Friday, January 24, 2020

Library Queues and Line-Jumpers - Part II

A quick follow-up to yesterday's post about line-jumping at my local library:

I was in the library this morning (January 24) and couldn't resist simply asking the lady at the circulation desk for an explanation of my question from yesterday because it has become apparent that I'm not going to get a written response from anyone within the system. 

I told her what my theory was (preferential treatment for library employees), and she basically said  that she couldn't answer that question for me. She then thought a minute and came up with something that does make some sense, saying that our county system has recently merged its database with the county just north of us. That means that most everyone would have dropped back a few spaces as the two queues were merged. Now, if that's the case, I do have to wonder why the system still shows only one copy of the book being available in all of two counties. Perhaps, however, that's just a problem with the merging process.

Even if this is what caused the system suddenly to bump me eight places, two of which I've now recovered (indicating that there has to be more than one copy of American Dirt in circulation), I am still a little disconcerted to learn, more or less, that the Hold queue can be bypassed by any librarian that takes a liking to a book I've already been waiting weeks for. The person I spoke with today did not confirm my suspicion, but she would not go so far as to deny it either.

So there we have it...number 44 in line and wondering how many months it will be before I get my hands on a library copy of American Dirt. At this rate, the paperback may be out before that happens.

12 comments:

  1. I don't understand why the counties would merge. I hope the counties where I live don't.

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  2. She told me that the merger was hoped to offset some of the book-buying budget cuts that they are both facing in 2020. The county we've merged with is much smaller than mine, but also much wealthier on average, so this might work to our advantage if it gives us more choice. She went on to say that they were also considering a merger with a small incorporated city about 35 miles away. That would definitely benefit that city.

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  3. I don't think the merge theory holds water, but hopefully you won't get pushed further down the line any more. I love libraries...but they have a few kinks with the way their run every now and then.

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    1. It's the only explanation I'm going to get, that's for sure. My original two enquiries have dropped through the center of the Earth now...never to be seen again.

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  4. I was curious what answer you would get to your question. For a book that seems to have a lot of hype, it's surprising the system only has one copy. I was going to suggest you could ask that they acquire an additional copy or two (I asked and my library promptly bought book #1 of a series that was missing in the system when my kid wanted to read it- very nice of them to do so!) but sounds like the budgeting is tight- as it is for the majority of libraries nowadays I imagine.

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    1. Everything is being blamed on budgetary cutbacks...our system took hard hits from the last hurricane through town that required some huge re-investment in infrastructure. My own branch was shut down for months, in fact.

      I saw an article in the paper today that says a West Texas librarian has taken it upon herself to limit the exposure this novel is going to get because of the criticism it is receiving from hispanic authors who don't think it's "authentic" because a white person wrote it.

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  5. Good for you for asking... expect you're correct in suspecting employees jump the queue. I've been waiting on a book for several months. Back when I reserved it in Nov. it had a long due by date of something like the 5th. Jan. Fine, I wasn't in any hurry, though I did wonder how you got to keep a book that long because here it's 3 weeks and then you must renew. Well then suddenly the due date became the 21st. and now 2 of us are waiting on it. Date's come and gone and maybe it will turn up next week and maybe it won't. Another kind of 'reserve' mystery. Suspect, like you, I'm going to have to ask next time I'm in there.

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    1. Cath, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that library employees would pull something like this on the taxpayers who provide the funds to buy the books on the shelves. Human nature, etc. But that doesn't make it right. I really had to take a deep breath before asking the lady at the desk because I didn't want to come across as some nutcase ranting about nothing. I'm hoping that, if nothing else comes from my questions, they now realize that what they are doing is not invisible to library patrons.

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  6. When I volunteered at our little town library and a new book came in that I wanted to read, I was allowed to read it before it went into circulation. Not a big deal in a small town, but in a huge system like yours it seems not quite right.

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    1. I wouldn't even think it's a big deal, Nan, if they would do that before entering the book into the request system. It's the idea that I can go backwards in the line sometimes that bothers me. That's like rubbing in in our faces. I live in what has to be one of the largest counties in the country...Harris County, Texas has 1,777 square miles in it. The state of Rhode Island has 1,212 square miles in the whole state.

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    2. I wonder if this is relevant to you - I decided I wanted to reread Olive Kittredge before reading Strout's new one featuring that character. I was doing it through the state's downloadable books, and this is the message that came up:
      Some copies of this title belong to specific member libraries, and their users are given priority for holds on those copies. For this reason, users may jump forward or move backward on the wait list, so we can't accurately estimate wait time.

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    3. There might be something to this, Nan. I know that the dozen or so libraries in my county buy books for their individual libraries. Those books then move all over the system but are clearly marked as the property of specific libraries. And now that we are tied in with another county and a small city, maybe this priority system does have something to do with what's happening here. None of the local librarians seem to know any of the details as to how the sorting system works, so this makes as much sense as anything I've heard. It's all pretty complicated, but with computers anything is possible.

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