Thursday, January 23, 2020

Library Queues - Who Are These Line-Jumpers?


I am throwing this out primarily as a question for any of my librarian friends who may see this post, but also to enquire of others if they have ever noticed something like this happening at their own libraries. (I have formally asked my own library to respond, but so far my request seems to have dropped into some sort of black hole.)

Two or three weeks ago I electronically placed American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins on hold, and I started out on the list at number 40 because I was a little late in becoming aware of the novel. For some strange reason, the library system shows that only one copy of the novel has been purchased for the county despite the fact that we have near a dozen branch libraries under the county umbrella. I realized that the wait would be painfully slow, and sure enough, I had only moved up to number 38 in the queue as of two days ago. I decided to check my status again last night and found that I had suddenly dropped back to number 46 in that same queue. 

Now, how could that be? Who are these eight line-jumpers and why were they allowed to push me backward like this? Are they library employees who suddenly clicked to the controversy surrounding this particular novel (absurd claims of cultural appropriation are being made against its author) or are they friends of librarians, etc.? Frankly, I can’t think of a legitimate reason for something like this to happen, but as indicated by my email enquiry to the library, I’m willing to listen.

So it’s a simple question, folks: What am I missing here because surely there’s a good explanation for this practice?

6 comments:

  1. I've never paid attention to whether others jumped in line ahead of me, but I will from now on. I have no explanation for why it would happen. I think even library employees would have to wait their turn. I'd love to hear what the library says if they ever get back to you.

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    1. I've only had it happen once before, Vicki, and I blew it off because the book was moving pretty quickly through the hold-line. So far nothing from the library and it's been over 24 hours now since I sent them messages through two different platforms. They are making me suspect favoritism is the answer. Their silence is telling, I think.

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  2. That's frustrating! I don't think I've run into any library line-jumpers before. My sister works at a library and she can't think how it happened either. Hope you find out the reason why. (And that you get your place back in line!)

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    1. I don't think they are going to answer me unless someone can dream up a really good story to tell.

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  3. That happens at our library as well, and although I'm retired now, I did work in libraries for 15 years.

    Sadly, if a book with a long holds list is returned but, I work at the circulation desk and decide "wow, that book looks good", I can check it out by override regardless if there are others waiting. I doubt your library staff will admit this.

    It's recently happened to me with my current library and, when I asked the question, I was told "it's a complicated process because books come from various libraries within the state's system". In one case the book was "in transit" on my record for a few weeks and I never got it and then I was back on the long wait list - not fair, I agree.

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    1. This is exactly what I suspect is happening, Diane. I know someone in another state who is in the position to snag books for herself and friends that way and she admits that it happens quite often. The odds of it being a book I wanted are pretty low, and that's the case for any one individual, so I doubt they get many complaints or questions.

      If they don't answer me in the next few days, I'm going to ask the question in person. I know they'll still blow me off, but it might be more difficult, or telling, if they haver to look me in the eye while trying to come up with something that might make me something other than favoritism is involved.

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