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Self service library counters - I hate 'em

(115 Posts)
SinisterBuggyMonth Fri 22-Nov-13 17:09:36

Ok, if I was on my own, pushed for time, then yes, they are useful.

But, trying to return, renew and borrow books for me and my Ds on separate cards, while v active toddler tries to feed coins in/make a break for the door, and then make sure the correct books go on the shelf or bin, it's unecessary stress, it's a fucker.

Meanwhile there are 2 librarians 2 feet away from me doing bugger all having a chat.

(Dons coat)

TabbyM Wed 27-Nov-13 11:59:50

Our central city library (north of the border) has them and there are plans to change branches too. As a fool that did library studies I hate them as they are replacing staff and as a user I find that staff hover to help in a very annoying way as the machines don't always scan. When possible I like to go to a branch to get books stamped out as I always lose the receipts and can't remember due dates. My childhood library had lovely staff who would recommend books and give you a heads up if a favourite author had a new book (pre internet!) but has been rebuilt and now seems very small. The only good thing in recent years is the ability to renew online IMHO. I avoid self pay tills as well!

HumpdayPlus Tue 26-Nov-13 20:19:45

stingingnettle, in your example the 10 books you staff scan out aren't counted, how do they know that you're meeting a 90% target? confused They must be counting the staff-scanned ones, or you would unfailingly have a 100% self-scan rate.

Sounds like someone's telling the staff porkies in order to get you all to comply.

But I'll say again, if you don't like how your local library service is being run, say so. Write to your council, write to your MP, write to your paper. Explain to them why it doesn't work for you.

ohmeohmyforgotlogin Tue 26-Nov-13 20:10:22

Thanks for the tip. Thought there might be some way the machine would know that is what you're doing

ohmeohmy we have similar to your 'hot picks' where I work. Trick is to pop in, return it and then take it out again. You've effectively renewed it for another week then. Depends how often you can visit of course...

TheRaniOfYawn Tue 26-Nov-13 19:48:01

I like the machines. They are easy for even tiny children to use, I can return very overdue books workout having to get too embarrassed and there are always staff around at the information desk/shelving books/ helping out as well as running the library.

bassetfeet Tue 26-Nov-13 16:33:05

Doh Christmas Eve !

bassetfeet Tue 26-Nov-13 16:31:30

I adored my library when the children were younger . Now I fumble with the self service thingy and look stupid . I like a chat smile

One very stressed year I called in to collect a reserved book after shopping to lug home on foot . The staff greeted me with the option of sherry or orange juice and mince pie ....out their own pockets for those lonely or elderly visiting that day . I have never forgotten how lovely the library was that day for those on their own and facing a long holiday break.

ohmeohmyforgotlogin Tue 26-Nov-13 16:15:49

Not bothered by self serve but am annoyed that our libraries now have hot picks which means every newish, decent book to read is only available one week loan non renewable. Chances of getting it read and returned in that time if I am not on holiday minimal so risk fines so don't borrow. Neither does anyone else as they are all piled high on several tables.

Just a thought - it's a lot easier now to check out books about embarrassing medical conditions. Or slightly um, racy novels. :-D Not that I would do such a thing. And especially not on my dc's card so I don't get late fines. :-D

DorisHerod Tue 26-Nov-13 16:03:24

Stinging nettle- that is just so dreadful. What an awful system. I wonder if you work where I live...

cornflakegirl Tue 26-Nov-13 15:16:02

I'm quite happy to use the machines. My sons like them because you can change the backgrounds to space or jungle. They're straightforward to use. The email reminders of return dates and the ability to renew and reserve books on-line are fantastic.

The library staff do loads of stuff that adds value to me, like finding all the books that I've reserved, changing the book displays so that I notice and borrow different books, administering the summer reading scheme. I don't particularly need them to scan books for me. Plus the staff at our library are always happy to help if you have a problem with the machines.

The council has a decreasing budget, and the library has already had its hours reduced. I'd rather the machines than even fewer hours of library opening.

I'd like to still have the personal touch of someone scanning the books, with the chance to get to know the staff and share a love of books, but I know that I can't have everything.

StingingNettle Tue 26-Nov-13 14:59:51

I work in a library and we have to encourage borrowers to use the machines or scan books through the machines on their behalf. It's how our active usage is recorded - if I issue 10 books through the machine and 10 at the counter, only the 10 at the machine show in our figures. Its bonkers, we are a fairly busy library and only have one machine - so lots of queuing - we are well aware of the customers looking over at us and wondering why the hell we aren't serving them. We need all the book issues we can get - its the figure they base the need for the libary on - if we start issuing at the counter our book issue would fall significantly possibly resulting in reduced hours or worse still closure.
We have to hit a 90% RFID (self-service) target, if we don't we are named and shamed county wide and severly bollocked. I've started explaining this to the customers (- going totally against the company "efficency drive" drivel that we are supposed spout) it's mad and only going to get worse.

Sorry, that should have been directed at ryangoslingspants, not remus.

remus we have these machines in Edinburgh libraries.

I don't particularly like them but it saves spending hours queuing up at the desk - the librarians, or library assistants, I'm not sure - seem to double up as council advisors and are always sitting in long consultations with people waving letters about housing benefit. It's odd.

