986 - 12/03/04 07:38 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
deborah Administrator
Chief Bibliofreak
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/27/00
Posts: 3901
Loc: Funkytown

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What? What??!!

Sorry for all the punctuation, but this is a pretty dire situation. It really does sound like a bargaining stunt. And even if it is, and they have no real intention of following through, that's a bullshit thing to put the public and all the library employees through.

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#30987 - 12/03/04 09:20 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
sophietje
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/19/02
Posts: 318
Loc: Buffalo, NY, USA, Earth, The U...

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I also think this is a bargaining stunt. The county exec had no support for the tax hike, so he tried a different approach. He picked things that are most likely to get the public outcry, so the citizens will push the legislators to agree to the 1% tax hike insted. The problem is that there are currently not enough votes for the tax hike, and if they do nothing, this "red budget" will go into effect automatically on Dec 7th.

I think at the least it is making everyone appriciate the libraries more. I've never even been in the main branch, and I'm missing it already.

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#30988 - 12/31/04 10:46 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
LibraryGoddess
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/31/04
Posts: 146

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 Quote:
Originally posted by ProfessorMcSmartyPants:
Just a point of clarification. Librarians have masters degrees and don't usually check out books. The people that you see at the check out desk are usually clerks (usually a civil service job) or student aides.
Thanks for pointing that out. ;\) I am a school librarian, so I do everything, but in Public and University Libraries, the Librarian rarely touches the circulation computer, if ever. The ladies (or men) behind the circ desk rarely even have a college degree much less the required Master Degree to be a Librarian. It always makes me cringe when someone refers to the clerks as librarians. I guess after spending $60,000 to be a Librarian, I get kind of bent out shape about it. ;\)

Regarding a town getting rid of its libraries...
I read an article a few years ago about a particular county in Washington. The residents wanted a referendum about the County Library. Certain RESIDENTS wanted to vote to stop funding a county library. I am not sure what happened with it, but I am pretty sure that it was on the ballot as a question. Can you imagine? It isn't just the people who do the funding/budgeting in the governmental bodies, but now it seems some people don't want their taxes to support a library. I can't even comprehend the thinking that is behind this sort of thinking!

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#30989 - 01/01/05 07:10 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
dazey
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/25/01
Posts: 941
Loc: Edinburgh, Scotland

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 Quote:
The ladies (or men) behind the circ desk rarely even have a college degree much less the required Master Degree to be a Librarian.
Actually, when I was a library assistant (doing circulation etc.) every last one of us had university degrees, and mostly pretty good ones. The pay was lousy and we were mostly not using our qualifications, but there they were. That was a university library in the UK, though, so those might be relevant variables.

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#30990 - 01/02/05 12:23 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
gwenworld
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/12/02
Posts: 90
Loc: Houston, Texas, USA

Offline
Y'all have probably seen this, but in case you haven't -
McSweeney's "Dispatches from a Public Librarian":
http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/librarian/

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#30991 - 04/27/05 11:26 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Promethea
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/24/03
Posts: 957

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Ooh, OOH. I am so mad. I've just been to my local library and they've done this ... thing where along the shelves, every fifth or so book has its cover pulled out so that it flaps alongside the spines of the others. It's hard to describe, but basically you can see a bunch of covers, obscuring all the spines of the other books. I HATE IT! I was looking specifically for something so I had to go along bending back the covers (and, incidentally, this can't be good for them, I bet a bunch fall off) to squint at the spines behind. They've done it with ALL the paperbacks apart from the sci fi and crime which are in racks and also with several shelves of hardback fiction. Is this a new library trend? Does it really work to get people to notice certain books? Is it aimed at those who can only judge books by their covers?
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#30992 - 04/27/05 06:37 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Rain
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/02/03
Posts: 238

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Wow, that is horrible! I can't even imagine why they'd do that. Even in bookstores when they show some books with the cover out, they don't hide the spines of other books behind them.

If I were you, I'd ask them why they did it. You know, in a reasonable tone and everything, but I'd probably also point out the downfalls you mentioned.

