Monday, June 12, 2006

library woes answered

Wow, who knew that people read my blog entries?
Kristin, a woman (I’m guessing) who works for the Brooklyn Public Library, has left a very kind, thoughtful, and considerate
comment in response to my library woes.
I’m also guessing that she didn’t get alerted to my entry by the NSA, in spite of my mentioning al Qaeda and Infidels and Allah and whatnot (just named them again for a few more hits, and just in case she DID hear through them), but rather because she searched, via blogspot or technorati or some such thing for the keywords Brooklyn Public Library, or branches, or books, or Central, or some such thing. I just mention them again so she can find this response, since she didn’t leave an email and I’m not aware of any Kristins at the Park Slope branch. The Central Branch (not really a “branch,” though, if it’s “central.” The Central Trunk, then), as she mentioned, is too vast to keep track of easily, so she might work there and I haven’t run into her. I’ve only been to the branch at Pacific and 4th Ave once, so I don’t know it well. Anyway, this seems to be the only way for me to answer and I would like it if she could actually read it.

Thank you for your response. I understand that comparing Minneapolis to Brooklyn doesn’t really work, but I wouldn’t compare the number of citizens. I’m sure Brooklyn’s library system is more vast than that of Mpls, but I’d still compare number of branches to number of patrons. Maybe Mpls isn’t quite so far behind, then. They probably do have a bigger budget, though.
And that was partially my point (other than griping). I won’t lodge a formal complaint because I’ve seen the reshelvers at work at the Central Trunk. There’s no way they’re getting paid enough to care, and I don’t think most of them are in it for a library career.
The people behind the desks are quite friendly, even if they do have the common librarian attitude of, “You can’t possibly know what you’re doing. I don’t think you’re even asking the question correctly.” And most of them have even been quite helpful.
Well, holds again: I had a hold at the Central Trunk. The email said it had arrived. My record, as the librarian swiped the card, said the hold was on the shelf. But the hold was not on the shelf. The librarian’s response? “Did you look on the shelf?” “Yes.” “Under your last name?” “Yes. And under my first name and under the title of the book and under the author’s first and last names.” “It wouldn’t be under any of those.” “It’s not where it should be, so who’s to say which non-place it’s in?” “?” “I was just going through possible mis-shelvings, trying to see if I could find it.” “And you couldn’t find it?” “No.” “Did you check under you last name?” (that was my teeth) “Yes, I checked, it wasn’t there.” “Oh, well.” Nobody offered to look or check.
I guess I’m irked in general that I have to stand in line just to return books and that there are no after-hour book drops. I liked being able to get books with the kids and drop books off without them. And quickly.
And to my original point of requests not getting filled, I still maintain that the stack-lackeys (at the Central Library, that is) - the people with the carts and the headphones - don't seem to be the most motivated or alphabetically inclined folks around. And I do suspect that some of them take the request slip, wander off, wait the requisite time, and return with a shrug. I'm sorry I'm so suspicious, but there you have it.

But back to Kristin. I still continue to use the library. I take my kids there and am teaching them to use it and to respect the books and what they can do at the library. I think it’s a wonderful institution. I understand money is always short – where, after all, is the profit to come from? Customers tend to be cheap and grumpy (sorry – though I do save my grumpiness for later) and, from what I can tell, not respectful of the books or the property. And then there’s the after-school teenagers, surfing for nudie pictures on the web and chasing each other about. I don’t envy you your job, except that you get to hang around books a lot.
Thank you for your response. Really.

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