Friday, May 16, 2008

Library Census

Our library system recently changed their policies... no more than five holds per card member at one time and instead of ten cents a day in fines it's now twenty-five cents per day per item. That's a 150% increase for those of you who slept through math class. The biggest thing, though is the holds as it affects my wife and homeschoolers all across this fruited county. Yeah, I suppose we could start putting holds on the kids' cards but then there's an increased risk of missing due dates and getting hit with those massive fines. They say they made the change because of budgetary reasons and recent changes in property taxes. Of course their budget deficit has nothing to do with recently building a massive downtown library and upgrading each and every local branch.

I work downtown I visit the library at least twice a week so today I decided to do an audit, walking through every area and finding out how many employees I could see. It was fairly typical of what I've come to notice. Unless otherwise noted all were staring at a computer monitor with that "I'm surfing" look. The time was between 12:30 and 12:45.

2 employees at the Readers Services desk
1 at the non-profit corner
2 at the general reference desk
2 in the childrens area
1 in the PC room
1 in the business and technology area ACTUALLY ANSWERING A QUESTION!
2 in the teen area (one surfing, one helping)
2 in the Movie/Audio area*
2 in Geneology
1 in Arts
2 at the checkout area, one helping, one surfing
3 in the glass area behind the main checkout area, checking in books
1 looking secretarial just inside the "Employees Only" area.
2 guards, one at each door, both looking near death
3 janitors (two of which were standing and talking to each other)
3 reshelvers (one in the kids area, one in geneology, and one in the business area)

To be fair, on my way out I noticed three employees who had previously been sedentary were now assisting others. I'm sure I missed a bunch as I didn't go into the TV studio or non-public areas. Adding them up, one gets a whopping 30 employees (insert The Count's thunder), BWHA HA HA HA!

I'm just wondering how cutting a few reshelving jobs while keeping an army of immobile librarians is going to cut costs. It's not as if they were already operating at lightening speed... last summer I thought I may have tucked a prescription into a book that I just turned in. No problem, I'll just go to the stacks the next day and check. Except that the book hadn't been reshelved yet. In the end it took a full seven days for the book to be checked in and placed on the shelf about a thirty-second walk from when I turned it in. That's government efficiency!

* The people who work in the DVD/CD area always seem to be bustling. Today there was one checking out and another shelving movies. When I passed later both were shelving.


Big Doofus said...

Library? What's that?

But seriously, I wanted to comment on this observation:

The people who work in the DVD/CD area always seem to be bustling. Today there was one checking out and another shelving movies. When I passed later both were shelving.

That's because people go to the library today to check out CDs and DVDs...and then they copy them. What would happen if the library stopped carrying these items?

Somehow, this all reminds me of a scene from the Simpsons where they showed the Springfield Library. They had added a banner over their sign that said something like, "We Now Have Books About TV!!!"

Aye Carumba!

The Rebellious Pastor's Wife said...

Is that what that is about??????

I wondered why all of a sudden I was getting a hold limit

I wonder if part of it isn't that all these libraries have set up a shelf for you to get your own holds.

Dang....I've accrued some truly shameful fines. I can't imagine owing 2.5 times that much. I have a PLAC card and I homeschool (that means I pay $30 a year for the privilege, and I know it is a privilege of using other libraries in the state), and I live outside the county. There are times that I have put 20 books on hold..and used them all.

I guess this is going to make for a lot more work for me. I'm going to have to reconsider that PLAC card next year. (it probably still is worth it)

This also goes along with that letter that I just received as to why PLAC card holders don't get free parking at the main library. Apparently our $30 card doesn't compare to the $72.00 that the library gets per county citizen each year.