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While I am not inclined to think of libraries as in any way wasting money, and while I think as a general rule we should be plowing money into libraries like they're aircraft carriers making industrialists fantastically wealthy, I am aware of what I consider to be lapses of judgement within our library budgets. In my own library I find us occasionally buying things that, while not necessarily egregious in an absolute sense, can be a bit offensive in the context of our relentless, continually shrinking book purchasing budgets. Very recently we bought half a dozen or so shopping carts. These are nice shopping carts, like for a small to medium size shop at your grocery store. My knee jerk reaction to the arrival of these is "Ahhhh! You fools! You wastrels! You profligate spendthrifts! Have you no sense?", but because I am a master of wisdom I am inclined these days to let my knee jerk reaction marinate, smoke, percolate, and generally be tempered by time. These carts could turn out to be a lot of fun for six year olds, the library cat might like them, we can use them to dispense free lattes to everyone in the fireplace area as a surprise treat. All I'm saying is that I am willing to give them some time before I start rumbling bitterly about how awful they are. Nevertheless, they do put me in mind of some of our previous poor choices that have been shown by time to have been anywhere from ill considered to disastrous. I thought I would share some of these with you. Thus:
The 5 Biggest Money Wasters in my Library's History
1. A very scary Halloween (the spider incident, 1998).
A messy, unhappy Halloween event involving 100 tarantulas, one heart attack, three lawsuits, and a lot of expensive crushed spider (they were supposed to be rentals).
2. The drone solution (2011)
An expensive solution to the problem of the great distance in our library between upstairs reference and the downstairs front desk was ruined by the drones being unable to reliably carry anything bigger than a paperback of Cannery Row, and also by the uncomfortable truth that some librarians are as bad at operating drones as they are at walking.
3. Automation Services Bowling Alley (2009)
What started as a bonus perk became a way of life. Call down to Automation Services at any time, for any reason, and just listen to that background noise. Yep.
4. The Bridges of Madison County Experience Room (1993)
We store weeds and donations in it now, but the seven multimedia projectors and the farmhouse facade cost a lot of money in their day.
5. Staff Blogger (2013)
Oh, I'm not paid to blog? Well then, er, good call.