If you see me
This is a self-check machine that is being testing at the Main Library. This machine is at the circulation desk. It sits in the middle of the desk and each time I walk by, people standing in line waiting for a staff member to check them out, but no one is using the self-check.
On the other hand, people love the two 3M self-check machines located just down the Great Hall between the General Reference desk and the circ desk. No one is there assisting (I don’t think) but that is where independent patrons go. They were being used heavily yesterday when I went to show patrons our new registration kiosk.
Showing the registration kiosk was quite interesting. The people who came to use it were directed to go there, all except one. They were all able to follow the instructions. It’s as easy as filling out a web form. Everyone seemed to know exactly how to do it. I noticed most of the people who did knew that they can use the tab key to move to the next field, or to click the mouse. (Vi has written the program so even if they use the down arrow or the enter key it will still move down to the next field.) Also, it’s interesting how many people, especially kids, automatically begin to type in the area code of their phone number. I remember a time when people didn’t even know their area code. This tells me people use computers a lot and are used to filling in forms.
I did see that a lot of people don’t bother to capitalize their name (not a surprise). I also witnessed the teenager of the family stepping up to fill in the registration form (“I like computers,” she said). I encountered one person who may have been functionally illiterate (or just a really really bad speller) and this could pose a problem in the future.
The registrations printed out at the circulation desk staff printer and patrons then walked over to sign the form and finish their registration there. The data the patrons entered did not go into any database; it just printed out. But this saved staff the trouble of filling out the form. I am really interested in knowing if circ staff found this process helpful or if it saved them time. Also, can circ staff deal with misspellings, etc? We can expect a lot of that, but circ staff are the ones who are typing the information into our database so they can edit it as they enter it.
There was also a situation where a young patron couldn’t check out his book at self-check because his barcode was damaged. He was able to step 12 inches to his right, fill out the registration for a replacement card, and then get a new card at the desk. However, he had to check his books out there because the self-check machine did not allow him to type in his number. We are currently starting to think how we will have to change the way we do things so that each patron doesn’t run into an exception which prevents him from using self-check. We need to really think differently and be open to doing things differently to make self-check and self-registration possible.