Saturday, July 11, 2020

Curbside baby steps

After a few months of my library's extraordinarily overwrought, brutal (for the staff), popular, and poorly organized curbside pickup I can just begin to speak of it here without falling into torrents of incoherent rage. I mean, I think I can. I thought I might like to test it out some here- take a few baby steps.

So today we will explore the question:

Why can't library patrons answer the question I ask?

Here is the question, and there have been hundreds of variations of it that I have tested in hopes that with the proper presentation I will get it answered. But they all amount to basically the same thing:

Did you call earlier and they told you to call when you got to the library?

That's it. 



Either of those answers and we're done. 

One of them is always true. Both of them never are.

And yet people will answer anything but my question.

They will answer what they think I'm asking:

"Yes, I was called and told I have an item on hold."

They will answer the question they wanted to be asked:

"I am out front ready for my pick up."

They will answer what they're afraid they're being asked:

"I wasn't told I had to call earlier." 

They will answer with a confused assertion of pride:

"I've done this before."

And they will answer as if they are being accused of something:

"I was told I could come to the library and pick up my books!"

But they don't, as a rule answer my question. They don't answer with a simple humility. They don't answer from listening, or out of respect for my question.



I don't have a lot of time here. The phone is ringing off the hook. A simple check out is a 17 step process. I can't take much more of this. Just answer the question. Yes or no people. Yes or no!

Baby steps.


  1. My library is taking the next step on Monday: People will be able to reserve an hour for computer use. And I will be able to go in and get a real, physical library card, no longer relying on a virtual card. They're doing something interesting with their open hours, however. They be open 9-11, 12-1, and 2-4. The hours in between are for cleaning and disinfecting. I believe there will be no seating, except at the computers.

    1. Sounds like a weird approach, but they all sort of are. Here Hennepin has opened in a small way, with more branches opening every week, most of the suburban systems are open in one aspect or another.


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