...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

I am SO not imagining this
Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Read/Post Comments (1)
Share on Facebook
It's not that I'm paranoid, exactly but um, well, see what you think.

Some months ago, there was a budget battle in the city of Seattle when the head librarian decided to recommend that the library stop funding "Mobile Services". This department which has been around for a very long time, not only provides the library's bookmobile, but makes home delivery of library materials to housebound folks, "shut-ins" and, well, people like me, who have a hard time getting around, who have limited mobility and for whom getting to a library to return books on time can be a hardship. For several years, the library mailed me books which I read and mailed right back in the same bag. Nowadays (as they did today) they arrive at my house once a month with a box (or sometimes two, or three - ahhhh) and take away the other stuff. It's a fantastic program and it's helped keep me sane for over 10 years; and I don't think that's an exaggeration. (today's box, for example, included NIGHTCRAWLERS by Bill Pronzini, books by Matt Ruff and Charles Stross and Gene Wilder's memoir.

When word got out that the program was to be cancelled, there was a major storm. I hadn't been aware just how many people were served by the bookmobiles alone, but dozens and dozens of nursing homes, and care facilities and child care programs and retirement homes were visited every month by Mobile Services staff. It was, as someone said, our branch library; it just happened to be on wheels.

I haven't lobbied a city council member in a very long time, but I dragged down to city hall to talk with the 2 council members willing to meet with me and emailed another. I wrote to the head of the library board, even though that wasn't easy to do; all communication seems to be funneled through the library. I wrote to a couple columnists who seemed likely targets for articles about the program. I asked friends to write or call city hall and they did.

We won, mostly. The program was not wrecked. The city librarian, who seems to be totally impressed with herself for getting Seattle to have a "world class" (whatever the fuck that means) main library (Rem Koolhaas. Oh joy) was stopped in her desire to shut down a program that served many of the city's neediest folks. (which, given the mission statement of this library, well…). I'm pissed off at her and likely will remain so. The downtown library? It's NOT welcoming, signage sucks, the elevators are hard to find and it's sharp edges everywhere.

Okay, so the paranoia tale. If I wanted to, I could call the folks at Mobile Services and ask them to reserve stuff for me. Or I could ask them to pick stuff for me to read; as it is, since I'm computer-friendly somewhat, I use the computer and the net to do my catalogue searching and reserving. I used to telnet in; it was pretty efficient and except for the fact that I had to type my card number in over and over, it worked. Except that every so often, my "location" would move or disappear the part where, after you reserve the book it says "where do you want to pick this item up?" and you'd say "Mobile Services". Several times it just flat out disappeared. Now, that would happen to a branch when it was being remodeled of course, but Mobile Services was a permanent service.

Then they got rid of the telnet option and now I use a web-based home page. Which is tedious because we still have dial-up and I don't NEED to download the cover artwork. It still is slow, occasionally doesn’t' work at all and yeah, twice now, in recent weeks the "Mobile Services" option has completely disappeared from the "where do you want your stuff held?" list. No one seems to know why but I live the tone of email I got from the support desk people after I reported it. They said they were "aware that MOB was originally not listed and has disappeared once again." Note - wasn't listed at ALL at first, and they go on to say that the "IT department fully understands how these glitches impact the public and are very sorry that this occurred." I'm projecting but that sure sounds like they've head from more than one annoyed patron (hi!). Given that the whole idea of Mobile services is that we library users CAN'T use the computers AT the library to access the system, well, you get the idea.

So, an insidious plot or coincidence? You decide.

Read/Post Comments (1)

Previous Entry :: Next Entry

Back to Top

Powered by JournalScape © 2001-2010 All rights reserved.
All content rights reserved by the author.