A couple of months ago my library made a very noticeable change. When you had a book on hold and ready to be picked up, instead of going to the circulation desk and having the librarian find the book on the shelfs kept behind the desk and then checking you out, it is now up to the library user to get their book and then take it to the desk to check out.
They library cleared off a wall of shelves and now puts all the books/items on those shelves for people to find themselves. There are sheets of paper sticking out of them with your name so you can easily identify which ones are for you.
While I don't mind finding the books myself, when it first happened I wondered if this was just the beginning. What else would the library end up changing that would require the users to do more and the librarians to do less, meaning they wouldn't be needed?
I have to admit that I don't use the library much myself, at this point I only use it for audio books and some cookbooks. However I understand the need for a great library system and I know how much it's a blessing for a lot of people/families. So while I don't mind the change, it just made me wonder what we could expect, how would this effect the library in the long run. A library needs librarians.
Then, about 2 weeks ago I was in the library picking up an audio book and I noticed a computer set up on the circulation desk but facing where users could use it..and it was off to the side. It also had other equipment by it. Everyone walks by this when they head into the library, so it's easily noticed. I was on my way to check out with my audio book and took a closer look. It's a self-serve checkout. Uh-oh. One more thing that library users could do themselves without the need of a librarian.
I have to admit, I used it. It worked great, it was super easy and fast. I used it because, heck, I work on pc's and new things interest me, I had to give it a try myself. You put your books, all of them, on a pad in front of the pc. Then you scan your card using the same device the librarians have on their pc's. The pad picks up what books you are checking out and will mark them as being checked out to your account. You then press the prompt on the screen to print a receipt and you are free to leave. It takes less than 5 minutes.
Then I was back in the library a couple days ago, and I used it again. I admit it...I did. There was a line to check out with the librarians and nobody on the self-serve machine. I was able to check out my books and was on my way out the building before the librarians had finished checking out the people they were helping when I walked up to the self serve machine. I cringe saying this, but I like the self serve machine. It's faster, it's easy.
Yet, it worries me. I don't want to see librarians being let go because technology is phasing them out. I worry about what is next. If I can pick up my own reserve books and then check myself out, what's next?
Have you noticed these changes in your library? What are your thoughts about these changes? Is it all bad or are there some good aspects to it?