Posts Tagged ‘Austin Public Library’

North Village library branch: light on books

The North Village branch still feels brand-new, as though it opened only yesterday. It is on Steck, but seems very quiet and peaceful despite all that, so that any performance on the little outdoor stage depicted in the accompanying collage probably will not be drowned out by passing traffic.

Areas seem to be better arranged than they are at the even newer Twin Oaks branch, so that there’s no constant apologizing for stumbling over or backing into other patrons, as there is at TO. The natural light everywhere indoors illuminates without glare. The acoustics are not noticeably reverberant and there seems to be ample damping down any possible echo effect.

The staff is very pleasant, and the ergonomics of the areas set aside for the library’s own desktop computers and for patrons’ carry-ins were excellent. Ample outlets are available at convenient heights for all. There’s a sort of wheelbarrow by the door, used as a magazine exchange.

Restrooms are for men, women, and “family.” More sinks would have been useful and a patrol, also, to pick up litter scattered around. This library has a good-sized children’s area and also seems to offer a selection of Korean movies on DVD.

Although the City bills North Village as a “library of the future,” a bit more of the past, in the form of more books, would be an improvement. Every branch of the Austin Public Library is different, and we try to visit them all. This is our first inspection of the newest version of North Village. It’s a fine building and conveys an air of conviviality and spaciousness. Three bus lines serve this location.

Outsourcing to the customer

policy changes at the libraryOr perhaps, since it’s the library we’re talking about, we should say “outsourcing to the patron.” At any rate, ever since the central library reopened, the number of clerks has been cut and the number of do-it-yourself stations has been increased.

Under the new set-up, Austinites must check out their own DVDs and CDs within a sort of corral and using a patron-operated scanner that doesn’t work with the older cards. Today, we saw several people scampering out of the enclosure and over to the checkout desk that has real people; they did this because their cards, like mine, are useless with the new scanners.

Another change instituted between the time the Faulk library closed and the time it reopened, in addition to the security cameras everywhere, was the end of having clerks bring reserved or on-hold items to the checkout desk.

They’ve been placed in a bookcase that has only one shelf at a convenient level. The person who placed the hold is required to pull the item from the shelf. The lower the shelf, the more difficult it is to read the name on the slip and the more difficult it is to retrieve the item.

I’ve complained every time I’ve seen a person of age down on hands and knees at these shelves. The difficulty is especially great for those wearing skirts. Getting down is not easy; returning to an upright position is beyond the powers of some.

Today, I noticed a brand-new and very low scooting stool on casters. This is marginally better, since it eliminates knee-walking, but I still observed people needing assistance to arise. My guess is that I was not the sole complainer about these shelves.

Beginning October 1, if on-hold items are not retrieved or cancelled within ten days of notification of their availability, the patron will be assessed a one-dollar fee per item. (That’s fine if the patron receives notification that the item is there, but that is not always the case.) The other change starting on that date is that DVDs and VHS tapes may be borrowed for three weeks and not renewed.

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