LSJ Editors' Blog: Ethics slashed from the BECPL budget

15 May 2006

Ethics slashed from the BECPL budget

This patron's story in the Buffalo News yesterday has me worked up. Even though the patron was in Europe with her library card at the time of checkout, she is being held responsible for a DVD checked out to her account but never returned. The BECPL's argument seems to be that it is impossible to check something out to someone without their library card, so obviously she gave her card to someone else while she was in Europe. Anyone who has worked circulation will know that this is a flat out lie- items can and do get checked out to patrons without their card, and mixups can and do happen for a number of reasons.

I myself have had run-ins with the BECPL circulation desk and have found it frustrating that they so easily will lie to me about what the system can and cant do (in my case it was, to paraphrase: "yes it was our fault that your book is overdue, but it is impossible to backdate a checkin or clear a fine"). I'm all for contributing money to my local underfunded public library, but I find these sorts of things offensive and embarrassing. I think public libraries have a duty to provide the best possible service with whatever money they have, without treating patrons like rubbish.

I wonder, then, if what is needed is a website where library patrons can send stories like the one in the Buffalo News above. Neutral librarians with their expertise could offer advice, let the patron know when they are being cheated. Libraries could be ranked by number of complaints. It might be a good way to police ourselves, so to speak. Hmm...maybe we'll set something up here at LSJ.

Oh, and if anyone out there works for the BECPL, I'd love to hear what sort of notes are in my patron record.


Blogger burlapwax said...

I still have an issue with the fact that the OPAC for BECPL hasn't been updated to correctly link the "quick search" to the CATALOG rather than the Databases (which require a library card number). And a variety of other aggravations that just plain haven't been addressed.


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