Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Modern Library

One of the charms of the BVI library system up to now was the old-fashioned method used for tracking circulation. For the past year and a half, I have been accustomed to selecting my books in the library, and taking them to the circulation desk, where the circulation cards were removed, stamped with a due date, and filed in a wooden box on the desk. The box had numbered dividers, 1-31, and the circulation cards of the books I had just checked out would be paper-clipped to my library card, and filed behind the number matching the due date. The due date would then be stamped in the book, and off I would go.

If I brought my books back a few days late, it was no big deal as the librarians usually didn't want to bother having to calculate fines at 10 cents a day for only a handful of days. About once a month, someone at the library would go through the box, and if there were any egregiously overdue books, send out threatening letters quoting the amount of fine due and asking for the books to be returned. It was a beautifully simple system.

So imagine my surprise when I went to the library to renew some books yesterday morning, and there, in the space previously occupied by the lovely wooden box, was a brand-new 19-inch flat screen monitor, keyboard and mouse. I was doubly astounded as I asked to renew the books I'd had out for five weeks, when the librarian flipped them open to reveal electronic bar codes already pasted inside. Obviously this is a change that has been in the works for a while now, but that has only been recently fully instituted. As I watched the librarian  scan the books to renew them for two weeks, and paid my $2 in fines, I mourned the passing of an era in the BVI library system.

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