Sunday, February 21, 2021

Upside down


Once, many years ago at my library, I was tasked with constructing some letter markers for our requested items shelving. It was more complicated than it sounds. I had to use my library's official font, color scheme, and minimalism. I wanted it to be immediately clear, especially to people using our system for the first time, where their last name would be. I used thick plastic inserts that stuck out from the front edge of the shelving and were very stable at the back. Looking down a row of books one could immediately see where each new letter started. I was pleased with it and it has worked well for years.

Then the pandemic came.

We expanded our request shelving so that it could be more spread out for social distancing. I was not involved in this project. It is pretty haphazard, with different ways of marking where things are and a motley assortment of different shelving and carts. My carefully made letter tags were cannibalized and used where they could be, abandoned when they couldn't.

I accepted all this. One does not survive more than 25 years working in an institution by getting riled be every little thing. One survives working in an institution by only getting riled by 70% of the little things. 

It's called pacing oneself.

Today I was shelving some requested items, and I was in the "M's". But I noticed whoever had constructed the temporary system had taken my "W" sign and stuck it in there upside down. I don't know what happened to my original "M" sign.

I shrugged. Then I shelved all my books there, upside down.


  1. Oh, I do empathize with this one! I haven't had quite the same exprience, but close enough. And I do not deal with such issues with the grace that you have shown.

    Of course I never worked at the same place as long as you have.

    And I don't think I have the nerve to shelve books upside down. [Did you really? I hope so!]

    BTW, my local library has a different approach to curbside pick-up of reserves. First, I get an email saying that a request is in. Then I have to schedule a pick-up time, using a program that seems to be designed for, say, a ticket for a performance. So I choose my 15-minute segment. I show up at the library at the correct time, give or take a bit. The staff will be sitting at a table inside the main door with a couple or carts of books with tags; multiple books for the same patron are bound with big rubber bands. At this point they are already checked out.
    I present my library card, they hand over my books. They are behind a plexiglass barrier of course, and the clever thing they have done is put a mic/speaker on the plexiglass, so the parties can hear each other. But patrons never set foot in the library. The 15-minute intervals don't seem too important; they mainly serve to determine which cart(s) need to be near the door for a given 2-hour period.

    That's right. They are open 9-11, 12-2, and 3-5, which made more sense when they needed the intervals for cleaning beteen batches of patrons inside.

  2. Shelving the books to match the marker only makes sense.


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