Tuesday, September 13, 2011

A Little Too Much Self-Service at UK's Gravesend Library?

Self-service libraries can leave you long overdue. Time-saving technology makes readers yearn for the good old days of cardboard tickets. (The Telegraph, 9/1/2011)

Excerpt: I know I shouldn’t be ungrateful. And believe me, I’m not. While libraries across the land are being closed, Gravesend, my town, has given its one a multi-million-pound revamp. The building has just reopened, and very clean and bright and lovely it is too.

I have only one small problem. The other day, I visited it for the first time, to return two overdue books I’d borrowed from the temporary library set up nearby. I joined the queue at the librarian’s desk. Once I’d reached the front, I handed over my books. “Sorry,” said the librarian, “I can’t take those. You have to borrow and return books using the self-service machine over there.” She pointed to a second, even longer queue. I joined it.

This queue moved sluggishly, because nobody knew how to use the self-service machine, except for the assistant stationed beside it. At last it was my turn. I slowly followed various instructions on its screen, scanned my books under some sort of red light, then tried to pay my fine. The machine told me I owed 30p. I inserted a £2 coin. The machine presented me with £2.30 change. Pleased, I began to work out how many fines I’d need to run up to pay off my mortgage, but sadly the assistant stepped in

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