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rans6andrew
26th Sep 2016, 19:59
Some three weeks ago we stopped by our library to grab a book I wanted to read. My partner came in with me and found herself a book but when she got to the desk found that she didn't have her library ticket with her so we booked her book onto my ticket.

The books were due back last friday. I had finished reading mine last monday and had returned it but, predictably, she had barely started her book and has incurred a small fine. She tried to renew on line but this isn't allowed once a fine has been applied so I said she would need to go into the library and check the book in, pay the fine before it gets bigger and then re-borrow on her own ticket.

She tried to do just that. The "system" let her book the overdue book back in, OK. It even let her book the book out on her own ticket, Hurrah. Then the barking rules took over. The system would not let her pay the fine because, wait for it, "she didn't have my library card with her". Now, this is correct because another of the library rules states that you are not allowed to let anyone not named on the card use it!

How daft is that lot?

ExXB
26th Sep 2016, 20:13
OK, let's just do away with rules. Who needs them anyway?

Gertrude the Wombat
26th Sep 2016, 20:32
How daft is that lot?Well, you could tell your councillor to sort it out.

They'd come back a couple of weeks later and say "officers tell me it'd cost 50k to change the software, and there's no budget for that".

VP959
26th Sep 2016, 21:23
One problem seems to be that the specification for systems is rarely written well enough to allow the final system to meet the users requirements.

I used to use our local library every week, until they removed the desk staff and introduced a "streamlined" automatic check in/check out system. Sadly it takes far too long to check a library book in or out with the system, plus it falls over with monotonous regularity. The net result is that I stopped using the library around 3 years ago, bought an ebook reader and now get books to read online.

I note that the local library has recently been advocating "use it or lose it", as they are under threat of closure. Had they not spent many hundreds of thousands of pounds on an automated system that is too awkward and slow for people to be bothered to use I rather think they would not be in their present dire straits.

Nervous SLF
27th Sep 2016, 00:29
Our old library had a d.i.y. checkout but I never used it I always went to the desk where they
had helpful staff. However to return a book you just put it into a letterbox sized slot where a
bar code reader was connected to the computer and the book was instantly removed from my
borrowed list.
They also had a drive through section where the lazy lot could deposit their books but this didn't
have access to a card reader so the books were only removed from your list when library staff
emptied the large locked container and put them through the usual return slot. This normal slot
was open 24/7.
Our new library has an e-book system but kindle is the one reader system that can't be used :rolleyes:

VP959
27th Sep 2016, 08:49
The main problem with some of the self-service automated check-out systems seems to be that the designers simply haven't understood the customers needs. The library system is so slow and cumbersome that it takes a lot longer than it used to when there were staff at a desk.

It seems that the local newsagent has made exactly the same error. They've installed a bank of "fast" self-service check outs and payment stations, but they are so slow and ineffective that they have had to station members of staff next to them to help people use them. Even then it's far quicker to queue and use the one remaining person behind a till.

The one system that does work very well seems to be the self-service checkouts in Waitrose. They are very fast and easy to use, so much so that I always use them. The difference is that Waitrose seem to have not only refined the software in the light of experience (there were some minor issues with them originally) but the designers of the system realised that customers wanted something simple and fast to use.

If our library system was half as fast and user-friendly as the Waitrose system then I'd have probably put up with it, but it was so slow and cumbersome that people would often be queued up out the door, whilst each struggled to get the thing to read their card and then scan each book out or in.

PDR1
27th Sep 2016, 10:33
Some three weeks ago we stopped by our library to grab a book I wanted to read. My partner came in with me and found herself a book but when she got to the desk found that she didn't have her library ticket with her so we booked her book onto my ticket.

The books were due back last friday. I had finished reading mine last monday and had returned it but, predictably, she had barely started her book and has incurred a small fine. She tried to renew on line but this isn't allowed once a fine has been applied so I said she would need to go into the library and check the book in, pay the fine before it gets bigger and then re-borrow on her own ticket.

