My city libraries recently went from county run to private libraries. I continue to order books from the county (as I can do that online) and pick them up at a book mobile they have placed in an unincorporated part of the city.
I'm not happy (to say the least) with the privatization and though I didn't actually say I wouldn't go into any of the three of them I had no plans to even check them out. But then I realized that I needed an audio book. I went to see Holly and the drive is about 2.5 to 3 hours long and whenever I go I listen to an audio book to pass the time. I would love to just download one an ipod or mp3 and hook it into my car but my car doesn't have that capability.
So I headed to the local library to check out their selection of audio books. I found one that I could live with listening to (I'm not usually a fan of the way they're read) and went to check it out after I'd gotten a library card. What happened when I went to check out my book? Well, I was directed to a self-serve station that consisted of a flat touch screen where I scanned the bar code on my library card and then told it how many books I had. I then put my book on the glass (that kind of looks like what they have to scan your groceries at the market) and the system read what my book was. How did it do that? No scanner, nothing. No lights from below - nothing. My oldest had 3 books and she stacked hers up one on top of the other and the system read exactly which books she had - again...no scanner. The little sheet with my due date popped out of the mini printer and we walked out.
Besides the freakiness of the scanner - which is still hurting my brain to think about - I have to tell ya, I missed the face to face I used to get with the librarians! I love talking to them while checking out and of course, talking about books - which I can do for days! It seems that today's society is so into self-serve that we're missing out on the wonderful and incredible social aspect of the library system. Are we not allowed to talk to each other face to face any longer? *sigh* I fear that's the way it will be from now on and I have to say, I'm not a fan.
So which would you rather have? Face to face or the self-serve technology?