Saturday, January 16, 2016

Another Day At The Desk...

I'm a little late with this installment of "Today At The Desk" because I've been busy researching the MLS program I'm considering applying to and started getting things together for my application.  This week's shift at the desk was pretty typical, very slow for the first couple of hours, and really busy at the end once the kids were out of school.  But, today I had a number of questions and situations beyond the routine checkout assistance, answering basic questions, and locating materials.

I had one patron looking for the 3rd book of a particular series, but we only had numbers 4, 5, & 6 on the shelf.  No problem, I thought, we'll just request it from another branch.  But, to my surprise, when I checked the catalog we did not even own a single copy of the third book in the whole system!  We owned several copies of 1, 2, 4, 5, & 6, but no 3's at all, which seemed rather strange.  The patron took the books we did have and I told her I would be sure to let the manager know we needed to get some copies of the third book.

Then, before I could even finish writing an e-mail to the Youth Services Manager about missing that book of a series, I had another patron ask about a different series.  We had books 1 through 6, but not 7 or 8, and she wanted to know if we would be getting them.  I checked the catalog, and they were not listed at all, which usually indicates it has not been ordered.  I tried to call my manager to double check, but she wasn't in.  So I had to tell the patron that it didn't look like we had ordered them yet, but that I would be sure to recommend that we do and let management know patrons were asking for them.  We were able to find a different book and request another book she was interested in from another branch, but the poor girl was so disappointed to be leaving with only 1 book I really felt bad for her.

So I quickly sent an e-mail to both my department head and the Youth Services Manager of the whole system about both the series that we were missing a book and the incomplete series, and soon got a response that she had just ordered the latter two books a few days ago, but that it hadn't gotten all the way through our bureaucracy yet which was why they were not yet showing in the catalog.  I wanted to let my disappointed patron know, but they had already left, and had used self-check for the one book they checked out.  Then I remembered I had placed a request for them, so I was able to backtrack through the system to get her name and phone number and called to let them know that the books she wanted so badly were in the process of being ordered and would hopefully be here in 2 or 3 weeks.  I was so glad to be able to give her good news!

After that I had kind of a strange situation with a patron that came to the desk because her account was blocked.  As it turns out, she had a number of issues with both her card and her child's card.  She had a number of overdue books that had not been returned, which is why the self-check wouldn't let her check out.  She said she had just returned them, so we called down to circulation and asked them to please check the books she had just returned in so she could check out more.  But then, once they were checked in and all the overdue fines were assessed, both accounts were now blocked due to the fines.  She paid the fines for her son's card and was then able to check out.  I noticed there were still a couple of items on each account that had not been returned and were overdue, so I brought those to her attention. 

Here's the strange part.  She says she has them and that she had overlooked them before because her son must have peeled the bar codes off, and hands me two books.  I checked her account and she did have those titles checked out, but neither book she gave me had any library markings on them whatsoever, or any indication that they ever had.  I thought I had misunderstood and asked if she meant she had purchased those to replace books that had been lost or damaged (which we allow as long as it is the same edition and like new condition), but she said "no".  So I was a bit confused as to what was going on and asked my manager to step in and confirm that these were not our books and rule whether to accept them or not, and she confirmed they were not and gave them back to the patron.  So I renewed the items on her account so they would not continue to accrue more fines and give her more time to find them. 

Of course in addition to all that were all the routine questions and tasks, like straightening up, filling displays, withdrawing weeds, and pulling the request list.  I also had a brief chat with our executive director and it turns out we have somewhat similar backgrounds, both having biology degrees and starting out doing lab work in microbiology before taking time out to have kids and then getting into the library field.  It's not often I run into someone else with a science background at work, so I thought that was kind of neat. 

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