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Gail Seidenfrau's blog

The Kindness of Strangers

   Our days are busy and our 'to do' lists seem to get longer all the time.  Sometimes a library book gets left behind because we are trying to accomplish so much.  Those of us who work at the library have been surprised and delighted when material finds its way back here because someone somewhere was thoughtful enough to return it.  We've received calls from automobile repair shops, restaurants and beauty parlors when a New City item was left on their premises.  New City residents bring back books found at airport luggage carousels or on airplanes.  People find books in our parking lot or nearby streets aned bring them to our Circulation desk.  In last week's mail, a package from Tennessee contained a book found in a hotel room in Washington D.C.  It was on active loan, we checked it and and it wasn't even overdue!  Recently a man from Michigan found 3 Playaways on an airplane and mailed them back.  His very generous act saved a family well over $100 in lost fees and allowed us to put these items back in circulation

2! 4! 6! 8!

Who do we appreciate!?

It’s the Pages! Did you ever stop to think about how all our books, magazines and audio books are shelved? Every day our Page staff puts away just about all the books returned that day and new items sent up by our Technical staff. Each item on our browsing shelves was put there by a Page. It is their responsibility to shelve non-fiction according to Dewey Decimal numerical order, fiction alphabetically by the author’s last name, and biography alphabetically by subject. If an author has several books then the titles need to be alphabetized. Did you know numbers go before words in a title? As an example when searching the author James Patterson, the title ‘4th of July’ is shelved before ‘Cross,’ and ‘Cross’ is shelved before 'Four Blind Mice.' If there is more than one author with the same last name, books are shelved alphabetically by last name, first name. Each author’s titles are then put in alphabetical order. Did I lose you yet?

More Than Just a Number

     Did you know over 23,000 of our residents have library cards?  We issue over 100 cards new cards a month; and in September known in library land as “card sign up month” and we traditionally sign up over 150 new members.  For several years the total number of members hovered at about 22,000, as people moved and new residents joined our community.  This year has seen a real increase in our membership; even with the growing popularity of eBooks people are more aware of the value, variety and vastness of our library’s collection.

     Some of you like to chat with us and we enjoy your comments as you use the Self-Checkouts or come up to the desk.  I was happy to tell the ‘speculative fiction’ librarian that a young man from another town said we had the best Sci-Fi collection in the county.  Another person from one of the county’s smaller libraries told me how much she loved the playaways and came here because of the depth of our collection.

Be Amazed in 2011

Did you make any New Year Resolutions for 2011?  It seems the focus is on “Best of…” lists rather than on making resolutions for the coming year.  Maybe it’s because we know what happens even to the best of intentions come February.  The Circulation Department is going to take up the challenge.  We’ve always tried to deliver the kind of service you expect.  Our resolution for 2011 is to step it up a notch and exceed your expectations.  Let us know when we do something right, but just as important we need to know when we fall short.  It is our best learning tool. 

You Said It!

  Along with a receipt the self checkouts generated the following remarks from our customers:                                           

   "Cool!"  -  the comment heard most often

   "That was easy."  -  Everyone over 55

   "Just like Home Depot"  -  not exactly

   "Are you going to lose your job?"  - NO!

   "Nothing happened"  -  the publisher's barcode was scanned instead of the library's barcode

   "Let me see if I remember how."  - sometimes yes, sometimes no

   "I don't need the receipt.”  -   press the button anyway to close your account

   “I’ll do it”  -  every child under 5

   Best moments:  the smiles on the little one’s faces when they hear the dinging – makes my day every time.

Holding Patterns

Don’t miss another book being held because of a business trip or vacation.  Did you know you can suspend the material on your request list, not lose your place in the queue and select the date you wish to reactivate the list?  This ability not only avoids missed requests but also allows you to have some control over when your requests arrive.  This might offset the ‘when it rains it pours’ lament.  I set my fiction titles a week or so apart, but that’s just me.

It’s really easy, and now that you’re on our website you’re halfway there.   Go up to ‘My Account,’ click on ‘Holds Requests’ then click in the little box to the left of the title(s) you want to suspend; if you’re going away select all the titles.  Then choose the date to reactivate, and click on Change Status.  Circulation staff can do it for you at the library or call (ext 124) and we’ll do it or walk you through the process.

It's a Wrap!

In use since March, our remodeled Circulation Department still surprises many customers who use the library infrequently.  Now reserved material pick-up is self-service.  Items are wrapped for privacy and requests are shelved alphabetically by your last name.  We include the first three letters of your first name to differentiate those with the same last name.  There isn’t room to print your full first name and we won’t use any personal information relating to your account number.  You’ll quickly become familiar with the general area where your books are located.  Take it to one of our express self checkouts for fast service.  We are so pleased that many of you use the machines which then make it possible for staff to complete other circulation tasks or resolve customer concerns.

The self checkout might direct you to the Circulation Desk if you have overdue material, if your card needs to be updated (a yearly event), if fees are above allowed thresholds or if the hold is not in your name.   For questions about your account please speak to a staff member.

THE SMALLEST BOOKSTORE

Did you miss it?  Our 'for sale' books have new digs.  The 'Smallest Bookstore' is located in the entrance vestibule where the telephone used to be.  Pocketbooks (25 cents) are always convenient when vacationing especially if you fly.  Adult hardcover books are $1.00, children's just 50 cents. Staff restocks the shelves daily, so stop by, peruse the titles and see if you find something to add to your collection.  The Circulation staff will help with any questions.

REMEMBER WHEN

The other day a colleague and I, with a combined total of 40 years at the New City Library, most of it in the Circulation Department, were being questioned by an eager “newhi” (new hire). She was curious about some of the changes we experienced over the years. Do you remember the IBM cards that we used in the eighties? We still get returns with those cards. Just to let you know, we probably don’t want those books back. Computers were introduced in the library in 1991, and we began hand-stamping due dates on index cards. I wonder who thought this was an improvement! We had four different colors to signify the different loan periods in use at the time. Yes, I know some of you still miss them. And the lines! Sometimes, especially after school and on weekends, they would stretch into what is now the comfortable seating area; there were only two terminals at the desk. Our newly renovated Circulation desk has five checkouts, two of which are express self-checks. In the early '90s, all the patron reserves were on a desktop carousel. We’d have about 30-40 reserves at a time.

What's in a Name?

Some things really happen by coincidence but I’m beginning to wonder if something else is afoot.    The last six books I read all have an important character named Henry.   The titles include Breathless (Dean Koontz), Edgar Sawtelle (Wroblewski) and Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet (Ford).  Then I started Olive Kitteridge (Strout) and in the very first section there are two Henrys!  It’s a great name, the name of kings, synonymous with power and strength.  Its popularity is on the rise here and in Europe, but 7 books in a row?   So far no Henrys in my current book, Safe from the Neighbors.

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