Sunday, May 21, 2006

we have this love/hate thing going on

I had an extremely frustrating trip to the library today. It's sad, because I really truly appreciate what the Chicago Public Library does for the neighborhoods here,and I think they have incredibly admirable library goals in terms of their committment to interactive and helpful stuff. But... I can never find anything I'm looking for there. I'll look a book up a few days in advance and it will say it's on the shelf, then I show up at the big downtown library and it's not where it's supposed to be. I think I've maybe checked two books out there, simply because what I'm looking for is always missing. Today I was looking for Judith Butler's "Gender Trouble" because I wanted to look at it for something I'm writing soon; there were supposed to be THREE copies there, and there were, in reality, none. So I went and asked the information lady if I was in the wrong place, because their system of organization is a little confusing to me. She told me to look on the reshelving carts, and it was again absent. This is when she filled me in on the system of returns they have there.
Apparently, whenever any book is returned it goes straight to the third floor and into a giant bin, three and a half feet deep and five feet long. They don't move these bins to the sorting area until they're full. She told me it can take upwards of two weeks just for that step. Only then are they sorted and sent to be reshelved.
I mean, who thought of that?! You can't get what you want unless it's been turned in like a month prior to your desired date of checkout, and things that aren't on the shelf are listed as being avalaible. Grrr.

4 comments:

Raquel Laneri said...

wow, that is the most inefficient system i have ever heard of.

PocaCosa said...

This reminds me of the frustration I constantly have with my neighborhood used bookstore, BookBuyers. In contrast with the awesomely fabulous Bookmans chain, where you just drop your books, go shopping, and come back when you're ready, the method of book buying at this store is thus: Sellers can only come between 10-5 on Friday and Saturday, and they may even tell you to leave earlier on Saturday if they've had "too many" sells that weekend. You have to stand in this long line for minimum 15 minutes while someone takes down your name, address, and phone number EVERY time you come (even if you've had an account for years). Then you leave your bags there and they assign you a time - sometimes many hours later - to come back to get your credit/cash/leftover books. Okay, so BookBuyers is a lot smaller than Bookmans. I still don't think it's an excuse!

erica said...

that sounds like...everything in buenos aires...

Feet Animal said...

Hey I was at the library with my friend who needed a book! She even called to have them put it on hold, then when we went to get it a woman there could not find it. So it must have been in that big bin of books. It seems like it wouldn't be that difficult to create a system that was a little better. Even if it wasn't a perfectly smooth one, anything would be better than what they do now.