Yesterday's column delved into the rich and deep history of our library software systems. Despite not seeming like an interesting subject, it included billionaires, record breaking tax fraud, star studded celebrity weddings on the Amalfi Coast, predatory monopolies, and Harvard University.
But where did I learn all these wild stories?
After a co-worker of mine finished helping (or not helping) a library patron at the front desk, they asked me if I knew of a way to search the catalog to only show items by an author that are currently available on our shelves. I said I didn't think there was one.
Then my co-worker wanted to know why there wasn't and how it was surely a simple fix to make that possible. They were pretty mad about it.
So I launched into a long speech about how and why our library software system is so continually unresponsive to our needs, reflecting on the nature of monopoly and market forces on the quality of products. To back up my claims I did extensive research on the history of and the companies that own and license our library software.
If only I had applied that effort to figuring out how to limit searches in our catalog to items currently available on our shelves.
Because it turns out that, yes, it is entirely possible to do this.
It was not my finest moment.
The very thought of it all pains me.
But I did learn a lot.
Unfortunately it might be more the stuff about the Amalfi Coast and tax fraud.