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Do I give up on the public libraries?

(28 Posts)
Allgunsblazing Sat 09-Jan-16 16:27:54

We're avid readers. Saturday trip to the library has been our family's ritual for about 20 years.
I live rurally, so when the funds dwindled, I ordered books from other libraries, have them delivered at ours. We even went to neighbouring towns for the bigger selection.
Sometimes we incurred charges, albeit for being late, their system's fault etc...I never grumbled.
Then they introduced the electronic system. Fine. I'd renew online, self service etc, no worries.
But the charges/fines keep coming. The inflexibility. The hassle of remembering the due date. The whole system is absolutely diabolical. And today I had enough. I handed my library card to the librarian after incurring £1.50 charge for an item I renewed (or thought I did, turns out somebody else requested the book, the only way to renew it was to call?! The reason I missed that was because the system renewed the first two books, but not the 3rd. I'd already paid £1.50 for the books to be reserved. Not because there was a queue, but because my library doesn't stock them).

The librarian has obviously seen this before. She begged me to reconsider and continue to use the library. She argumented that we beed our libraries to work, less users mean more closures. I know. That's why I've been putting up with it for so long.

I felt like crying. Like I'm personally responsible and killing a very useful service.
I don't know. What do you think?

ArkATerre Sat 09-Jan-16 16:31:18

She didn't waive it? That's a bit inflexible.
Local authorities have libraries well and truly in their sights and will close as many as they like while putting out fake surveys to pretend they give a shit about service users' opinions. So I wouldn't worry, your little rural library will soon be a thing of the past anyway. And the bigger one in the next town. And the main library in the even larger town.

ladygracie Sat 09-Jan-16 16:31:41

I honestly can't see what the issue is. The things you've listed as being fined for are avoidable. Unless you mean that you have to pay because things have to be ordered in?
It can be hard to remember due dates - our library service emails when books are near the due date. Could yours do the same?

ladygracie Sat 09-Jan-16 16:32:36

Sorry, just seen that you do pay for reserved books, sorry. That is really annoying.

ArkATerre Sat 09-Jan-16 16:33:22

Or you could write it on a calendar, in an online calendar on a phone etc or even on the date label of the item.

antimatter Sat 09-Jan-16 16:36:49

I am sure this is the same rule as we have. If someone reserves book you can't renew it. There's no warning tha it's going to happen so I occasionally pay the fine.
I doubt you can get your books for the amount of fines you pay over the year.

Allgunsblazing Sat 09-Jan-16 16:37:40

Oh, I learnt how to do my own due date reminders and so on, it was a pain, but I did it and also graciously and apologetically accepted and paid the fines when I forgot about them. It's life, isn't it? Today was the last straw I think. It's become a very cumbersome service.

lljkk Sat 09-Jan-16 16:41:10

Weird, I love the electronic system because they email me when items are due back!! And we can easily renew online; with message if item has been reserved so can't renew.

Before that I used to go in the same day every week (say Monday) & check all the cards for items due back or get them renewed to go to at least the next Monday.

What puts me off is we keep losing books... it's so embarrassing to pay for them. Most turn up within a few weeks of paying. Just frustrating.

ArkATerre Sat 09-Jan-16 16:41:15

I think libraries should show more lenience with fines but they are target driven now. Money collected from customers who have forgotten to renew items, or thought they had renewed items as an actual projected target for each branch, increasing annually.

Allgunsblazing Sat 09-Jan-16 16:41:42

Antimatter, I think I can get them for free/very cheap etc. My railway has a free library, drop and pick a book. The selection there is fantastic ( commuters). DD's school has a good library, to which some parents voluntarly contribute to. There's kindle.
I just love the libraries.

PurpleThermalsNowItsWinter Sat 09-Jan-16 16:43:14

There's barely an undamaged book in our library. I stopped using it when they stopped paying the lovely staff to work there. The volunteers were not the nicest bunch of OAP's.

ArmchairTraveller Sat 09-Jan-16 16:45:53

I get emails too, a day or so before the bookis due, and renewing is incredibly easy. I also have a special shelf to keep terack of the library books in my house.
Before they went electronic, I handed in my library card for a couple of decades, because of the fines.

StitchesInTime Sat 09-Jan-16 16:51:54

Does your library's electronic system let you set up email reminders?

I've set up my library online account so that I get an automated email 3 days before books are due back to remind me to renew them (which I can do online). If I can't renew because a book has been reserved it gets flagged up, but the system will renew it for an extra week as a one-off anyway, presumably to give borrowers time to return the reserved book to a library.

