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.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

The Fever... it burns!

More fun with Millennium today. Still not completely friends with it.

Found out that since we're all one big happy system now it's perfectly possible for me to check out an interlibrary loan from another library that a patron has brought back to us onto to my card. I didn't even realize it wasn't our book, but yesterday spied a copy of a book I wanted to read that had just come back to us and I checked it out. It wasn't until later that I noticed it had the stamp of one of our fine state college libraries stamped on the top edge of its pages. This is odd, because I had checked it into VTLS before checking it out to myself, so VTLS should have let me know it wasn't ours to loan by a slightly altered version of its usual BEEP. It didn't.

And today we had more problems with returned interlibrary loans not beeping properly to alert us. I think we figured out what's wrong. Millennium has subversively taken control over all computer sounds and is no longer allowing VTLS to make sounds proper to its programming. This means we'll have to pay attention to the screen when checking anything in so that we don't accidentally shelve other libraries materials.

We also are having to contend with problems raised by the fact that not all libraries in our new collective have the new library cards to give out yet. They all have the Millennium system up and running, but many can't issue new cards because they don't have them to issue. Not that this is stopping one of them in particular. Town-D's library decided that since they had Millennium up, they were just gonna start issuing new cards to their patrons whether or not they had any to give. What they're doing is entering patrons into the system, inserting the existing 10-digit patron barcode with 4 digits of random numbers inserted at the front of it and calling it a day. They then tell these lucky patrons not to get a library card at any other library and that they'll be mailing them a new one when they arrive. (Can we say, "waste of postage?")

We'd heard rumors this was happening, as one of our part time employees, Mrs. H, also works part time at Town-D's branch and had alerted us. However, we didn't think it was a problem, beyond just being a dumb idea, until one of their patrons turned out to be one of our patrons and came in to get a library card from us despite being told not to do that by Town-D.

I'd already had him fill out the application, choose what form his card would take and told him he would have to have it before checking books out in the future. I then typed most of his info into our computer when his record magically appeared on the screen.

"Do you already have a new card?" I asked, perplexed.

"Yeah," he said, explaining it was from Town-D then adding, "Only they didn't give me a card."

I grumbled and growled about the lunacy of making new patron cards without the $#@%ing cards when I hit upon an idea. Since we're all one big happy system now, I just went into his record and replaced Town-D's bogus 14 digit barcode from the non-existent card with a genuine 14 digit barcode from a real live card, which I then gave to the patron.

He was happy. I was happy. And Town-D will be mighty confused.

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