Evaporating Book SyndromeChurch librarians work to find a balance between getting the material into the hands of users and protecting valuable resources.
A nice, encouraging post by Lois Tverberg at Our Rabbi Jesus reminds librarians and library users about the consequences of taking, but not checking-out, books. The consequence is evaporating book syndrome - when library resources seem to vanish into thin air.
In a conversation with her church librarian, Lois notes that:
Having overdue books isn’t a big deal. The main problem is people who borrow books but don’t even check them out, even when there is an easy self-serve system...
I just want to encourage everyone to do others a favor by recording when you borrow a book. And today, how about looking through your stacks and making a little pile of things that will go back with you this next weekend? The book that is gathering cobwebs under your couch may be just what the next person needs.
(Read all)Lois encourages forwarding her blog post "on to anyone who needs a hint." Perhaps your congregation, including the staff, need a gentle reminder on how to properly borrow material from your library.
Time to review:Have you posted plain and simple instructions on how to borrow from your library after hours?
Even if you have computer-based circulation you may need to provide a way to collect the necessary data to be entered into the computer later. And even if your library is locked, church staff may be getting access to borrow things they need. Make sure those instructions are prominently displayed.
Have you tested those instructions with "real" people?- not you and your library staff. (OK they are real people too...) Make sure there are pencils and paper and even pictures to show what you want after-hours borrowers to do. Provide a secure place for them to leave the information you want from them too.
Do your users know how to return material? You probably don't want library patrons to re-shelve material so make sure they can find a secure place to return library items.
Are your resources well-labelled? At the library where I work, patrons sometimes mix in church library books with books for the university library. Serving a vast geographical area, we may not know where "Grace Chapel" is or which "First Church" is the owner. And when we get a book with a nice spine label, and card pocket but no ownership label we can only hope that the user will retrace his steps and find the misdirected title.
What do you do to balance easy access and resource protection?
Here's one church's solution