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#30993 - 05/13/05 03:57 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
CheshireCat
Ching Shih


Registered: 06/17/02
Posts: 158
Loc: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL USA

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Not everyone who works in a library is a librarian. When I was a library assistant, only three people had the credential, the reference librarian, the children's librarian, and the branch manager. Mostly for the reasons dazey mentions, college level skills are not required for circulation duties, and the pay is so awful that college graduates generally would not accept it. I was the only assistant with a bachelor's degree. I lasted five months.
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#30994 - 06/11/05 03:50 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Molly Malone
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 05/16/05
Posts: 25
Loc: Easten USA

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My Mother was a Children's Librarian and in order to avoid paying for a baby-sitter I went to the Library every day for several summers with her. One "job" she gave me was to insert the new cards into the card catalogue. I really hated it. So, I admit, couldn't be happier to see the computer system come into vogue.

I would love an automated check out. Sometimes the commentary made by the check out crew can be really inane...and often it makes me want to avoid certain people who are doing the checking out. I do realize they are trying to be friendly, but it can feel like a waiter saying, "Yes the clam sauce is great, if you like that kind of stuff"...

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#30995 - 08/07/05 12:26 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
FeelsLikeFriday
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/22/02
Posts: 36
Loc: Hancock, MI, USA

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I work at the local public library- although I love my job, and want to persue my master's degree in library science, I have plenty of gripes! Mostly, I get crabby with the patrons who only come in to use the internet. Although I think it's a great service, a lot of them abuse it, and us workers, in turn. They are just too bossy with us, and I hate that.

And the director at my library is a big dumbhead. That's all I'll say about that!

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#30996 - 08/07/05 09:52 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Ekaterina_dup1
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/16/01
Posts: 238
Loc: USA

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Molly Malone:

I would love an automated check out. Sometimes the commentary made by the check out crew can be really inane...and often it makes me want to avoid certain people who are doing the checking out.
They just finished installing an automated checkout at one of my local libraries, thank goodness!

The commentary gets to me sometimes too. Most recently, I was checking out C.S. Lewis's The Problem of Pain. The clerk told me that I had a 60 cent fine on my account. I didn't realize that, but I believed her, so I handed her a dollar bill. In trying to help me recollect the fine, she told me the titles of two books on depression that I had checked out for a paper I was writing in 2002. I think she felt so bad about the titles, in conjunction with the current book I was checking out three years later, that she waived the fee for me!

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#30997 - 08/09/05 05:53 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Jerusha Mac
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/05/05
Posts: 65
Loc: SF East Bay

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We have self check but I barely ever use it, since I'm usually picking up a couple of books I've put on hold. Like Silicon Snake Oil just now. We have email notification too, which I like and online renewal which I love .

But that said, I miss card catalogs. I hate that you have to know the exact name in order to find a book or an author.

I miss thumbing through other cards for books in that section, in running across a book that looked interesting.

Or as Shrew said:
 Quote:
When I used the card catalogue, I used to find so many cool books that I wasn't searching for. First, there would be the related topics in the catalogue itself, and then there would be the books in the same section of the library when I went to find whatever book I needed.

If all I do is go online, search for a particular book, reserve it, pick it up, and leave, then I miss all of that great browsing and all of those amazing "accidental" books.
And today the library in Livermore CA starts the renovations to the $40,000 sculpture outside their doors that misspelled Shakespeare, Einstein and Michelangelo. (I think only 11 misspellings out of 116, but still.)

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#30998 - 09/14/05 08:35 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Vertiginous Annie
Ching Shih


Registered: 05/12/05
Posts: 38

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It seems as I move, my local libraries get worse and worse. Sigh.
My current library is not bad, really - but small. There is only a 1/2 stack of sci-fi/fantasy, compared to a full wall of bodice-ripping romance. WHY? And the fiction stacks... sigh again. The libraries of my youth you could get lost in.... but thank goodness for inter-library loans (the greater system is well-stocked).

But I must say, the most devestating library experience for me was in Franklin, MA (I used to live in the next town over). It was first public library in America, in a lovely building - but it was one of the worst-stocked, saddest things I've ever seen. It had a good DVD selection, and that's about all. Such a waste, so depressing. So many rooms, so few books.

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#30999 - 09/14/05 12:12 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
claudine
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/11/04
Posts: 76
Loc: new york

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In one library, the romance section was right next to the true crime section. It was disturbing.
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#31000 - 10/31/05 01:38 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
klaradyn
Ching Shih


Registered: 09/12/05
Posts: 358
Loc: Cape Town, South Africa

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I found out today that in my local library the Jane Austen books are shelved in the Young Adult section.
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#31001 - 11/05/05 10:00 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
LibraryGoddess
Ching Shih


Registered: 12/31/04
Posts: 146

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Jerusha, there are ways in an automated catalog to search when you are unsure of how to spell the author's name or if you are unsure of the exact title.

