Thursday, February 5, 2009

The public library branch I most favor has had self check-out and self-service pick-up for holds for several years now. I LOVE both of these. Partly I like it just because they speed things up. I can just run in, grab my holds, and check them out quickly. Sometimes there is a line for self check-out but I've never waited long. When I've placed a hold on a DVD I have to pick it up from the circulation desk and that can definitely take longer. Not anybody's fault, but it can take a while.

And, I blush to admit, I have been a bit freer placing holds on library materials since I knew that I wasn't going to have to pick them up from, well, from a person! But, of course, these books are on a shelf with a fairly easy to decipher version of my name sticking out of the top. Last week's lecture was an interview of Candace Morgan who pointed out that this system doesn't maintain patron privacy very well. She is actually concerned that this system will be used as a wedge to begin chipping away at our right to privacy with respect to library records.

Of course, this system IS less private than the old one so...why do I feel like I have more privacy?

I suppose there are ways to have our library cake and eat it too. The holds could continue to be self-serve but be place in closed boxes with names on the boxes. Or we could have some kind of code instead of our names on the hold slips. My name isn't actually on the hold slip right now. Instead, a shortened version of my name, intended to increase patron privacy, is on the hold slip. I suppose that if it was too much of a code, people wouldn't remember - but this doesn't seem an insurmountable problem.

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