Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Borrowing Books

Back to books. I am attempting to borrow this month's book group choice, Master and Margarita from the local library. You can check to see if the library holds it online.

A new page pops up. It informs me that I am searching in the London Consortium catalogue which comprises Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge, Waltham Forest and the other north London borough of...Wandsworth (ok, just in case you don't know London it's very definitely south of the river).

I start ranting. The page doesn't tell me if I can actually borrow something from another borough. It's all very well and good being able to browse but that doesn't really help me in the long term. (It is at this juncture that I should point out I don't actually want to borrow the book. I want to buy it. Things going wrong are making me happy).

Author search: BULGAKOV

Bulgakov, Mikhail or Bulgakov, Valentin Federovich?

I click on the former. The first entry reads: Six Soviet Plays, ed. By Eugene Lyons. Author: AFINOGENYEV, Alexander.

Hello? I'm getting angrier and happier by the minute.

I locate the book and guess what? Most of the copies are held in Tooting, Putney and other South London libraries. There are none in Barking and Dagenham (quelle surprise).

Rubbing my hands with glee I decide there is only one way to find out if I can have an out of borough book and that is to try to reserve it.

I enter my library card number and my pin. I get an error message. I try again. Three times. The number is in front of me and the pin is always the last four digits of your phone number.
I am now getting delightfully frustrated. I email the library asking why I can't log on to the new system and to see if I can borrow the book and collect it from my local branch. I expect an answer sometime in 2010.

30 minutes later Mr Librarian explains that yes, I can borrow any book listed and collect it from where I choose, and that the pin is now randomly generated by a computer system – ask any librarian.

Any librarian? The one at my school? Doug in the States? I click on opening times. 7pm every weekday've guessed it...Wednesday! Shuts at 5pm and it's now 4.30pm. I ring expecting them to say you cannot have it over the telephone. No such luck. After taking my details and seemingly endless tipp-tapping on a keyboard, I get my new pin.

I sulked in the bath. This plan was coming together. I wouldn't be able to buy the book.

With a heavy heart I tried once more to log on with the new pin and HURRAH! It doesn't work and it's too late to tell anyone. Hee hee.


Shep said...

Do you want I should send you one? We do, of course, have one instore. Is this just the beginning of an Amazon wishlist type thingy...?

I still have feuds with my library, knowing they're paid more than me and yet can't get any Martin Amis on the shelves. Wankers.

ems said...

I am now determined not to be beaten by The System. I'm off to sort them out this morning. It's a good thing I have nearly 4 weeks until we discuss the book - it'll probably take that long to arrive from Tooting.

ps. thanks for the offer!

coolbuddha said...

Let us know what you think of the book. I read the first few pages and couldn't really get into it. Would be good to know whether it is worth sticking with (yep, call me lazy).

Doug said...

Well, you COULD have called me but I am not sure I could have done anything! See what happens when they take away our card catalogue and move us to computers! And they are supposed to be more efficient. Usually we just call the branch that owns the book directly and get them to ship it over. I hope you are having better luck with them today!

Chris (Doug's Partner) said...

Doug told me about this *really* goofy system his library now uses for lending books. In the olden days, the circulation agent would just stamp the due-back date on the back of the book. No fuss no muss. Now the circulation agent has to print a little thermal receipt that shows the due-back date. The client, of course, loses the slip and the book is returned late!