Say, for example, I am looking for "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire", I can just type in "Goblet" in the Title field and it will give me every book with the word Goblet in the title. I use this feature a lot in my library when I sort of know the title I am trying to find for a kid, but not completely.

If you are unsure of the way to spell an author's last name, most card catalogs have a browse type feature where you can type in just the first few letters of the last name and go from there.

Each card catalog is different, depending on the system (brand) it is, but they all have really neat features like that. Next time sit down and just play around with it. You might be surprised!

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#31002 - 12/02/05 05:54 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Jerusha Mac
Ching Shih


Registered: 08/05/05
Posts: 65
Loc: SF East Bay

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Thanks, LibraryGoddess! I just tried it out w/just the word "Geisha" and it didn't bring up the Arthur Golden book, but "memoirs" did (eventually).
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#31003 - 12/28/05 12:55 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
aharrington
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Registered: 04/16/04
Posts: 17
Loc: Rochester, NY

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As a librarian, I have to add - when you can't find something, ask for help at the reference desk. LibraryGoddess gave a very good explanation of the browse feature on the online catalog. I'm so happy that Jeruscha Mac was able to find what she needed! I might have also tried a keyword search using the words Geisha and Arthur Golden. If those words are in a book's record, it will come up
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#31004 - 01/15/06 09:32 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
cocojosie
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/07/03
Posts: 391
Loc: Stockholm/Oxford

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My local library has been transformed into a hairdresser's and a liquor store. A liquor store owned by the state, I might add, since that is the way things are done in Sweden.
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#31005 - 02/14/06 09:27 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
di
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 02/13/06
Posts: 1
Loc: Michigan, USA

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Don't know if I just came into the whole computerized system after they had perfected it at my library -- but I've had little problem with it. I love how I can put things on hold online right from home. My library is also part of a coalition of libraries; so I can reserve things from other libraries, too, and have them sent to my library for pick-up. Nothing's perfect, of course, but my experience has only been good so far.
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-- my son, Nicholas, at 3 years old

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#31006 - 02/15/06 04:29 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
liz_isabella
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/24/04
Posts: 208
Loc: Cape Town, South Africa

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After a period of not using public libraries (there was a blacklisted card, and a fight, and pain, and it's a long story) I have returned and found to my horror that you have to pay R3 per book you'd like to hold or reserve. R3! Paying for the right to reserve! What has the world come to?
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It occurred to me lately that nothing has occurred to me lately.

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#31007 - 02/16/06 08:02 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
chickeninthewoods
Ching Shih


Registered: 01/16/02
Posts: 99
Loc: Chicago area

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Yikes. I wonder if it's an attempt to deter people from reserving a book and then forgetting/changing their mind? That's terribly annoying to staff, even if the extra work isn't substantial. We instituted various small "annoyance" costs like that at libraries I've worked in -- just to make people stop and think about what they're doing.

But still, I'd hope reserving a book, at the very least, would be free.

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#31008 - 02/17/06 06:13 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
liz_isabella
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/24/04
Posts: 208
Loc: Cape Town, South Africa

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I think you're right, that it's to deter people from just not bothering to come pick books up. Then again, our library system is perpetually underfunded that they don't even send out renewal notices anymore. Either you return your books on time or you get fined. If you're fine exceeds R50, then you get blacklisted. And that's a real nightmare to fix. Still, it's an inconvenience.
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It occurred to me lately that nothing has occurred to me lately.

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#31009 - 02/17/06 02:32 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Pflaume
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/30/02
Posts: 451

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liz_isabella: What currency is 'R'?
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#31010 - 02/17/06 02:42 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
snasta
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Registered: 01/13/06
Posts: 11
Loc: Cork, Ireland

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R = rand, I'd say.
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#31011 - 04/19/06 09:52 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
aharrington
Gráinne ni Mhaille


Registered: 04/16/04
Posts: 17
Loc: Rochester, NY

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"I have returned and found to my horror that you have to pay R3 per book you'd like to hold or reserve. R3! Paying for the right to reserve! What has the world come to?"