She tried to do just that. The "system" let her book the overdue book back in, OK. It even let her book the book out on her own ticket, Hurrah. Then the barking rules took over. The system would not let her pay the fine because, wait for it, "she didn't have my library card with her". Now, this is correct because another of the library rules states that you are not allowed to let anyone not named on the card use it!

How daft is that lot?

The thing is that she didn't borrow the book - you did. The moment you borrowed the book against your card you became 100% responsible for the consequences, so it's not her fine to pay. You circumvented the (sensible, reasonable) rules when you let her use your card in contravention of the terms and conditions of the membership. The IT system and its rules would simply reflect the membership rules they were given to implement.

Why don't they have flexibility? well if the rules *allowed* sharing of membership cards the library could be on dubious ground trying to recover the costs of a damaged or non-returned book if you showed that you had done everything within your personal control to prevent it.

Go to the library, 'fess up, apologise and accept that next time if he/she don't have their own card they don't get a book.

Seemples.

PDR

Sallyann1234
27th Sep 2016, 12:23
One problem seems to be that the specification for systems is rarely written well enough to allow the final system to meet the users requirements.

Which means they have to come back to the supplier for more work :ok::D

rans6andrew
27th Sep 2016, 12:36
PDR1, I am not questioning the responsibility for the care and return of the book, what I can't understand is why it is necessary to present MY library membership card to pay a fine!

As long as it gets paid, how can it matter who puts the money on the counter?

Gertrude the Wombat
27th Sep 2016, 12:41
Why don't they have flexibility?
'Cos they have failed to analyse the requirements. It's been bog standard for decades in UK libraries that a family checks out a pile of books against a handful of library cards, with nobody caring which book on which card was going to be read by which member(s) of the family. Any software system that can't cope with that, and with the books being returned in dribs and drabs by random members of the family who don't have any of the cards with them, is simply broken.

Sallyann1234
27th Sep 2016, 13:34
Not "broken". It's presumably doing what it was designed to do.

It's just not designed for purpose.

PDR1
27th Sep 2016, 14:09
PDR1, I am not questioning the responsibility for the care and return of the book, what I can't understand is why it is necessary to present MY library membership card to pay a fine!

As long as it gets paid, how can it matter who puts the money on the counter?

Probably because the system records the transgression against the name on the ticket - most libraries will cancel membership if you make a habit of returning books late or damaging them. As such there is a data protection act obligation to ensure that this record is only generated through the formal and personal acceptance of responsibility by the accused member. The easiest way of ensuring that is to demand the relevant library card.

PDR

axefurabz
27th Sep 2016, 21:43
Gertrude, this is off topic but what is going on with your avatar? It has been less visible (i.e. no picture) over recent weeks and had completely disappeared (i.e. blank space) when I saw your first post above. By the time I reached your second post, the frame had reappeared. (But still no picture.)

Is it a budget issue?

Gertrude the Wombat
27th Sep 2016, 23:00
Gertrude, this is off topic but what is going on with your avatar? It has been less visible (i.e. no picture) over recent weeks and had completely disappeared (i.e. blank space) when I saw your first post above. By the time I reached your second post, the frame had reappeared. (But still no picture.)

Is it a budget issue?Well, it's sort of a historical budget issue.


It was using a fair amount of bandwidth, and I needed all I was paying for for the main customers of my web site. So my PPRuNe avatar got moved to some free web space somewhere.


However it has been some years since I switched ISPs to one who doesn't have a problem with my web site's bandwidth usage, so I could host the avatar in a sensible place.


I don't remember where the free hosting was - I didn't have anything else there AFAICR. One of these months I may get round to repointing PPRuNe at my own web space. I could at the same time change it to a floatplane I've actually flown, now :-)

radeng
27th Sep 2016, 23:48
Just remember two things:

1. To err is human. To really foul things up requires a computer.

2. Women are given a computer for one reason. They then have something more aggravating and irritating than a man.