Thursday, February 11, 2010

The unreturnability of library books

After the last book saga, I was not delighted to see that the library believes I'm still borrowing many of the books from my orals lists, books that I most definitely returned at the end of last semester. After failed attempts at dealing with this with two different people at circulation (the first seemed to be new at the job, and the second just seemed annoyed and told me to fill out an unrelated form), a third employee seemed to get the issue. He took down the relevant call numbers, and asked me if I'd by any chance returned these books in December. As it happened, I had. Well! Turns out that there was this one day in December when the system crashed, and none of the data from that day got saved. The day happened to coincide with the one I chose for the Great Post-Orals Book Return - one of the major rounds of it, at any rate.

The next step is that someone will go into the stacks to see if the books I allegedly still have are there, which might be reassuring if books were where their call numbers might have you believe they'd be, not just in that general area. (No, "DS" doesn't just go with "DS".) And yes, having been a book-shelver during college gives me the autoritah to fuss about this.

6 comments:

Matt said...

Yes, I started to worry when it sounded like they were going to make the decision on whether to charge you for the books or not based on whether they could find them on the shelf, as I'd hate to bet against things being misshelved or taken to a carrel by someone, but not checked out, or many other misadventures. Good luck!

Phoebe said...

Matt,

How else might a library decide who does or doesn't get fined? My office-mate suggested they make it so you watch as they scan in the books you return at circulation, but that's hard to picture, given that back in December, the system was piling all the books on the circulation counter and hoping someone got to the ensuing mountain eventually.

Nick said...

That happened to me. There's some online protest, form I think. Thank heavens they found the book -- had they not I would have been *way* pissed...

Matt said...

I've been known to sit at the library and watch them check in the books, but it sounds like this wouldn't have helped in this case, if the computer wasn't storing the information. And of course they have to do something, but if they can't find a book (as you say, not an implausible event) it's surely their fault. That was my only point.

Phoebe said...

Nick and Matt,

I guess what I'm wondering is more how libraries would avoid doing this. Matt, I took from your comment that your university's library found some kind of alternative. Alternatives interest me here because of the two books I took out yesterday, one was shelved in the wrong spot, and I've actually been starting to physically remove mis-shelved books and put them somewhere where they'll (hopefully?) get shelved correctly, even though I'm no longer paid for this task. (Is the answer to apply for my old job, but at NYU, and fix the system from within?)

I have little reason to believe the library will locate all the books from the stack I (and, obvs, hundreds of other people) left that fateful December day. My only idea is to hold a book I took out that day, that I think is sort of valuable, and that they have no record of my having taken out, hostage, until all's settled, dangling the book in front of the circulation desk until it all gets resolved.

PG said...

I've never been paid to shelve, but the one thing I'm maniacal about keeping orderly are books, so I'll shelve them in the proper place on my own initiative at libraries and bookstores.