Monday, September 17, 2007

Hello, Columbus

Library Lines come to you this week from Columbus, OH, where I have had the opportunity to visit the main branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML), one of the most-used library systems in the country. Here are a few interesting things I observed.

<>CML uses a self-serve circulation model for almost all transactions, allowing patrons to check out their own items and even pick up reserves, without waiting for staff assistance. The traditional circulation desk is lined with self-check stations facing the public, but there is plenty of staff right at hand, where they are working on other tasks when not needed to help resolve issues of overdue or lost books or new card registrations.

<>“All adults must be accompanied by a child” reads the sign at the entrance to a special area in the children’s library outfitted with colorful, small-scale furnishings, toys, “games computers,” and picture books for the pre-school set and their parents. <>

The adult non-fiction collection does not run in straight sequential order by Dewey Decimal number. Instead, it is broken up into thematic groupings, such as “Fine Arts and Humanities” and “Genealogy, History and Travel.” In the fiction stacks, the alphabetical sequence is indicated by signs featuring pictures and quotations from authors whose last name situates their books in that row. <>

Self-contained computer “pods” on wheels allow reference librarians to move to high traffic areas as needed, concentrating service in the teen area after school or in the large print section when the senior van arrives. <>

A large lobby features not only a gift and used book store run by the Friends but also a coffee stand and even an ATM. <>

Not everything I saw at Columbus would be appropriate or desirable at the Ridgefield Library, and thankfully we have no need of the “No Weapons” signs displayed at their entrance. But I did gather some interesting food for thought.

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