Monday, July 20, 2009

NYC Library Screw Up; Lucy Ricardo hired to fix what ain't broken

Congratulations to New York City.

In addition to being the site of two recent much-disputed and disliked museum redesigns (the Morgan and MOMA)--two buildings which now feature dead space and a passing nod to their purpose--housing art for people to admire, study and debate--New York City has also instituted a useless system redesign for its public libraries.

The redesign was the work of computer specialists who do not use the system. I doubt they even use the library, New York City or other. Librarians, clerks and patrons are shaking their heads.

Library clerks
used to scan coded numbers on books when we checked them in or checked them out (them being the books) (neither librarians nor library clerks beep when they’re checked out). Post redesign, librarians and clerks scan the codes, but also have to search them out from an onscreen list and manually click. Why? I don’t know how many people have library cards, but out of the eight million or so residents, I figure a lot. That is a lot of extra work. Long lines have appeared where before there were often none.

It's as if Lucy and Ethel got their hands on the system.

And taxpayer money paid for this. ($7 Million from public and private funds.) New York City draws a fair chunk of tax money from our checks. Most expensive city in America, hello? And some of that went toward a useless, annoying and ill-conceived redesign. The previous system wasn’t broke.

When I search for a book, I now have to take extra steps to stipulate I want a book I can have access to, and not a book archived at the research library where scholars and students study. I went there when I was in graduate school and it cool and an honor, but not a useful first step in finding a book. For me. For most of us. And maybe this will change but Publishers Weekly and Library Journal book reviews are no longer available.

I am hoping the New York Times or Daily News take this up. Things are a mess. I have written to the Mayor and City Council every time the library’s been strapped; I do so now, but with much regret.

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