Friday, October 28, 2016

You trust us...

A less experienced colleague of mine comes from the front desk of the library to consult with me in the back room. "There's no way to give a receipt to someone for returning books, is there?" He asks.

Actually there is! People don't ask for them often, which is why only old timers like myself are keepers of this ancient technique. It doesn't work well, but we can do it. However, because in every case I have encountered, it is a wildly obnoxious request, and one that if even five percent of our patrons made would grind our circulation to a crawl, I always seek to make it as miserable as possible for the patron making the request. I am not cold or mean. Patrons are prepared for that. I am friendly. I gather together as many staff as possible at the computer. We discuss and instruct how the check in receipt is generated. We experiment with futile attempts to find a better check in receipt option. We must make sure to clearly demonstrate that this is a special occasion, a freak occurrence to be used as a wonderful teaching tool for the obscure processes of circulation. No time or effort is spared. We strategize over new ideas, how to communicate the process throughout the system, and what really is the best procedure.

But of course we're delighted to do it for the patron. It's just, naturally, with something so bizarre and particular, going to take a long, long, long time.

So after an extended trial we get this patron the check in receipt that really doesn't show much anyway. I am free to return to my backed up work on the automated check in machine.

My colleague comes back a little later. The same patron doesn't have card or I.D. and wants to do some small thing on their record. Can we?

No no no! Of course not! Never!

You don't trust us, how can we trust you?


  1. Wonderful post today! I may postpone my retirement a while longer in hopes of having occasion to be asked to provide a "check-in" slip. Oh joy! It has happened to me, but I feel I was a bit too, shall we say, accommodating?

    1. It might be just me, but I'd grab that retirement thingie as soon as possible. I could always arrange to secretly punish bad patrons in your honor.

    2. Oh, I appreciate the offer, but would the I get the same satisfaction from a proxy? I will have to think about it. Thanks, anyway. I do feel honored.


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