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LostInParadise's avatar

How do you feel about the automation of the local public library?

Asked by LostInParadise (27688points) May 12th, 2019

For a while now it has been possible to reserve books online from distant branches of the county library system, to be delivered to the local branch. It has also been possible to renew them online. Those are features that I appreciate and have made frequent use of.

Lately automation has been introduced inside the library. If I run out of renewals, I can use the computer to check the book in and take it out again, provided that nobody else has requested it. I can also pick up a book that I reserved from the reservation shelf and automatically check it out along with other books.

I kind of miss the interaction with a librarian. There is something unnerving about having everything automated. At some future date there will probably be robots that reshelve books. Does anyone else feel uneasy about this or is it just me? I would be particularly interested in the opinion of our resident librarian.

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19 Answers

Dutchess_III's avatar

I loved the library as a kid. It was our version of Facebook. No telling who you’d run into.
I would not like an automated library.

Demosthenes's avatar

I’m just glad that with the rise eBooks there are libraries at all. I know some day they will be a thing of the past, although I do imagine humans will have a reverence for ancient texts for a long time to come.

As someone who has previously worked in a library, I appreciated a lot of the automation, but at the same time, I often found myself sitting at the circulation desk reading a magazine because I had little else to do. Once a while I’d actually get into a discussion about literature with someone, which was the best, but much of the work felt impersonal. I’ve never been an actual librarian, but I did see the reference librarian and children’s librarian helping people frequently (especially the latter), even if the circulation aspect of the library was largely automated.

JLeslie's avatar

I like a human being to help me at the library.

I think it’s great to be able to renew online with the option to do it anywhere whether it be at home or using a library computer, but if I go to the library I want some librarians, or anyone who knows what they are doing, to be available.

I still go to the library, and I like being greeted by the staff.

stanleybmanly's avatar

We must bow to the inevitable. I’m more terrified at the creeping idea that books themselves are taking on the aura of hitching posts.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

I’m hopefull. I can download books online through my local library.

janbb's avatar

I’m sad to see automation in many aspects of our daily lives. I am particularly saddened by the closing of my local bank branch that I could walk to and where all the tellers “knew my name.” I had the most pleasant time going there!

As for libraries, I agree about enjoying the online functions of reserving and renewing but also prefer to be served by a real live clerk when I go to the library. My current county library does not have automated check outs yet but the library in the town where we formerly had a vacation condo did. I am pretty much against most things that inhibit human contact and certainly would hate to see library jobs eliminated even if there are still positions for the professional librarians who are usually not the ones on the circ desk.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

More percent of the budget going from administration hopefully going to books and online resources. Also more time for one on one assistance from the librarian.

Zaku's avatar

I think it’s neither real efficiency nor improvement when technological developments mean organizations choose to remove something valuable and appreciated, such as nice libraries, physical books, or human librarians.

MrGrimm888's avatar

I don’t see why it can’t be handled like a Red Box…

Zaku's avatar

@MrGrimm888 “I don’t see why it can’t be handled like a Red Box…”
– Who needs more than one bookshelf?

flutherother's avatar

It’s great being able to check the library catalogue from home, reserve a book and then receive an email when it is ready for collection but I want the library to be staffed and I want the book to be given to me in person and I want to be able to speak with the person who gives it to me.

Zaku's avatar

@flutherother I agree. It also seems to still be the case in all the libraries I’ve used lately.

MrGrimm888's avatar

@Zaku . I meant that it could be like a RedBox, on a much larger scale.

I read an article once, years ago, that hypothesized that libraries could be replaced with printing kiosks. As most books are already downloaded online, a person could walk up to a kiosk, find the book they want, and the kiosk would print it out right there, instead of having to have a physical copy of each book.
Used books could be recycled.

Zaku's avatar

@MrGrimm888 Oh, interesting. Of course there are some things akin to that – “print on demand”, people using home printers to print books posted on the Internet, and even some libraries who will send you copies of texts.

Seems to me like the sort of thing that makes sense as a complement to libraries more than a complete replacement for them. Printed books could be recycled by sending them to others who want the same thing, by using cross-library matching.

MrGrimm888's avatar

Well. There is a finite amount of space on this planet. We’re going to eventually have to downsize some things. While I can enjoy a nice big library, I think a kiosk would get the job done.

Zaku's avatar

Running out of space due to too many libraries (?) seems to me like it’s way down there on the list of the world’s concerns…

MrGrimm888's avatar

@Zaku . I deliberately used the word “eventually.” If the sea level rises a couple of feet, in the next 50–100 years, almost everything that takes up space will need to be evaluated for efficiency of land use. It’s not so fantastic as you make it out to be…

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