Monday, July 25, 2011

Libraries: Face to Face or Technology?

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 - 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?


Tam said...

As a general hermit and curmudgeon, I prefer electronics. I find it's faster and I don't want to chat with a stranger or have them look at me funny when they see my books. LOL

I also prefer it when I DO have a problem, that the staff are available to help me rather than spending 10 min. behind someone with 53 kids' books getting them all scanned. I figure they can do the real work using their brains rather than just scan, scan, scan, next.

Chris said...

I've been using self-serve checkout for years and I like it - at least it goes more smoothly than at the grocery store!

Tracy said...

Alright - the 53 kids would be annoying, I must admit, Tam.

Chris - I really like self-service at the grocery story but not at the library for some reason. I guess I don't feel the need to talk to the grocery store clerk like I feel the need to talk to the librarian. lol Yep, it's all about books.

CC said...

I'm lucky to live close to a branch of our City Library so I'm in there at least once a week picking up books I've gone online and put on reserve. Thank goodness for the do-it-yourself scanners; I'm in and out of there in no time. Use to take 15 mins to wait in line, then wait for the counter person (not the Librarian here, only one Librarian between several Libraries) to find my reserve book and then check me out. I'll take self-serve and quick over slow face-to-face any day. Gives me several more minutes to read.

Leslie said...

Both our city and county libraries have been using the self check-out for years so I'm use to it. The only time I talk with the librarians is when I have a problem.

I think if I had depended on librarians for recommendations I would miss the face to face. But since I never did, I don't miss it.

Tracy said...

Ok - apparently I'm the odd man out here. lol My city hasn't been all that updated until now as far as the libraries so I was just used to the librarians. I liked out librarians! :)

I'm sure I'll get used to the self-serve at the library if I end up going there more. They don't have online holding so if I want to put something on hold I have to do it from the library itself which isn't really convenient. I find myself still ordering from the county library (doing it online) and picking it up at the book mobile.

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