July 24th, 2014 Brian Herzog
I know I've mentioned before that my library has a strong "Get To Yes" policy for customer service - we want to do whatever we can to meet the patrons' needs.
To identify areas where we're coming up short, occasionally in the past we've kept "No Logs" at the service desks - log sheets for staff to track patron questions where we had no alternative but to answer "no." For this fiscal year, we're really trying to improve customer service even more, so we've made the Reference Desk's "No Log" a permanent thing.
Below is a snapshot of our "No" questions from July 1st until now - mostly museum passes this library doesn't offer, extended study room use, or printer/copier questions. But there's other good stuff in there that I think we can improve on, and that's what this is all about:
Nothing earth-shattering - which is good, really - but small steps are sometimes the best approach for improvements. I'm really curious to see how these things trend over time, too.
Also, slightly related to this is OCLC's Top reasons for no - the reason libraries report for interlibrary loan requests being denied. I can't remember where I saw this link posted, but I like this sort of thing.
July 20th, 2014 Brian Herzog
Here's something that was entirely new to me - I didn't have a very good answer at the time, and, really, I still don't.
A patron called with this complaint:
I checked out two DVDs from other libraries, and am having trouble with them. I only have a laptop at home for watching movies - no television with a regular DVD player - and these two DVDs won't play in it. Other library DVDs I've gotten in the past have worked okay, but I noticed these two are purple. Why won't they play?
Uh... I had no idea. I thought purple DVDs could mean either just purple-colored plastic as some marketing gimmick, or, a colored data side could mean a DVD-R. I asked her to verify that these were real library DVDs, with the library's stickers and everything else on them (as opposed to a copy someone just burned and kept the original for themselves [which happens]), and sure enough, they did.
So they were real DVDs that some library purchased, yet they wouldn't play in her laptop.
I did some quick web searching, and found that other people do indeed have trouble playing purple DVDs. Mostly it's people with PlayStations (for which some guy has a tape-based solution).
Since I struck out there, I thought I'd look up these DVDs in the catalog to see if I could learn anything - and surprisingly, I did. One record had this note:
"This disc is compatible with all DVD players authorized in the U.S. and Canada"--Container.
So much for that. However, the record for the other DVD included this note:
"This disc is expected to play back in DVD video "play only" devices, and may not play back in other DVD devices, including recorders and PC drives"--Container.
Ehh... so it's another misguided DRM "feature." Now my best guess is that these DVDs are encoded to only work on play-only DVD players, whereas this patron's laptop's DVD drive was a read/write drive. I love that media studios treat everyone like potential criminals.
Anyway, I'd never noticed these purple DVDs, but I put one on request for myself to test it in various laptops I have. But some cataloger somewhere must have known these are limited-use DVDs, since not all of our patrons will be able to use them. My vote is to never buy these again.
Has anyone else encountered these? Am I right in thinking this is a "security" "feature?" Does anyone know of a way for my patron - who only has her laptop and no other DVD player - to watch these movies at home? Thanks.
July 16th, 2014 Brian Herzog
A few years ago, I posted about a neat inscription in one of our Jack Kerouac books. Well, this past weekend, we found another interesting inscription.
One of my coworkers was doing the weeding list, pulling and deleting books that hadn't circulated in the last three years. One of the books on the list was The Bouviers : from Waterloo to the Kennedys and beyond, by John H. Davis.
Since we're in Massachusetts, I'm always a little reluctant to get rid of Kennedy-related items, but this one just didn't seem like it would be in demand anymore.
That is, until my coworker opened the cover and found this inscription:
Such a personal note from "Jacki Kennedy" - this copy must be priceless! It seems especially rare, too, since she took this single opportunity to sign her name differently than her normal signature.
Of course, we certainly don't encourage anyone to vandalize library materials - even First Ladies.
July 12th, 2014 Brian Herzog
Questions like this are the reason I keep coming to work. The phone rings...
Me: Reference Desk, can I help you?
Patron: Can you ask Wicked Peter what his real name is?
Patron: H.R. Pufnstuf
Patron: What is H.R. Pufnstuf's real name? What does the H.R. stand for?
Holy smokes. I search Google for just "h.r. pufnstuf" and the first first result was a Wikipedia entry (ah-ha, Wicked Peter = Wikipedia, so that's one mystery solved).
That article, along with a few other websites I checked, said the H.R. stands for "Royal Highness" (backwards - or "His Royalness"), according to the shows creator, or "hand rolled" (a pot reference), according to its fans.
I never watched this show, so I don't know about the pot reference. But since this was about the same time as Puff the Magic Dragon, I guess people making that sort of connection isn't surprising.
Anyway, I told the patron that it stood for His Royalness, but other people thought it stood for other things. That must have been enough, and the patron said thanks and hung up.
July 10th, 2014 Brian Herzog
This was something I had to figure out for myself - and I was recently asked about it by another library, so I thought I'd share it here.
On the Google search results page, it tries to match your search with a local business, and show you its details on the right - a map, maybe photos, business hours, contact information, etc. I presume they pull this from a variety of sources.
One year, I noticed my library's details showing up there - phone, website, hours, etc. Great, that's Google making things easier for people to find us.
Except, later on our hours changed (we started being open on Sundays), but the hours on Google didn't change. Then one of our Trustees noticed it, asked my Director why our hours were wrong on Google, and that became my project for the day.
This was also what another nearby library recently asked me - their hours were listed on Google, but weren't correct, so how do you change them?
The answer is that you have to "claim" ownership of that business listing by going through the authentication process to prove you're actually entitled to make changes. This then ties the business listing to a Google account, which you can then log into to make changes. It's not hard, and as far as I can tell, is the only way to update it when things change - like if you're open on Sundays in the winter but not the summer, you've got to go in twice a year and manually make the change (lest your Trustees think you're not keeping up with your Internetly duties).
Anyway, here are some pictures. The one on the left is for the JV Fletcher Library (in Westford, MA), which has not yet "claimed" their listing. Ours, on the right, has been claimed - you can tell because theirs has the subtle "Are you the business owner?" link under it:
Once you click that link, you'll be prompted to log in and authenticate. It's been a couple years since I did this, and I don't remember exactly what the authentication process was - although, it could have also changed since then. I also don't entirely understand the hierarchy of various Google products, but I'm sure there is some relationship between business listing, Google accounts, Google+, and I don't know what all.
However, it's worth doing, to get your Google listing associated with an account you can edit. Because of course, if people see it on Google, they assume it's right - so if Google says you're open on Sundays, it's your fault if you're not.
July 5th, 2014 Brian Herzog
I like to have somewhat topical posts around holidays, and I just had this exchange with a patron on Thursday that seemed vaguely Patriotic (at least, Government-related).
A patron called and asked if we could hold Hillary Clinton's new book Hard Choices for her. I looked it up in the catalog, and asked for her library card number so I could place the hold.
After I did, she asked me what time we were open until that night, so she could come pick it up.
Me: Oh no, I'm sorry but there's a waiting list.
Patron: Okay, so I can pick it up on Monday?
Me: No - all system copies are checked out, and there are 100 people ahead of you on the wait list for it.
Patron: A hundred? Sheesh, she'll be President by that time.
I thought that was funny, but also funny is that 100 holds isn't very many. Still, it's frustrating to see us wiped out of a resource.