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So much for trying the library

Aug - 25 - 2008
Nicole C. Engard

Okay, so my mother needs to learn some new computer skills. I check out her local library system and see that they have no classes listed on their websites (their poorly designed websites). So I tell her to stop in or call them – of course they offer classes, right? Wrong! They don’t have any classes. So now she’s looking elsewhere and maybe coming to visit me to take classes at my local libraries.

Today my mom needs a scanner so I tell her “go check the library.” Of course they have a scanner somewhere – even if it’s behind the scenes they’ll offer to scan the docs for her – right? Wrong! She went to two libraries and had no luck. The second librarian told her to go to Staples – where she’d have to pay.

What the heck is the deal?? Come on people – get your acts together!! A scanner is cheap! Offering classes can be cheap too – you have people in your community that will volunteer their time to share with others. This is not hard to do – and we owe to our communities to educate them and provide them with services they can’t find elsewhere.

Okay – rant over!!

7 Responses so far.

  1. Andrew says:

    What library is this? Sounds like my local public one which also sucks.

  2. Nicole, sometimes our libraries just don’t have the physical capacity to hold classes. We only have 5 internet computers that are busy all the time and they are not configured in a way to hold a class. We’re actively looking to build a new building but it will be years before that happens. As to scanners and faxes there is also a tech support issue to consider – who does the troubleshooting? I’m the only one who’s comfortable with tech, but I’m p/t – although I do what I can to show people how to use computers if they show up on a day I’m working. We have no professional (read: degreed) librarians in the building and our director just asked for voluntary (for now) hours reduction from the support staff. We are a rural library system with 9 branches in various comunities but the Big City library isn’t doing any better. I get very frustrated too when I see what kind of services people want/need but that we have no opportunity to provide. I think there is a lot of other poorly funded libraries out there that are in the same boat. Do you want color printing? You’ll have to go to Kinko’s! I wish it were different, but then that’s why we’re librarians (or on our way).

  3. Nicole says:

    Okay, I understand that, but we’re talking about a well funded library system in a city. Also, I understand that all libraries can’t afford computer labs, but my public library offers hands-off lectures on things – somethings is better than nothing. Get people into the library and interested enough to want to help the library get a full featured computer lab.

    As for a scanner – what support are we talking about? You put a paper on the scanner and hit scan – it’s like a copy machine – actually a lot of bigger copy machines are scanners these days.

  4. When you get patrons who don’t know how to double click a mouse, scanning anything is going to be a full service event! :-) This stuff has been brought up with admin before, but there is just no support from TPTB for those sort of ‘services’ at this time – and our tech department is running on fumes so if we had our Friends buy one they wouldn’t support it either. I get very frustrated with that – I’m kinda on the ‘let’s just do it’ end of things. Luckily there is lots of retirements coming in the next few years…. ‘-)

  5. diane Hamilton says:

    I’m confused about the scanning part. I assume she needed to save it to a disk or flash drive or something? Then why the paper?

    We don’t offer scanners to patrons. I’ve never been asked to and it never occurred to me. If we had scanners for the public, then the scanner would need to be connected to a pc and the patron would have to be able to save their images onto the pc – at least I am assuming they would.

    So no scanners available to patrons in my county.

  6. Nicole says:

    Diane,

    She had some papers she wanted to scan to email to me.

    Do you offer your patrons printers? Do you have copy machines? Did you know that you can get a copier or printer with scanning capability for nearly the same price?

    All she wanted to do was go to the library, scan her papers and email them off.

    Maybe I was just lucky to work in libraries that offered their patrons stations for scanning, printing and word processing – maybe I shouldn’t have assumed that other libraries would offer the same. That said, I am talking about a city library here – and am still confused as to why they are so behind the times.

  7. Kate B. says:

    I agree with Nicole: better a little something than nothing at all.

    I work at a small, rural public library. We have 8 internet computers for public use. Sometimes, when I am teaching a hands-on computer class, I use the public computers and we just put up a sign that says “Computers down for one hour.” More often than not, though, I do a hands-off class and encourage participants to come back and practice at the public computers on their own time. I also tell them my schedule so they know when I will be available to help them later.

    Eeyore Librarian: I am also the most tech savvy person on staff, I am also part-time, and we have no “official” IT department. To overcome those hurdles, I spend some time training staff about new programs or tech procedures (like scanning), then I make cheat sheets and leave them at the circ desk for future reference. Whenever we need to train staff on something new, we hold a meeting for the hour prior to when we open.


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