For 3 years, it ran in the Greeley Tribune. Since then, it has run in various subsidiaries of the Douglas County News Press. I still have most of my columns in digital format.
For many years, I only gave myself one rule: try to work the word "library" into every piece. My intent was to think in public about just what librarianship means at the end of the 20th century and beginning of the 21st.
There have been many advantages for me. I found that putting library plans out in front of the public, and getting feedback about them, helped me make better decisions. Sometimes, I found that it was very difficult for me to describe those plans or policies -- the kind of thing that makes me realize that they might not be good ideas after all. The weekly discipline of explaining my profession to the public keeps me more mindful, more honest. It also has provided steady visibility for the library and its issues.
July 8, 1998 - Recent Computer Enhancements
We've done all of our big computer upgrades. So what's in it for you?
How about -- speed? Our machine is much faster than it used to be. That means faster searching, faster connections to other library computers.
Or how about -- dial-in renewals?
If you've got a computer and a modem, you can connect to our library computer either directly (688-1428) or through ACLIN (440-9969, 294-7260, 291-0986). Once you get to our main search screen, choose "Review patron record."
Here you'll be asked a couple of questions. First is the significant numbers of your library card. The "significant part" is anything after 2 3025 and any zeroes that immediately follow those digits. So if your number is 23025001234567, you would type 1234567.
The second question is the last four numbers of your phone number (alternatively, you can provide us with a PIN number, as for a credit card).
Assuming you've entered this information correctly (and also assuming that you HAVE a library card and phone number in our database), now you get a screen that lets you view several kinds of information: which books you have checked out, what's waiting on hold for you, and a few other extras. If you choose to review the books you have checked out, you can also renew any of them that don't have somebody waiting for them.
Another new option here is at the end of this "Review Patron Record" screen. It's called "Yearly Holds List." Ask a circulation clerk to turn on this option for you. Once activated, this lets you go back and see all of the items you have placed on hold (even the ones you've already read). This new feature of our software can be a handy way to keep track of which bestsellers you've already looked at.
While you're talking to the clerk, you might also ask them to turn on another new option: e-mail notices. Many people in Douglas County have e-mail accounts. How about getting all of your hold notices, overdue notices, etc., straight from our computer to yours? No more fumbling at the mail box or missing a phone call. Find out the very hour your book comes in!
We're working on some other options, too. The big one is web-based access to our catalog. While our patrons have always been able to log into our catalog through the Internet, this has been based on a "telnet," or non-graphical, session. The web-based version will let you navigate our catalog much as you navigate any World Wide Web page -- pointing and clicking. This will add a significant level of ease-of-use to our offerings.
Some of these new services are still in process (there are still a few kinks in the e-mail notices, and the web-based catalog needs a little tweaking, too). But most of them should be up and running by the time this column sees print.
And with these changes mostly behind us now, it's time to back to the core of our work: connecting people and books.
See you at the library, real or virtual.