My local library has an online catalogue where I can place reservation holds on titles, or order them from other libraries within the city for delivery to my local. It’s a useful service at times. Other times not so much.
Take a few months ago when I needed a non-fiction book for a project that I was doing. It was 11pm on a Saturday, so I decided to drop a reservation on the book and to go and collect it on the Tuesday. (The library does recommend giving them a day if the book is on the shelves. If it needs to come from another library they send you a letter when it arrives.)
Tuesday arrived and I took a quick look on the website to check that it was on hold and ready to collect. This involves logging into an archaic, non user friendly website and finding the correct menu. But it’s worth it when I eventually see that the book is ready. This one was and so I set off on the nice bus journey to collect it.
It wasn’t there!
I had the librarian check my card, and saw the hold was still placed. My book should have been on a shelf behind the desk with my name tagged to it. But nope. Somebody had checked it out that morning! It had been marked as ready in error.
Another time, more recently, I ordered a fiction title that had multiple copies on the shelf. I arrived to collect it to find that all six copies were missing.
My most recent issue is ongoing. I ordered five titles that were all apparently on the shelves. Only one has so far been ready to collect.
The system doesn’t work.
What is worse than all of this is that I get charged 50p for each title that I order. Luckily they haven’t charged me for one that wasn’t actually there… so far.
I think the library needs a major overhaul.
Firstly, the system of sending a snail mail letter when books are overdue or when an order has arrived. This is 2015. I would assume by now that the library was capable of sending an email for these things. The website needs completely redoing and the catalogue updating to show the correct titles.
My biggest bug-bear is the librarians. Many of them have never heard of half of the currently best-selling authors. They don’t appear to care. They’re obviously there to collect a wage and that is it.
I have been served by rude, ignorant and sometimes downright arrogant librarians on many occasions.
I completely, 100% support the local library. I really think that they are amazing places and should be used and supported by everybody. But I also think that they are in need of either privatising or giving a huge funding boost to bring them up to date. They need restaffing with some of the hundreds of local book lovers who would nurture them and be able to recommend good books to the visitors.
Come on council… fix the libraries.