Thursday, December 14, 2006

Oops, spoke too soon

A lady patron arrived at the circ desk and alerted me we had an interlibrary loan for her. I fetched it from our holds cabinet while the lady patron dug in her purse for her card. This often happens with ILL-seeking patrons, particularly in the past couple of years that we've been enforcing the YES, YOU NEED YOUR DAMN CARD policy.

"Oh, no," I said, "we don't need your card for interlibrary loans."

"You don't?"

"No, ma'am."

"Well, I didn't think so, but I came in without my card the other day and the young lady here said I had to have it. I tried to explain that I never have for interlibrary loans before, but she wouldn't back down. By the time I'd walked back home to get it, I decided to just wait."

"Do you remember which day this was?" I asked, knowing the answer already.

"Mmm... a couple days ago. Probably Saturday."

"Ah. I see." Yep, I was right. Not surprisingly, it had been Newbie Greenhorn Ms. S being overzealous about her job. "Well, I apologize for that."

"Oh, it's no problem. I needed the walk."

The lady patron signed her ILL slip and left, at which point I turned to Mrs. C and we both exchanged looks of befuddlement at Ms. S's stupidity.

"What did she even...? Was she trying to...? Is it even possible? I mean, how could...?" I said.

"I don't know," Mrs. C said.

Our confusion may seem odd, but that's probably just because you don't know how ILLs work around here. We don't require a card for ILLs because we don't check them out on the patron's library card at all. The interlibrary loaned books, you see, are already checked out on OUR library's library card before they're even mailed to us. Once we receive it, we check the appropriate accordion file folder to see who wanted it locally, process that information into our ILL binder so that we have a record of the book's title, the patron requesting it and its due date, then we give it to that patron and have them sign the accompanying ILL slip to show that they received it. Again, we DO NOT check the book out to them on their library card. That screws up the whole process for us and for the other libraries, as once a book is checked out to a patron and not a library it suddenly becomes subject to a much less generous loan time (say 2 weeks instead of a month) and causes other problems down the line. So the fact that Ms. S insisted on seeing a card might mean she's been checking the ILLs out on patron cards, screwing up not only our library but others as well.

The madness--it's spreading!

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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.