Wilding Tue 26-Nov-13 14:07:46

I love the machines... sorry. Takes two seconds to take out a huge pile of books - you don't even have to scan them or put them down, just wave them in the general direction of the machine and you're done. And I get an email a couple of days before they're due back as a reminder.

valiumredhead Tue 26-Nov-13 13:03:21

The only way I remember what date to remember to return the books is of if I put a remember in my phone.

The irony of needing to use one device to cope with another device is not lost on me...hmm grin

valiumredhead Tue 26-Nov-13 13:01:16

Actual I have completely changed my mind about self service tills! Had coffee this morning with a friend of mine who is over 65 and had said she won't go to the library now as she's not great about 'new things.'sad

Bring back the stampy librariansgrin

Wallison Mon 25-Nov-13 13:56:20

I hate the self service things because they don't stamp the book with the return date. All you get is a bit of paper which I promptly lose. What use is that? Also agree with posters who think libraries are too noisy these days - it's difficult to concentrate on what you're doing when there's a bunch of semi-feral kids running around chewing on books etc.

PaperMover Mon 25-Nov-13 13:51:00

I agree most Librarians will have a postgraduate qualification, but not all. Some will have entered the profession with a degree in library/info studies; some will have a variety of qualifications ranging from none to Phd and will have qualified via Certification, "on the job". Some people have the job description of "librarian" but have no professional qualification.

I don't think the professional body has been enough help to its members in a rapidly changing information heavy world. Library staff in general get a very bad press, maybe not quite as bad as teachers mind ;).

Thurlow Mon 25-Nov-13 12:12:42

I don't mind them but they are hard to use with a curious toddler in tow.

However, as another librarian, I just wanted to agree that we are being royally shat on as a profession. There have been so many redundancies in every area (public, academic, private sector) that there is hardly any career progression available at all. This is a sector where you have to have a postgraduate qualification, so we've all sunk 4-5 years at uni and a lot of money into becoming a librarian. Now we have very little to show for it, and so few people understand the skills and knowledge of information management, teaching, training etc involved in our job that we don't even get a look in for jobs where our skills would transfer over quite well.

I used to love my job and my career, but frankly it sucks right now.

Arabesque1 Mon 25-Nov-13 12:03:12

If the idea behind the machines was genuinely to free up staff to be more hands on and available to the public, then that would be fair enough. But certainly in my library it has been to remove them from the general library space and make it clear that they're there to do more of the admin. work. Also, the installation of the machines seems to have gone hand in hand, in some cases, with a refurbishment of the library which has generally made it more impersonal and soulless with lots of empty space and fancy seating, and the books laid out in a manner that is at best off putting and at worst confusing. The whole air of 'community' has disappeared from a lot of libraries which is very sad, particularly for the many elderly people who enjoyed spending time in a warm, quiet, calm place with friendly assistants to chat to and nice comfy seats to sit in and read the paper.

PaperMover Sat 23-Nov-13 19:10:23

nocarsgo yes, well, you'd better watch it, that's all...

A self service machine can't stop a student self servicing himself. They can't clean up when someone comes on and poos behind the paperbacks.

I now work in a Uni library, we've just had a wave of redundancies and staff replaced by machines and student on a low grade. If someone asks us to issue a book to them we have show them how to use the self service. If we don't we get told off ( yes told off!)

IfNotNowThenWhen Sat 23-Nov-13 11:01:53

I really feel for AlpacaPicnic, who is getting laid off from her Library job. This is the other thing-libraries have had their services cut so visciously it almost seems personal..
Even before the cuts, library jobs were being de-skilled and de valued (my bestest friend was a library assistant for years, doing all the kids events, and was massively underpaid for the job she did).
The more people use the self service machines, the more councils can justify cutting staff hours even more, because self serve is what we "want".

weirdbird Sat 23-Nov-13 10:52:43

From reading this thread it would appear there are lots of different types of machines, the ones we have, you have to choose the borrow option on screen, then scan your card, then open each book and scan the bar code, which you cannot do one handed. Then you choose to finish. You have to do this for every card, so with 5 of us it does take a while.
It is fine if you have older children and yes they love to scan their own now.
But when they were all toddlers it was a PITA, cause you had to use both hands and you had to pay attention to what the screen was telling you.
I can see the logic of having them right next to the exit, but it just made it so stressful, whereas before then going to the library with them had been one of my favourite parts of the week.

FrauMoose Sat 23-Nov-13 10:42:36

The library I work in does not yet have machines for scanning borrowed and returned books. But there is a computer which serves as a kiosk for booking to use the other PCs.

Some people don't wish to use the kiosk, or be taught how to use it. It is a relatively straightforward process, and anyone who is literate enough to use the computers should be able to manage it. I can understand that some people value the interaction with library staff. However by coming and having a long chat/monologue about, 'Um I'd like to use Number 6. Isn't that available? Oh what a shame. I want an hour. No,maybe 45 minutes would be enough. Actually make it an hour. No I don't want to wait another 15 minutes till one's available fora a full hour. Are you sure one isn't available for an hour now? What do you mean Number 7 isn't free. There's nobody sitting there now.' And in the meantime the queues are building up, and the people who need more specialised help are having to wait.

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