Local Public Library: Dickweeds a' Plenty

The Montgomery County Public Library of Maryland has earned the wrath of Malienation! Gather round, my minions…it behooves me to educate one and all.

The library system allows you to reserve books online. So far, so good. The problem, though, is that if a book is popular, you can get grey hair waiting for it to come in. So, to get around that, it behooves (oooh, oooh, got to say “behooves” twice!) the user to reserve many books, and taking them as they come in. So? The problem is that it is too easy to get stuck in a dry spell, bookwise, then 2 or 3 books come in at once (ya got 7 days to pickup). Hey, I got a life…I can’t plow through that many books at once (popular books can’t be renewed). I just had to return Manhunt, the book about the 12 days after Lincoln was shot, when John Wilkes Booth was being pursued. A page turner, sure, but I had other stuff to do, too. Now I gotta abandon a cool book in the middle and go to the end of the list again!

I asked a librarian once if it were possible to turn down a book, but not get shoved to the end of the line, i.e., the next guy to want the book gets it, then I get it after him (like at fast food places where you don’t know what you want, so you let the guy behind you go, then it’s your turn again). She looked at me like I had 3 fucking heads, and said, “no, we don’t do that.” :confused:

Since I’m pissing and moaning about the library, I might as well mention this too: you can’t reserve a computer for more than 1 hour. I rarely use it anyway, but when mine took a dump, I had to. It’s still fucked up. One hour seems reasonable, but if there’s no line for computers, you don’t get extra time…so the computers just sit there, unused. Not only that, but the entire county keeps track of your daily usage through their network, so going to another branch will not help! They have a network involved enough to do that, but they don’t have network administrators smart enough to see that it is in everybody’s best interest to operate at near full capacity! Grrrrrrrr… :mad:

Damn…meant to put this in the Pit! :smack:

Off to The Pit.

Cajun Man
for the SDMB

Do you really not understand why they can’t let you turn down a book but not lose your place in line? The people behind you in line shouldn’t have to wait longer because you weren’t ready when your window came.

As for your complaint about the time allowed on the library computers: if it’s true that computers are sitting unused because of it, you should definitely start writing letters, because that’s ridiculous. But if they’ve implemented a district-wide policy, it seems likely that most of the time demand is greater than supply.

What’s the fine if you have an overdue book?

They shot him.

In my public library system, I can “freeze” my holds. I maintain my place in line, but I don’t actually pick up the book until I’m ready - it just goes to the next person in line while I stay at the head of the queue. This doesn’t delay the people behind me - it either speeds up their access to the books (if they get it before I “unfreeze”) or leaves them in the same position (having had the same number of people ahead of them as before, just in a different order). I think it also probably makes the system more efficient by having more people turn in their books when due, instead of paying library fines and holding things up for the people behind them when books do arrive in bunches.

I just found out (after a year and a half), you can request additional sessions if your one hour runs out and the computers are not in use. Suggest that to the head of IT/Branch Manager/whomever it takes.

:eek:

Again!?

:smack:

Oh wait. You meant JWB, not Abe. Sorry!

I don’t know what libraries you’re going to, but at the Davis branch, at least, you can just walk up to an unused computer and start typing.

–Cliffy

Now that’s what I’m talking about! :smiley:

Really? Hmmm…don’t usually use the computers at the library anyway (was just venting), but Davis is a pretty good library anyway the last time I was there, so I’ll have to check it out.

I might be tempted to keep it out for a few extra days to finish the book(s) and pay the fine. You’d still come out much cheaper than buying the book if you finished it quickly.

I’m in Anne Arundel County, and our library fines are 20¢ a day. Definitely worth keeping the book a couple days more and paying the fine, if you ask me.

I have to admit, though, that after living for many years in communities with poor to virtually nonexistent libraries, having a really excellent system available now is pure heaven. You’re bitching about some quality problems, Malienation; try living in a community where the library has zero funding for new purchases for a number of years and it gives you a better perspective on just what you have.

Yeah, even with money it’s easy to screw up libraries. Before we moved to Montgomery County the closest library to my old apartment was an Alexandria City branch. Big building, gorgeous facility, tons of computers, and practically no books worth reading at all. Blech. We’d go to the farther Fairfax County branch because that was a library worth visiting.

–Cliffy

I’m still struggling to overcome a bad bookstore habit developed in the '80s when I moved to LA and the libraries, even in nice neighborhoods, were small and so inadequately stocked that I don’t recall seeing a book less than ten years old on the shelves. The collection could only be described as pathetic. I assume it hasn’t improved since then. A few years dealing with the New Orleans library weren’t much better, as well as a couple other places I lived in the ensuing years. Maryland is the first place I’ve lived in nearly 20 years where I have access to my library account online, and where I can actually find new books on the shelves.

