I love the library. I've been a faithful patron ever since I was a little kid. I have to confess, though, that at some point I had to switch library systems because the fines were getting out of control. Happily, those sorts of transgressions remain in the distant past.
Today I am grateful for the many different entities that sponsor libraries close to my home. Besides my own city and county libraries, I am a faithful customer of at least three neighboring county systems with varying degrees of frequency.
Libraries are my version of Cheers. They are the place where everybody knows my name. Really. Librarians at three separate branches know me and I know them. Last week, though, I was returning some books at a branch I don't usually go to and something there blew me away!
There's been a new invention that automatically returns books. Almost all the local systems have some version of it. Until last week I've only seen the mouth that accepts my borrowed materials. The nearby windows are all opaque. Except at this branch.
This branch lets you see the wizard behind the curtain. It was the coolest five minutes I've spent in a while. The librarians were laughing at how excited I was. I went back yesterday to take some photos to share. Unfortunately, I didn't bring anything to return, so I didn't get to snap any pics of the wizard in action.
This is the amazing machine. It reads the bar code on the item and some sort of rotating arm directs it to one of three bins. The one closest is for items that stay at this branch. An unseen bin on the opposite side is for items that need to be sent to other branches, and the bin on the end is for the problem children. Other library systems, items on hold, kid's books with food stains, I don't know what all.
Luckily, librarians are still needed in this new scenario, but they are doing less sorting and hopefully more interacting with the public. The fact that I am so delighted with this glimpse of the inner workings of my local library is what makes me a geek.
Don't even get me started on how absolutely sensational Carnegie libraries are!