Do any of you allow your patrons to self check? We have a fairly small library and so far I have allowed it by having them fill out the book cards and leave them in a box until a librarian is available to enter the information, but I really want to get rid of the cards which would leave us without this "self-check" ability.
How is your rate of return/overdues?
hmmm. I'm not quite sure what that means, but I can tell you that we have quite a few overdues monthly, I would say at least 20 books, and lose about 5 books a year from people losing them, keeping them or whatever (especially from the children's section). We do not charge for overdue or lost books.
We have a binder where patrons sign out the book, title, name and date of check out. Because our library is open all the time it was the only sensible way to handle checkouts. We have only "lost" one book in the 20 years I have been librarian.
That is amazing only having lost 1 book! We lose at least 5 a year it seems. The binder is a great idea! Then I can get rid of the cards. Are you the only librarian or do you have others that "shift" work the library when it's open?
Our church uses the binder system as well but also asks for the patron's phone number.
Yes, I am the only librarian, but I can call on help if needed. I don't do overdues because I know most of the people who borrow and can speak to them or call them if the book is needed. Usually borrowers will tell if they need a book for more than four weeks.
Our library is open all of the time as the room is also used for meetings and choir practice, so it is totally self-checkout. A volunteer usually stops in after church to file cards, check in items and shelve them, but there's no one there during the week. We use cards and ask people to write their full name and phone number on the card. Even though we have "instructions" posted we still have cards with no phone numbers. Kids often write their first name and that's it. We have a fairly high number of Hispanic names so there is a lot of duplication making it hard to know exactly who checked it out. We also have people who check out but have never registered with our church so we have no way of finding them if there isn't a phone number. We have a two week checkout period and no overdue fines. Unfortunately, we have a high rate of overdues and a pretty high rate of books, etc. that are never returned. It's very frustrating.
That would be extremely, like pull my hair out, frustrating to me! I'm sorry it's like that for you. We currently have book cards and when I first started in the library people would just leave the cards or books to check in all over the desk and it was a huge mess! I got a little box to hold cards after the people signed them out and pull the rolling cart out for the returned items to be places on. That helped with the organizing but not reading the names on the cards!
Our pen holder has a place where patrons put the signed cards and I have a crate for returns so it isn't too messy at least. We do have parents who let their kids pull things off the shelves and then they put them in the crate for us to reshelve. Normally I'd think that was great, but when there are 20-30 items left for us to shelve it gets out of hand. We have to open each book or DVD to see if, in fact, it has been checked out or not so it really takes up a lot of time. I've posted friendly "invitations" for parents to reshelve any books their kids pull off the shelves, but it doesn't seem to be working.
Does anyone have a great solution to that problem? Maybe I should have started a new discussion.....
To me, and we are semi-computerized, this is why the library must be monitored even if by a teen and a helper. The library in our churches is a valuable resource, and it's amazing to me how many people take out books and do not return them on time even with minimal fines. I am fast becoming an unbeliever in self-check-out.
Oh yes, that is so frustrating!! We have a lot of little kids come in to use our library by themselves. I often think, would your parents be letting you wander around the public library by yourself pulling out all the books? I have asked some ladies at our church what they thought about getting rid of the cards and doing a binder self-checkout and that is the one thing they said, "well, what about all the kids that come in by themselves and can barely right their names?" I was thinking... they shouldn't be in there by themselves! I'm sorry I have no advice on this point. But would love to hear others opinions also.