I haven’t been in the library for years, which probably won’t surprise you as I am guessing most of you haven’t either. Anyway there is a nice one around the corner from my office so I popped in the other day at lunch to pick up some extremely nerdy computer books in an attempt to teach myself more nerdy computer stuff. I was at the counter getting my new library card and hearing all the benefits of this wonderful card (one free hour of internet per day, 3 week lending with 24 hour over the phone renewals…so exciting) from a truly unenthusiastic character with an incredibly monotone voice when I kept getting distracted by an elderly lady putting books in this glowing blue box.
When monotone man was finished his spheal on the overdue fines (£.25 per day – didn’t’ it used to be 1 cent?!) he clearly could see I was intrigued with the big glowing box and took me over to it and you know what it was???? it is a machine that checks out the books for you!!!!!!! (yes, I am that excited).
Okay, so here’s what you do, walk over to the machine, put your books in – all of them, at once, in a stack, doesn’t have to be a neat stack, alphabetical stack, just chuck em in. The machine detects the books using radio waves and then displays a list of the book titles on screen you click okay and it prints out a little receipt for you with the books and the due dates, it also deactivates the sensor in the book so you can leave without setting off the alarm or ever having to talk to someone….you can renew your books AND return them this way! Who knew!
It’s a far cry from having to search for the book using the dewy decimal system then take it up to the front where they took the little card out of the book and replace it with the ‘return by card’ then took out their (always too dry) stamp pad, got the date stamp out, checked the date, smooshed it against the too dry stamp pad then proceeded to pound down on the return card multiple times to make sure the faint date that came out was legible…repeat for each book. I am sure monotone man would refer to those days as ‘the good ol’ days’ – when he was excited to come in in the morning to change the date on the date stamp and ensure the index cards were still in dewy decimal numerical order. Instead every morning he passes fancy glowing box and gives it a little kick praying each day that the library gets hit with either an electrical failure or a computer virus that would send people running back to him and his date stamp…