Wednesday, July 28, 2004

I Love a Library Mystery

Library work is so detailed, and yet there are so many people that work in a biggish library, that it's hard to get everyone doing things exactly the same way. Occasionally, this means that a non-library-approved process develops, silently, bureaucratically, over many months or years. And when it's finally discovered, it's like a tangled ball of wool, waiting to be unravelled and rewound.

We sign out books in other languages here at my library, and because we borrow them in blocks from the Provincial Library, they are not catalogued permanently in our collection. We have a snappy little system to handle checking them out, where a blue card with a library barcode is put in the book's pocket. If a patron wants to borrow the book, we zap the barcode that's on the blue card. In the past (2 years ago), the cards used to be green, but we did a massive overhaul.

In the process of mundane statistic-gathering, we have discovered that somewhere in our seven-branch system, we are still using the green cards! Oh heavens!! The sky is falling!

I am running around, being a library sleuth. Who checks out multilingual books? Who might have green cards? Were the green card barcodes recycled and used on the blue cards? Are there green cards left in any books somewhere? Does a patron have his own stash of green cards? How would he get them wanded without us replacing them? Were the barcodes recycled onto paperback books by accident? All this running in circles for a few little stats. It's lots of fun trying to unravel these mysteries, but it sure can eat up the day.


Blogger argotnaut said...

I miss the ka-CHUNK . . . ka-CHUNK . . . of the library card stamping machine of my youth . . . sigh.

12:01 pm  
Blogger liz said...

Mmmmm...sensory memories....

11:57 am  

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