Sunday, May 22, 2011

Random Library Adventures

I've owned a King County Library card for five years. Amy needed access to RosettaStone to practice Japanese. KRL didn't have RosettaStone but KCLS did and when I learned that I could receive a KCLS card through a reciprocal agreement with our library system, I signed up and received my card in the mail. Easy! Amy was able to hone her language skills - mission accomplished. Since then, although I've never checked out a physical item, Ken has used their databases for school, supplementing his access to KRL and Olympic College databases.

And then, behold! Seattle Public Library entered into a reciprocal agreement with KRL. This was pretty big news and we had a flurry of questions from our patrons. The conversation usually went like this:

"Will it work like Interlibrary Loan?"
Nope, you have to check out and return items in person.
"But can't I place holds and have them sent to my branch?"
Um, no. You have to check out and return items in person.
"Can I return Seattle Library's books back to KRL?"
NO! You have to check out and return items IN PERSON.
"But what if I'm not going to back to Seattle anytime soon?"
Then you shouldn't check out anything because you have to check out AND RETURN IN PERSON.

Frankly, happy as we were about the reciprocal agreement, it was also driving us mad.

To make matters worse, one of our patrons visited an SPL branch, received her card, and was told that she could return her books to another library system. Sigh. I made a polite what-the-heck call to the offending branch. It turned out that SPL's agreement with KCLS allows items to travel back and forth between those library systems at no charge. The staff assumed that the same was true for KRL.

Things did eventually settle down. We still find an occasional SPL book in the bookdrop but we no longer mutter over it.

I pondered getting an SPL card but ultimately decided that we didn't visit Seattle often enough to make it worthwhile. That changed, however, thanks to my involvement with WLA. I learned that I'd need to be in Seattle for several WLA meetings, spread over four months. I'd be able to check out and return items in person. I went online, filled out a library card application, and chose the Queen Anne branch to pick up my card.

I couldn't place holds until I had my card in hand so I browsed the catalog to see what I might like to order for my second visit. I was astonished. They had Elizabeth Goudge books that I'd never been able to find! They had The Collected Works and Letters of Charles Lamb! I felt like the proverbial kid in a candy shop.

My meeting day arrived at last and, when the meeting ended, I headed to Queen Anne. The experience of actually getting the card deserves a post all its own but for this post, suffice to say that I was finally able to check out a couple of books from their Humor section. I've been back since then to pick up Goudge and Lamb. I am thrilled to have my very own SPL library card.

In other humor news: alas for Pastor Camping and The End Of The World. It isn't at all funny that so many people placed their trust in his prediction, selling or giving away everything, quitting jobs, leaving their families. . . it is sadder than sad. I cannot imagine what they're experiencing now. As a Christian, it's painful to see how ridiculous the Church looks when folks like Mr. Camping come along. I want to tell people, "Don't just blindly follow this guy - read the Bible for yourself and make sure he's teaching what's really in there."

What I did enjoy was how people responded to the whole thing, both before and after. There were many rancorous comment threads about religion and Crackpot Christianity, of course, but the overwhelming response was more lighthearted. People posted photos and commented on Twitter, businesses adapted their signs (Taco Bell: "Now Hiring May 21 Survivors")...there was even a facebook page dedicated to "Post-Rapture Looting." My favorite, at the end of the day, is this billboard.

Now the world gets to wait for 2012.

Overheard on Twitter: Math teachers wanting to illustrate the concept of Infinity could do worse than this line for rental cars.

Next time: acquiring a Seattle Public Library card. Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Thaydra said...

I've thought about getting a card at another system. I'm ashamed to say I've never set foot inside the Seattle Public Library, nor King county or even Belfair... and I lived in Belfair for 3 or 4 years!!

My concern is that I would not be able to get items returned in a timely matter. However, it might also get me out of the house and out and about more!!

I, too, wonder what will now happen to all those people who gave away everything following that man's word... I will say, that though I did not believe it would happen, it did give me pause to contemplate my Self, and where I think I would stand if it did happen.