So even though there’s a nice little library branch only a block from my house now and I can borrow any book from anywhere in the state, it takes a conscious effort to remember to just request a book rather than buying it. So far I’ve not had to wait more than a couple of weeks for anything I’ve requested. i’m sure library branches vary, but just having a good public library as an option is a real joy. Don’t take it for granted; you may not always have it.

Heh, you guys have it easy. Around here we have this (looks to be) new, large, and very nice library. The only problem is that is doesn’t actually have any books. OK, it has some, but the stacks only take up maybe 2/3 of the library, are very liberally spaced apart, and have large amounts of empty space on them.

I also think they may not actually employ any librarians. Sure, they have attendants, but they seem a bit too illiterate to be actual librarians. After searching their catalogue for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, not finding it, then failing to find anything by Hunter S. Thompson I figured I must be misspelling his name or something. I enquired at the desk where the two women on duty listened to my question and proceeded with the same search. When I told them I may have the spelling wrong, they apologized for not being able to help as they had never heard of him. I just stood there staring for a while. These two women were of an age that they would have been in college (here I was stupidly assuming they were librarians with degrees) in the early seventies, for crying out loud. Hell, the man had just died the last week and it had been all over the news!

Ugh, there was also the time I stopped in to pick up a copy of The Screwtape Letters and while talking with one of the women on duty mentioned he was one of the greatest Christian apologists. She became very huffy because she didn’t feel, “Christians had anything to apologize for.”

Maybe I have somehow stumbled into the local elementary school library.

Amen. I never realized how lucky I was to be in State College with Penn State’s library. That thing may as well have been the Library of Congress. As it is now I am stuck with one where I think I may have actually read more books than are in the library.

Ahhh the public library.

I grew up in a tiny town in rural Alaska that had an absolutely wonderful public library - they got new releases (generally a wide selection, delivered twice monthly), they had an impressive selection, the librarians were courteous, knowledgeable and helpful. It was heaven.

Now I live in the 'burbs of NYC. My public library is… not so wonderful.

They do get new releases - which is great! However, it’ll be six months after the publish date before any of them hit the shelves, since they refuse to put out a new release until everyone on the reserve list has checked it out. They won’t purchase two copies. That’s just extravagant! The last Harry Potter book is still making the reserve rounds. I inquired about a book that’s not due for publication until December and there are already 20 names on the list. I can just buy the silly thing from Amazon for 16 bucks and then get a chance to read it before it goes paperback.

They also, for reasons I do not understand, only buy parts of series of books. So if I’m reading a trilogy, the library will have books two and three but not one, or one and three but not two, etc. It’s not that the missing book is checked out, they never owned it in the first place. If you don’t want to carry the series, why buy (for example) the fourth book (with books 1 and 3 in collection)? If I’d only run across this once or twice, I’d chalk it up to randomness, but it’s turned up in over half of the series of books I’ve attempted to read via the library.

If you inquire about the missing books and/or request them via interlibrary loan, the library staff acts like you’ve asked them to sacrifice a baby. Or (and this is my favorite) they will deny the existence of the missing book. Several times, I’ve been faced with a library worker person who will flatly deny the existence of book 2 of a trilogy for which I can show them books 1 and 3 and provide the requisite ILL information. The mind boggles.

Then there’s the behavior of the staff. They’re unhelpful and frequently rude. Plus (and this really chaps my ass), the ladies at the checkout will stand there and deride your choice of reading material. I favor sci-fi and fantasy and the occasional romance novel personally (the romance largely because anymore, most of the better written ones are actually mystery or fantasy/sci-fi with a thin veneer of romance over them - plus they’re easy to read on the train to and from work - entertaining, but not so engrossing I have a hard time putting them down when I get to my destination). Every single time I’ve checked out books from my public library, the clerk has made a derogatory comment about my choices. Not "you might like this better " or “that book is poorly written crap” - they weren’t critical of the book itself, but of the genre. If I hear one more disdainful sniff followed by “you know that’s just smut” or “aren’t you too old to be reading fairy tales” or (and this is my personal favorite) “You seem like a nice girl, why are you reading that worthless crap?”, I won’t be held responsible for my reaction.

This is why I’ve started shopping the used books at Amazon. Costs moremoney, but I don’t have to deal with the stupidity of my local library.