Library musings

I’ve been using the San Francisco library for 84 months, checking out an average of 4 books per month. For the first time, they’ve reported a book lost that I returned. That’s a 0.3% failure rate, which isn’t terrible, but with a computerized system, the error rate should be much less.
I love the San Francisco library system– it has served me well over the years. You can search for books and have them delivered to your local branch, renew books online, and reserve popular books and watch as you get progressively closer to the front of the line (I’m 79 out of 132 waiting for Special Topics in Calamity Physics).
That said, I have to complain. First, because they lost a book I returned along with 2 others that were successfully returned. And second, compared to how an Amazon or Netflix works , SFPL lags far behind in internet years.
* Where are the fancy algorithms that classify me as a happy patron unlikely to rip them off?
* Where is the ability to change my “Home” branch? When making a reserve request, Potrero Hill is my default branch, which was great when I lived on the Hill. Now I want to change it to the 7-day a week workingman’s branch in the Mission. How did they figure out I was a Potrero girl in the first place? Will the algorithm finally switch me over to the Mission branch someday? I wait with bated breath.
* Where can I update my mailing address?
* Give me that RSS feed! The library is a mecca for feeds– new books, new DVDs, what’s new at the ‘brary, staff picks. Set that content free with an XML feed please!
* General performance of logging into your account: Login should be a part of the global nav. Why must you go to the home page in order to login? The fact that cookies aren’t dropped to keep you in your account once you login– you have to use their specific navigation to remain “logged in”. Yuk.
* Wish list: more robust “queuing” capability. Right now you can add books and Freeze them if you don’t want them to show up at your branch, but my dream is for this to act as a Netflix-y type “Queue” where you get the first 2 books, then the next 2 are queued up for when you return the others.
In case you’re curious about what happens when a book is reported as returned when the library thinks it’s not, the book is placed on Return Claimed status for 3 months, a search for the book attempted, and you must pay or replace the book at the end of 3 months if still not found.

1 thought on “Library musings”

  1. Sigh. I went by the branch where I returned this book and found it on their shelves. I promptly returned it and saved them their “search” for it.

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