When library funding is cut, perks and extras have to go. Please don't blame the librarians. As a group, we strongly advocate on many levels for adequate funding.

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#31012 - 04/20/06 03:10 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
liz_isabella
Ching Shih


Registered: 11/24/04
Posts: 208
Loc: Cape Town, South Africa

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 Quote:
Originally posted by Pflaume:
liz_isabella: What currency is 'R'?
I never actually came back to this thread after venting, but yes, Snasta was right, R is rand. It's about R6 to the US $ at the moment, so that's what, R18 per book?

AHarrington, I really feel bad for librarians having to take the heat from annoyed patrons, when it's really not their fault. Like I said, the South African library system is very underfunded and understaffed. Most libraries are maintained entirely by volunteers, making for awkward hours and very uneven quality of service. But the good ones are like gold.
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It occurred to me lately that nothing has occurred to me lately.

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#31013 - 08/12/06 04:26 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Sarahndipity
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Registered: 05/21/06
Posts: 25

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Here's a pretty spectacular example of a good library gone bad. I've recently moved to Indianapolis, and since I got here the renovation and expansion of the downtown library has regularly been front page news in the local papers.

It's been a huge fiasco going way over budget and years past the estimated time frame. Fingers have been pointed, lawsuits have ensued. A tax hike is likely to follow, and budget cuts and a hiring freeze have been instated for libraries across the county-wide system.

It's rather depressing to see what seemed like a good idea go so horribly awry.

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#31014 - 09/05/06 09:59 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Auroranorth
Ching Shih


Registered: 03/30/05
Posts: 318

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 Quote:
Originally posted by cocojosie:
My local library has been transformed into a hairdresser's and a liquor store. A liquor store owned by the state, I might add, since that is the way things are done in Sweden.
So you can shave your head in mourning and then get drunk?

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#31015 - 09/05/06 03:28 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
Pflaume
Ching Shih


Registered: 10/30/02
Posts: 451

Offline
Don't be silly: everyone knows you get drunk first, and then shave your head.

I'm assuming the library was also owned by the state? Did they decide that liquor was more of a 'public good' than libraries?

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#31016 - 11/14/06 01:20 PM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
VegetarianOnHiatus
Ching Shih


Registered: 07/18/02
Posts: 1089
Loc: Somerville, MA, USA

Offline
Grr. I just discovered that a book I have on hold is expiring today, so I called the public library and asked if they could hold it an extra day. No, because apparently they have this automated system and it has to go back to its original library or the computer will explode or something.

It seems like a silly system - now I have to re-request the book, which makes more work for them. And also, the person I spoke to was very curt and unfriendly, and made me feel like an idiot for asking. They say it never hurts to ask, but sometimes it kinda does.

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#31017 - 03/29/07 08:36 AM Re: When good libraries go bad ....
AlchemyGirl
Ching Shih


Registered: 04/10/05
Posts: 175

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Oh good, a place to rant about my library.

I'm a grad student at an Ivy League university. One would think that said Ivy League University would have an amazing library. One would be wrong. Our university library is a joke. A sick, twisted shell of a research library. Every time I go to the stacks to find a few books, at least one of them is missing -- completely vanished from the shelves. I then have to ask the librarian to "trace" the book for me before I am allowed to request it from another library, which means losing a week or more of time.

Many of the books I do manage to find on the shelves have been written in, extensively, some almost to the point of illegibility. My colleagues who work on 17th and 18th century material tell me they regularly find their rare books on the shelves in the open stacks instead of properly stored in the rare books room.

I am astonished by how bad this library is! When I was in high school I worked at my Local State University library during the summers, and it was part of my job to check the returned books to see if they'd been written in. If they had, I erased any markings in pencil and fined the person for staff time. If they'd been extensively written in, or marked in pen, the person was charged the replacement cost of the book. Needless to say, few people were dumb enough to mark up books they took out of Local State U. No such system seems to be in place here.

Is it too much to ask that a library take care of its books?

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#88020 - 06/19/09 08:22 PM Re: When good libraries go bad .... [Re: AlchemyGirl]
CaitlinM2



Registered: 03/03/09
Posts: 457
Loc: San Francisco Bay Area

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Here is an article about Ray Bradbury doing fundraising to save California libraries in danger of closing because of budget problems. He's a hoot, I must say, and good for him!
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