Patron Generated Check-out Lengths
While writing my last blog post I had another idea spurred by the need for an extended check out length for the business book bins. I realized (as I’m sure many of you have as well) that many different patrons read at different speeds and check out books and resources of varying degrees of length and difficulty. Not only that but, many patrons are working on research projects that might take longer than the standard the 2 weeks or 3 weeks that a library assigns to all of its books. The problem here is that we have invented one sized shoe in a world where people have different sized feet. But what if the patron could decide what sized shoe they wear? Or, what I really mean is, what if the patron could decide what length of checkout their items had?
I feel like this would be fairly simple to accomplish in many libraries. Basically when a patron checks out an item they would type in their preferred due date. They could choose however long that they figured it would take them to read the book or finish their project. Of course, I suppose some limits should be set. I wouldn’t want someone checking out a book for a hundred years or anything but I would love to see the length of time be set to something much longer than it currently is.
It seems like this would solve a lot of problems. In this system, since the patrons pre-determined their own due date they could remember it better and not have that argument at the counter about not remembering when their books were due. They would also be able to have the item for the length of time that they need it and they couldn’t complain about not having enough time to finish it or their project. It would also mean that when there are holds on the item (thus negating the option for renewals) the patrons could still have the time to do what they need to do.
In contrast to a no fines system
One of the other solutions is a no-fine system. Well, yeah right! Try to get that to fly with budgets being so tight and cities thinking that library fines are a money making system to supplement their new crosswalk project. I think that no-fine systems are good for a number of reasons, but in real-life I have seen some problems arise that I won’t take the time to outline here. So, I would think that we could still issue daily overdue fines and fees as a way to get materials returned, but patrons would have more power over their charges and I’m always for power to the people.
The Big Problem
The most glaring obvious problem here is the circulation software. This option is definitely not set-up in the software for patrons so I doubt this idea has any real legs to run on. Maybe some of you out there can get someone to try it out at your library? I don’t know, that’s a vendor fight that we would never win, but if anyone wants to take it on, be my guest.
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