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Gail Seidenfrau's blog

Service Update Revised

My previous blog gave a long explanation about hold pickup dates.  I also mentioned that our new software system keeps evolving; well it evolved a bit more today so I pulled that post.  Here is the most current explanation of what happens when your hold becomes available at the library.  All holds generate a wrapper with the first 4 letters of your last name and the last 4 digits of your barcode.  The item is wrapped, banded and shelved that day.  Email notices go out the same day and include a pick up until date. As of February 6, all reserves will be held for 5 days from the day they become available.  If you are notified by our automated phone system, the call is placed the day after a hold is available and remains on our shelf for 4 days from the date of the call.  Starting February 6, Roboguy will give you a pick up date.  If you check your account online, place your mouse over the green exclamation point.  You'll see the date the item became available and you have 5 days from that date to pick up your hold.

New Wrappers

The first phase for reserve notification is in place.  New City card holders are receiving pickup dates either by email or an automated phone message.  You will notice that wrappers are printed in a new format; the first 3 letters of your last name and the last four digits of your library barcode.  Having your library card in hand will facilitate finding your reserve.  Last names can start with the same three letters, so it wil be faster and more accurate to identify your material by the last 4 digits of your barcode. Names are shelved in alphabetical order, then we'll shelve according to numerical order.  For example, MAR 2486 will be shelved before MAR 9128.  If picking up items for family members it will be helpful to have their cards.  The self-checkout machines prevent errors by only allowing checkouts on the account that placed the reserve.  Your library card is the safest and most accurate way to protect your account and we encourage you to bring it with you every visit.

Introducing Automated Calling

At this time of year we think back on those deserving of our thanks.  Circulation Services would like to recognize our wonderful volunteers who over the years have given so generously of their time to phone our customers when reserve items are available at the library.   On December 8th, the library expects to go live with a new intergrated library system and for the first time all Ramapo Catskill libraries will have the ability to deliver holds pickup information via an automated calling system. Our customers will be part of this new and exciting experience.

Hitting the Wall

A popular online social network site allows one to express a thought as well as display pictures on a 'wall.'  Friends can add their comments to the wall or choose to 'like' what they see.  The dialogue below between three friends is fueled by a composite of various situations one might encounter working at a library, real or imagined.

Friend 1:  I'm going to the library today

Friend 2:  Like

Friend 3:  I go to the library often and browse the fiction shelves and look through the DVD collection.  There is something special I'm trying to find.

#2:  Like

#1:  Today I want to renew a DVD.  It has a whole year of episodes of a TV show my mom watched when she was a teenager.  I have one more disc to see, but I've renewed it 2 times already.

#3:  Isn't that the limit?

#1:  Yes, but maybe if no one else wants it I can get it again.

#3:  What's the name of the show?

#1:  'Dallas'

#3:  Hey, that's the one I"m trying to find.

#1:  I didn't think anyone else wanted it.  I'll return it tonight.

#2:  Like!

Not Your Top 10

Below you'll find the top 10 reasons customers wind up paying for a lost or damaged library item. Follow the tips to avoid the list.

10.  "I ran over it with my car."  Keeping items in a sturdy bag will store them safely.  The library sells reusable bags for your convenience.

8.  "The disc melted, scratched or cracked."  Discs and cases left in direct sunlight will melt so it is best not to leave them exposed in the car.  For your listening and viewing pleasure hold disc edges to avoid smidges or scratches.

7.  "My coffee spilled; it might be sauce; it's blueberries; gum..." and so on.  We've heard them all.  It's best to copy a recipe rather than cook from an open library book; food or liquids nearby is trouble waiting to happen.

7.  "The baby is teething."  Babies love our board books and not just for those cute pictures.

5.  "My puppy is teething."  I know about that one; Buddy, a dog of refined taste, dispensed with 'Arrowsmith' in one evening.  Fortunately it wasn't a library book.

Upstairs, Downstairs

What is going on?  Did you do a double take when you saw a familiar face from 'downstairs' working at the Circulation desk? Perhaps you saw some unfamiliar faces behind the AV desk.  Your eyes did not deceive you.  In June, AV and Circulation became one team known as Circulation Services.  We are working together to improve our service model and hope to be up to speed soon.  There is so much to learn, but cross training will give us the flexibility to provide staffing where needed at any time.  So whether we are upstairs or downstairs our focus remains on you, our customers.

Reservations 101

Technology allows us to place holds through our online catalogue or with a librarian.  New City members place thousands of requests each month.  The title you select is placed in a queue in the order it was received.  You might be 27th when you check the list, but just a few hours later you are notified that the item is here at the library.  How could that be?  The queue includes all requests throughout the RCLS system.  However, location, location, location is key.  New City members receive priority on our material.  When a requested New City owned item is checked in, the first New City member in the queue gets it. If all our copies are out, another library may be able to supply the title.  Also if we don't own the item, your request is sent to another library that does own it.  Our transit delivery system is an integral part of 'reserve fulfillment.'  Our library receives over 3000 items a month from throughout the system!

Fine Memories

Almost every day a customer at the Circulation desk is remorseful for owing even the smallest fine.  Some of you worry jokingly if Mr. Bookman (a Seinfeld episode) will be ringing your doorbell.  We'll hear how as a child it was unheard of to return  library books late.  Fines, never!  Facing those austere people behind the desk was like being called to the principal's office.  While we hope our wonderful Circulation staff presents a friendlier atmosphere, this library ethic has stayed with many of you. 

Most libraries weigh in on the pro side for charging fines for material returned past the due date.  Returning books on time shows consideration for those waiting as well as browsers in the library.  We try to meet your requests in a timely manner, so on time returns keep library ordering down.  Those on the con side believe fines are punitive and serve to keep people from using the library.

The Kindness of Strangers

   Our days are busy and our 'to do' lists seem to get longer all the time.  Sometimes a library book gets left behind because we are trying to accomplish so much.  Those of us who work at the library have been surprised and delighted when material finds its way back here because someone somewhere was thoughtful enough to return it.  We've received calls from automobile repair shops, restaurants and beauty parlors when a New City item was left on their premises.  New City residents bring back books found at airport luggage carousels or on airplanes.  People find books in our parking lot or nearby streets aned bring them to our Circulation desk.  In last week's mail, a package from Tennessee contained a book found in a hotel room in Washington D.C.  It was on active loan, we checked it and and it wasn't even overdue!  Recently a man from Michigan found 3 Playaways on an airplane and mailed them back.  His very generous act saved a family well over $100 in lost fees and allowed us to put these items back in circulation

2! 4! 6! 8!

Who do we appreciate!?

It’s the Pages! Did you ever stop to think about how all our books, magazines and audio books are shelved? Every day our Page staff puts away just about all the books returned that day and new items sent up by our Technical staff. Each item on our browsing shelves was put there by a Page. It is their responsibility to shelve non-fiction according to Dewey Decimal numerical order, fiction alphabetically by the author’s last name, and biography alphabetically by subject. If an author has several books then the titles need to be alphabetized. Did you know numbers go before words in a title? As an example when searching the author James Patterson, the title ‘4th of July’ is shelved before ‘Cross,’ and ‘Cross’ is shelved before 'Four Blind Mice.' If there is more than one author with the same last name, books are shelved alphabetically by last name, first name. Each author’s titles are then put in alphabetical order. Did I lose you yet?

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