Monday, 15 November 2010

Library loot

K and I had an outing to Thame on Saturday. It was principally to have a nice afternoon out and to go to a cookshop to try to replace my pink silicon baking sheet (NB - while they are oven proof, they are not grill proof)...unfortunately they only had red ones, which I was not willing to buy. We picked up some goodies in Waitrose (gluten free chocolate croissants and almond tarts for me, a bottle of Porter and a jar of Chai Latte powder for him), popped into Oxfam where I picked up an original green VMC edition of Rosamund Lehman's short stories - too lovely to resist even though I'm trying so hard not to spend money, but the highlight of our afternoon out was the visit to the new library, which opened in July.

I didn't take my camera as I wasn't anticipating things being so exciting, but here is a picture from the library website. I always like visiting other libraries, partly because they have different book stock (of which more below), partly because the layout of smaller libraries tends to encourage me to browse more widely, but also because with my librarian's hat on I love to see how things are done, even though I no longer work in the public sector.

The library itself was very new and shiny, but lost points immediately for not having a staff desk visible when entering. We had some books to return (Oxfordshire lets you return books anywhere) and couldn't see where to do it. It then transpired that you could use the self-issue machines to do this; fair enough, but the library needs to make it clearer, because if someone trained in libraries can't figure out what to do, then it's unrealistic to expect other people to. There was lots of curvy shelving, which made it a little difficult to find the sequences of books - I struggled to find the start of the fiction, but there was a coffee machine upstairs and plenty of comfy seating. The most exciting bit was taking the books out - I'd identified the self issue machine by this point, and started scanning my books as I sometimes do at the main library, when the books suddenly started to appear on the screen without me scanning them! Being a librarian-type, I realised that they had RFID tags in the books (or radio frequency identification for the uninitiated...). This means that you just have to scan your card, and then put your books on a special spot on the counter, and the books are automatically added to your record. Clever! Despite having worked in libraries for over a decade (eek!), I had never actually seen this in action before (well, it is a relatively new technology) But again, I couldn't see any signs about this - I think it could have been confusing without my library background!

The most entertaining bit of the trip was K and I fighting over the remaining spaces on our cards. We use our cards interchangeably, or rather, I use his card as well as mine, which means we can take out up to 40 books between us, or rather, I can stack up books at home. I've been on a bit of a chick-lit binge recently:
and with other books that I've taken out, we were only able to choose 8 books to take home with us. K looked so wistfully at me that although I could have taken armfuls home with me, that for once he ended up taking home as many books as me... Mine weren't terribly exciting, but here are his:
So there we go, a successful afternoon out and a chance for me to indulge my library geek.


  1. oooow, I must go take a look too! So do you reckon the whole of oxfordshire will go RFID one day?
    Were there librarians around- even though there wasn't a counter as such?

  2. When you told me you had maxed out your cards, I thought you meant credit cards!! Now I see what you mean. The library looks like heaven to me. I wish we could take our books back to different libraries.

    I have read the Catherine Alliot one and rather enjoyed it.

  3. How advanced!

    Our main library has been closed because of Vandals letting water in, and now it has ruined the concrete. Although due to cutbacks our main library was shut all day on a Friday. Do not even get me started on that! The local library to me is a bit hit and miss. I am picking up better books in the charity shops at the mo!

    I like the chick lit pile! Let us know how you get on with them.

  4. So true about when we enter a new building/institution that we're confident in and don't know how to use/find things - how do other people manage? Glad you had a good day out.

  5. Isn't it lovely to have a whole new library to chose from?! We have that technology in west Cornwall. It seems to impress some people and terrify others.

    I can only think of one volume of Lehmann short stories in green form, and that cover is particularly lovely. Congratulations!

  6. I wish our library had a coffee machine! Sounds like a perfect afternoon.

  7. As a circulation desk clerk I think I'd better start brushing up my CV! We have self-checkout now but I'd say fifty percent of customers come to see me with a problem.

    Excellent find in the Virago, Verity!

  8. Verity, it's the same in Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, you are able to return books to any branch within the respective counties.

    When I collect reserved library books, I have to check to see what colour paper wrapper they have on the outside. Your name is written on the piece of paper, reserved books are stored on a set of shelves near the staff desk.

    White paper, means it's a do it yourself task at the self issue/return machines. Yellow paper that you have to get a member of staff to do the business for you as the book will have come from a branch that hasn't got the self issue technology yet.

    In the old days, reservations were kept in a locked walk in cupboard and you had to get a member of library staff to go and find the books for you.

  9. I've used self issue but never so hi-tech.
    Ominous the lack of an obvious staff desk tho. Are us friendly faces @ the front counter to be replaced by machines?
    The "chick lit" pile looks just the thing for cold & gloomy winter days.

  10. What a lovely pile of books! I'm very lucky to have a library at the top of my road but I have to say that yours sounds much better!

  11. Oh, I did not realise it was that new. My small library in my parent's hometown introduced it a couple of years ago and they presented it as something special, but I was sceptical because small towns in the Netherlands presenting something as advanced? They have a system like that in the uni-library here in Sweden as well, but I cannot use it because I have a temporary card.

    It looks like you both found books you really like. I have to admit that I wouldn't even consider reader the pile of K..

  12. LOL! It is interesting to read a librarian's perspective on going to a new library. We have self service checkout in a few libraries in Surrey and I agree that it can be hard to work out what to do when you visit a library for the first time - they all have slightly different ways of doing things.

  13. A couple of libraries in our area have self service checkout but I haven't had the joy of using it yet! I am very envious of your ability to have 20 books out on one card, we are limited to 9 each and I still manage to chalk up fines...thankfully I have some very understanding librarians in my local establishment...

  14. So many comments, and I'm sorry I don't have time to reply to them all, but it was so interesting reading about your library experiences. I think we are lucky here in Oxfordshire - I think we will have to make another trip to a different one soon :)

  15. We've got those machines in our local library. Once you get the hang of it they're a joy to use. But I'm also glad that there's always a librarian at hand if I have questions:)


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