Anyway, I think I have what the professionals might call "New Blogger Syndrome". I found myself dreaming about what I might blog today. (As an aside, I find it slightly annoying that I just used the word "blog" as a verb.) Actually, I don't remember my dreams, which is a first in a long time as I actually slept last night. I haven't been sleeping so well, so I was quite pleased to wake up at 7 and not 5 this morning, well-rested. Nevertheless, I woke up thinking about the blog. Sad, I know. Don't worry, this will pass, and I'll manage to post at about the same frequency my husband used to post, I'm sure.
Today, however, I'd like to rant about the public library system here in the United Kingdom. I should qualify this rant by some praise over the fact that I have been able to find quite a few books I wanted to read and can even reserve things online! This is quite an achievement for the UK. But that leads me to the following:
1) Online Reservations - I quite like the fact that I can do this. Unfortunately, it often takes a long time to get books that supposedly are on the shelves at one of the library branches around the Greater Manchester area. The longest amount of time I've waited for a book whose status said "check shelves" was 3 weeks. Now, I can manage to get myself all over town in no more than an hour, so why exactly does it take 3 weeks to transfer a book that is apparently available? This brings me to...
2) Check Shelves - I have checked the shelves for a book at the local library branch exactly twice. Both times the online catalog showed that I should "check shelves" at that specific branch. Exactly twice I found no such book. After asking the library volunteer about it and them checking the same shelves I had just checked (because obviously I cannot spell names or put them in alphabetical order, nor do I have the forsight to check the other fiction section), I was told on both occasions that they couldn't find the book. Interesting. This brings me back to online reservations. You see, this makes a loop...perhaps an infinite one.
3) Picking Up Reserved Books - Because it is apparent that I should not ever check the shelves for books at the library, I reserve them online, wait a ridiculous amount of time for them to come in, and go stand in line to pick them up. Standing in line is not a problem; I actually don't mind that part. What I do mind is the sheer inefficient way they apparently sort books that are on hold in the back. Instead of sorting them by the name of the person who reserved the books, they sort them by author name (and presumably their category, like Fiction, Non-Fiction, Historical, etc.). This wouldn't be such a problem for people who reserve one book, but I often reserve five or six. This means I stand there for 10 minutes waiting for them to find my books in the back while the queue behind me gets restless and wonders why I don't just "check shelves" like the rest of them.
4) Returns - Every library that I have ever been a patron of has had a return slot somewhere in the building, the kind you can walk up to, dump your books into, and leave. Not this one. I would bet none of the branches have a return slot. Instead, one must wait in line behind the person who's reserved six books while the library volunteer sorts through the reserves at the back by author name. This is why I make sure I return books and pick up new ones on the same go, because unlike libraries in the UK, I try to be efficient.
This leads me to some suggestions based on my experiences with the excellent library system in Fort Collins, CO. First, update the online catalog to reflect that actual current status of the books. (Note: This actually happened a couple of times in FC as well, so I can't really fault them on this, except that it's happened here every time I've looked for a book). Two, at least categorize the reserved books in the back by the name of the reservee. It will make things go a lot faster. Better yet, allow us to check a "reserves" shelf ourselves and tie your computer system to make sure that only that reservee can check out that particular book! And finally, have a book drop somewhere, anywhere. If you want to make sure the books aren't stolen, have the bookdrop on the side of the main counter, where the books are collected behind the counter.
And, this was long enough, I will end my rant by saying, that I do appreciate the library efforts here in the good ol' United Kingdom. And, I guess I shouldn't complain too much considering the number of books I have checked out for free lately. I'm just sayin'...