Sunday, July 14, 2013

Share and Share Alike

This week the topic of special lending rules for popular titles came up at my library. We are part of a consortium, a grouping of many libraries that join together to offer their holdings to other member libraries. It's a terrific way of expanding what you can offer your patrons without additional expense, but sometimes it presents a problem.

The problem for our library was what to do when books we own are in high demand. Should we restrict them? After all, we must first serve the people that live in our public library's jurisdiction, right? We can modify lending rules so that those titles are only lent to our community members and many libraries do this, so why not us?

I voted for only modifying lending rules for one copy of the books in question so that we could satisfy our obligation to provide materials for our patrons while at the same time, fulfilling our duty to the consortium.

I believe in sharing. I think that at this time in the life of public libraries, it is the right thing to do. There is an impulse to "batten down the hatches," and "circle the wagons" in a climate of fear and libraries are fearful for their future. But if they are going to have a future, I believe it is by fighting this impulse and doing just the opposite. It is better to go for a group gestalt than to twist in the wind.

In the end, we managed to satisfy both our customer service obligations on both the micro and macro levels.

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