I can't remember a time when I didn't borrow books from my local library. As a child I read voraciously often consuming a book in a day. Nowadays I can't pretend that I read quite as much but I still use and support the library service as well as purchasing books to read and keep. As a general rule the books which I purchase tend to be biographies and history books whilst the borrowed books are for the most part novels.
On Wednesday of this week I entered the portals of a nearby library. It was the same but there was also something slightly different about the layout. It threw me slightly, this change in the well known.
The counter where books have been stamped out and returned for some fifty years had disappeared. In its place there were several computer terminals where students were working on course work and or checking up on their social networks. I looked around me trying to locate an assistant to whom I could entrust my, "returns." It was then I espied a low desk with a female librarian seated at it. A sign informed me that this was, "customer service."
I enquired where I should leave the books which I wished to return and was informed that a new self service computerised system had been introduced. I was then taken across to a large scanning machine and tutored in its use. When returning books I merely had to put them on the scanning plate one at a time and I would be told on a screen into which return box I should place the book. As for books I wished to take out I had to first of all scan my library card and then submit the books for scanning, again one at a time. I had the option to print a receipt for each book I took out and this was recommended to me as the books would no longer be stamped out.
I do think that with books no longer being stamped out with their return date that there will be more, "over dues." This scanning malarkey will also I believe put some elderly borrowers off using the library and of course many people will miss the social interaction with the librarians that this brave new library world will inexorably do away with.