TTW Mailbox: That’s not the message we want to send.

A patron came in to the library…

I like an email, from an anonymous librarian, that starts that way! Here goes:

A patron came in to the library
No library card.
Resident of our town.
No proof of residency to obtain card.
Wanted to get on the internet for “5 minutes”

Out-of State people $5.00 to get temporary internet card. Good for 30 days. (must have photo ID)
Reciprocal borrowers, $5.00 to get internet access, good for 12 months, or exp. date on home library card, whichever is soonest. (must have home library card & photo ID)

We have photo-id cards, patron fills out application, shows ID, so then Circulation has to check consortia ILS for fines, take a photo, create the card, then import into our local ILS software. Takes 10-15 min.

Patron demanded to see the written policy stating $5 fee. Signs are posted indicating the $5 fee.
Dealt with Director. No such written policy could be produced.

Patron left very angry, denied access to internet.

Director scrambles to write up a policy revision to be included for approval at the next board meeting. The revised policy included the $5 charge.

Oh no! a policy made as a reaction to 1 person, and one to make staff’s job easier-not better service for the patron.

A few days prior to the board meeting, I approached the Director and proposed an alternative.

Our time management system for the internet requires a barcode to logon, so how about “temporary internet cards” FOR FREE. (Note: we’re right on the state line, and our neighboring libraries in don’t charge non-residents to use the internet.)

We’ll be adding wi-fi soon, so part of my argument was, how can you tell someone: if you have your own laptop, you can use our internet for free, if you don’t have your own laptop (or can’t afford one), then you must pay us $5

Also, we recently found out the local hotels are at 80% capacity every night. Board president said in the meeting “Welcome to our town, Give us $5. That’s not the message we want to send.” (yes, we have a board pres who ‘gets it’)

The Board liked the proposal to make it more user friendly. Two months from the incident, the Board voted & approved the use of temporary internet cards for free.

ALL the public service desks have the temp. internet cards. Patrons don’t have to wait in line at the Circ desk, they can obtain one from whichever desk is closest. Patrons still have to sign the internet agreement & present ID to prove they are over 18, or have guardian give permission for internet use.

The first day this was implemented: a patron was able to use a temporary card. Patron’s card expired, and she had moved, but still lived in our town. Didn’t have proof of address. She was able to use the temp. card! A user from Texas was able to use a temporary card a few days later.