or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk


Who Empties Your Bookbox?

   January 25th, 2011 Brian Herzog

Library Return BoxesThere's a situation at my library that doesn't seem to have a good solution, and a recent conversation with a friend prompted me to just ask other librarians how you handle it: who empties your book drop box on long weekends?

I work in a busy library, and on regular days, we empty the book return box (the one in our parking lot) about twice three times a day. We aren't open on Sundays* but the book box we have is generally big enough to accommodate any materials that get dropped off. Monday morning there's a lot of stuff to check in, but the box isn't overflowing.

However, on long weekends when we're closed on Monday, someone needs to come in to empty the book box - otherwise, it would overflow and patrons would just have to leave items sitting in the parking lot.

And by someone, I mean me. I inherited this duty when a former Assistant Director left the library, because:

  • Historically, it's always been a guy that wheeled the box in. It's always full and heavy, and although we got a new book box that is much easier to roll, it still can be a lot of work. I know this sounds sexist, and I know some of my female coworkers do occasionally bring it in during their shifts, and I absolutely welcome them to do it
  • Of all the guys on our staff, I'm the only one that isn't one of the maintenance guys - which means I'm the only guy who can also check in all of the items in the box. If the items aren't checked in, then the Tuesday morning desk staff has a two-day mound of items to check in, plus the crush of patrons who haven't been able to get into the library for two days - plus, or course, all their normal work
  • As a department head, I have keys to the building to let myself in on the weekends
  • I live relatively close to the library, so it's not that big a deal for me to come in - except that I can never go anywhere on three-day weekends

I don't mean to sound like a martyr, and certainly don't want to be one - which is why I'm posting this. What do other libraries do on long weekends? Do you not make any special arrangements? Do you just let everything build up and deal with it on Tuesday?

This seems like a common problem for libraries, so I'm hoping the wisdom of the crowd can help free up my weekends. Thanks for any suggestions - please put them in the comments below.

 


*Not being open on Sundays is a whole separate issue for me, so don't even get me started.



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Book Due Date Calendar

   April 20th, 2010 Brian Herzog

Overdue Book CalendarI feel a little sheepish whenever I talk about a product on here, because I don't want to come off sounding like a commercial. But I thought this Book Due Date Calendar was a good idea.

It's available on Etsy from a seller called Aunt June, and it's a fun and creative way for patrons to keep track of when their library books are due.

Paper for our receipt printers is expensive, so we ask people if they need a receipt instead of printing one automatically - which means many people leave the library without any tangible reminder of when their books are due back. I've seen libraries use due date bookmarks, which are also a good idea, but this calendar was colorful and definitely eye-catching enough to be a great reminder (especially for kids) - kind of like a real-world Library Elf.

Here's what it looks like in action:

Overdue Book Calendar

It looks like you download a pdf, which is nice because you can print out extras if you're a heavy library user. I wonder if you could print it onto some kind of glossy paper that might work like a dry erase board. I also wonder if the seller would be willing to work out some deal with libraries to let them sell these as fundraisers.

Thanks for the tip Lauren.



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