Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Training Day

The "liberry" was closed today so that we its staff could journey to a neighboring county where we sought to be trained to use our rapidly impending brand new computer system.

There are a lot of things I'm not looking forward to regarding the transfer of power from VTLS (a.k.a: the Devil) to Millennium (a.k.a.: the helpful and blessed savior), but the Millennium system itself is thankfully not one of them. It's certainly more complex than our version of VTLS, but in this case that's a good thing. It will let us do some pretty amazing and useful things that will make our job a lot easier in many respects. Course, most of what I saw today was the shine and glitter of a brand new system with none of the down sides, but so far the upsides are pretty up.

What's going to suck is the few weeks we're going to have to have both VTLS and Millennium running at the same time as we try to check all our books back in through VTLS, but check them out using only Millennium. We'll also have to issue each and every patron who walks through the door a new library card, which will mean huge lines at the desk while we do this. We'll also have to thoroughly reeducate our patrons that, yes, we really are serious when we say "YOU MUST HAVE YOUR NEW LIBRARY CARD WITH YOU IN ORDER TO CHECK OUT BOOKS. NO, WE WEREN'T KIDDING ABOUT ALL THAT."

And when are we scheduled to do this?  Oh, only the second week into our Summer Reading program, which is our busiest time of the entire year as far as new patrons and mass circulation goes.
Nevermind the fact that the New Library Computer System committee has decreed that all patrons must have photo ID and a drivers license number in order to get a library card, which are two things most nine year olds aren't going to have. We've been assured that a solution to this problem is in the works, but there are very few other permanent numbers that we can legally use to help differentiate our patrons.

In the training session today we set up patron records for fictional people (mine was "Freely, Ichabod Phineas"), checked out books to them, put them on hold for books, pretended to be them putting themselves on hold for books online, put nasty little notes in their patron records ("Pees Freely"), levied fines against them for overdues and bad checks and blocked them from checking anything out just for spite. We also discussed our branch's conspiracy to pre-bury certain problem patrons who have been pissing us off for years before they get the chance to get new library cards and piss us off some more by stealing another load of our books. I've suggested and it has now officially been adopted that we call this little maneuver a "Fagin block", named in dishonor of our least favorite family of patrons ever. The scary thing is that we had 8 different libraries represented in the room and at least 6 of them had personal experience with the Fagin clan and their thieving, deceptive ways. The other two were pretty sure they'd escaped by the simple fact that the Fagins seem to be unaware of their existence.

After the training was finished, we all sat around and bitched about problem patrons for a good half hour. We decided that what we really need is some more creative fines to levy, such as an Annoying Patron Fine, a Stinky Patron Fine and the ever popular He Who Must Not Be Named Fine. We also probably need a Get the Hell Off the Computer Fine.

I was amazed at how much trouble some of the other libraries have with patrons refusing to get off the computers when asked. I thought we had it bad with the Dufus and Parka, but there are far worse patrons out there. Surly patrons, who get angry when their half-hour runs out, who then stand around shaking like an addict in withdrawal when they can't get a turn and who irritate and bully other patrons into relinquishing their computers. Frankly, it sounds to me like these people need the soothing medicine that can only be gained by firm and repeated applications of a stout "library stick".

No comments:

An employee of a small town "liberry" chronicles his quest to remain sane while dealing with patrons who could star in a short-lived David Lynch television series.