I also get automated emails if I've got overdue books. Which occasionally happened if I see the "books due back soon" email and forget to act on it immediately.

MilkTwoSugarsThanks Sat 09-Jan-16 16:52:20

I've given up with our library. Tbh there's not that many books in there any more.

Allgunsblazing Sat 09-Jan-16 17:08:18

No, stitches my county hasn't got all the facilities you described above. The email you get is when the books are overdue and incurring penalties already.
Sometimes, say, I know they're about to be due. I can't renew, so I go to the library. It's shut (open on alternative mornings/afternoons it's all over the place. So I go to the next village (6-7 miles?). I can't even get new books, because the selection is so poor, so it's a journey just to renew/return books.
The thing is: arent't WE paying for the libraries? From our taxes? The service, the whole concept is gone to the dogs.

Bassetfeet Sat 09-Jan-16 17:08:24

I adored the local library in days of yore . A weekly trip with toddlers to browse and the delight of ordering obscure book and it arriving from elsewhere in the UK for small fee. The staff and the ambience . Paid overdue charges with bad grace . Took many a puppy chewed book back and got sensible invoice for its destruction .
A huge bag of books for children and me hanging off the pramsmile.
But times change and now it is indeed electronic self service and very few paper books . Can understand why but still feel sad .

One Christmas Eve I dashed to the local library to collect an ordered book amidst the usual frenzy . Nice fast walk actually .
I was met inside by the librarian offering coffee or sherry with mince pie .
Looking back the gesture was so kind . Lots of alone people elderly or otherwise were the customers they knew would come that day .
Sentimental ? Yes . But boy did I enjoy the sherry and the kindness behind it
Libraries are dead wood now to local councils .
Sorry if have derailed OP . Just wistful .

Allgunsblazing Sat 09-Jan-16 17:10:52

basset that's what's bothering me, really. That's how mine used to be as well. I miss that!

lostindubai Sat 09-Jan-16 17:18:01

The electronic system is very impersonal I think. You can still take the books to the counter for stamping if you want to in ours. I prefer that personally. Looking forward to many years of taking my dc to the library. Please continue to support it!

antimatter Sat 09-Jan-16 17:18:20

Kindle books are not as cheap as they were few years ago.
But if you can source your books elsewhere then why not?

Bluecarrot Sat 09-Jan-16 18:05:27

I must say, our local library is 2 toddler-speed mins away and it's great. The hours have been reduced greatly but it serves as a community Hub ( knitting group etc) and until hours changed recently, as an informal kind of after school supervision for high school kids. They get a good range of newspapers and magazines, including Which? And have a few jigsaws for the kids, and courting stuff on request. They also have several kids group- rhythm and rhyme for toddlers, bedtime story group for older kids, book clubs for primary school age etc. book club for grown ups too.
I get out books even though I don't always read them because there's so much more to our library service than lending books, but if the individual library doesn't hit targets for book lending, we lose all those lovely benefits.

Bluecarrot Sat 09-Jan-16 18:06:07

Counting stuff = colouring stuff!

StitchesInTime Sat 09-Jan-16 18:19:04

The odd opening hours thing sounds frustrating. My 2 nearest libraries dropped their opening hours a few years ago (council cut backs) but they are at least open on the same days / times every week.

And the 2nd nearest one has an excellent selection of toddler books - better than the much larger library in our nearest town - so it's a good one for me to visit with small DC. They even let us off without a fine when DS2 tore a board book we'd borrowed in half recently, which was lovely of them.

rewardformissingmojo Sun 20-Mar-16 19:25:07

Please keep going. It will be impossible to prove the value of the library service to a council looking to make cuts, if borrowers dwindle and book loans drop.

Pissant Thu 16-Jun-16 19:03:59

Our local library is still running with paid staff.

I often call in - even if I can't find a book I want to borrow. I just go for a browse. It is still a popular place - there are always plenty of customers in there.

Every foot over the doorstep is counted.

It will be dreadful if there are no public libraries left. sad

HarrietVane99 Thu 16-Jun-16 19:21:43

I use my public library for borrowing books.

I also make a lot of use of their online resources. I can borrow ebooks or audiobooks, for example. They're deleted automatically at the end of the loan period, so no worries about overdue fines, and I can browse and borrow at home at any time of day or night.

My local library also has a lot of reference material available online, which I should think any family with school age children would find useful.

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