Feedback needed to shape Library’s future

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The Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) wants to hear from you as library leaders make plans for the future. If you have ideas about how the public library can better serve you in 2010 and beyond, please attend one of several public focus groups that will be held at library locations throughout the county. The valuable information gathered from the public focus groups will be used to guide the library’s planning process for the next three to five years. The discussions will be facilitated by Susan Harden, Crossroads Charlotte Coordinator for UNC Charlotte. David Singleton, Director of Library Experiences for PLCMC, is coordinating the planning process for the library system.

Unable to attend a session? Please feel free to leave comments and suggestions here.

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12 Responses to “Feedback needed to shape Library’s future”

  1. Craig Says:

    Please make parking available to patrons who frequent Main Library! There are things I would like to attend like computer classes and alot of times I don’t have the dough to come uptown. Also please get the crowd of thugs away from the entrance, they scare me and my family.

  2. MCW Says:

    I am glad PLCMC started this blog, and hope this isn’t the only post you’ll make. More often than not, that is what happens.

    I don’t have many bad things to say about PLCMC. I’ve been pretty pleased with the changes that have been made as long as I have owned a Library card (10+- Years). Mostly, I have been impressed by the implementation of the “Self-Checkout”. I don’t know if it is fully implemented at all of the PLCMC libraries or not yet, but if it isn’t, it needs to be.

    The stigma of the library, as people see it, is the old woman stamping books at a snail’s pace while giving you the stink eye and saying “These are due back in a month” in her gravely voice. Well, at least that is the way it used to be, and with the self checkout, you “mostly” don’t have to deal with that anymore. It could be improved by letting it be fully self-checkout (ie, not requiring the attendants to pass your items around a security scanner – they are often busy with other people, and thus you have to wait for them to get through with whatever they are doing just to pass your books around).

    Next, the online catalog for PLCMC is something I use frequently, and try to appreciate. However, I find it to need an overhaul. Simple things like Opening catalog items in new tabs (Sure, “Tabs” are a newer feature to web browsers, but they are quickly becoming essential) aren’t allowed. Also, I’ve reported the frequent errors during searches that have multiple pages many times, but received no response, and the errors have not improved much. I’m all about customization, and think you should give your cardholders the ability to setup their catalog browsing the way they want it.

    The last thing that bothers me is the out-of-county restrictions PLCMC imposes. Just because someone lives 1 mile outside of a Mecklenburg county line, they should not be forced to pay a yearly fee to use PLCMC. People can work in Mecklenburg county and live outside of it. It’s an unfair restriction, and I think you should allow people who show proof of labor in Mecklenburg county to have a fully UN-restricted library card with no yearly fee. The happier you make card owners, the more likely they are to give to the library.

    As far as what is good about the library, it would have to be the “Mostly” friendly librarians, the selection and ability to send items to more convenient library locations, the self-checkouts, after hours drop boxes, and the appearance and cleanliness of PLCMC locations.

    I will keep a close eye on this page, and look forward to future posts from PLCMC. I’m here to help, as long as you’ll listen to my feedback.

  3. MCW Says:

    I thought of one more thing that should be addressed. Perhaps the library could make magazines available for rental. I understand there is probably concerns about them being torn and ruined… but wouldn’t the same concerns exist for paperback books?

    I would be thoroughly pleased if PLCMC offered all of the magazine collection for rental. It is the one thing that has never made sense to me, why they aren’t.

  4. Libby Says:

    MCW, from my understanding..and someone please correct me if I’m wrong… Main Library is the only location that doesn’t rent out their magazines..that and the smaller library uptown. I’ve been to the University City library and been able to check out the magazines there.

  5. Chris at the Library Says:

    MCW, thanks for your feedback. All PLCMC locations lend magazines at no charge except for the Main Library. Our reasoning is that the Main Library is the location that would be able to provide a magazine even if it were not available elsewhere. Each location other than Main lends back issues of magazines, retaining the current issue for browsing in the library only until the next issue arrives. The number of issues retained at each location varies based on space and the condition of back issues. Please let me know via the blog if there is a particular magazine you are interested in. If we do not currently subscribe, I can share your suggestion with the manager of the library location you prefer for us to note for future subscription planning.

  6. Lucy at the library Says:

    In response to the out of county restrictions post, it has to do with whether or not you pay taxes in Mecklenburg County. The taxes Meck County residents pay, pays for the library. If you live in another county, you are paying for your library in that county. Even if you work in Mecklenburg County, and live in another county, you may be paying taxes to Meck County, but you are not paying property tax. If you own property in Meck County, then you get a free card. It doesn’t seem fair to Meck County residents who pay for their library through their taxes, to let residents from other counties use their library for free. It would be the same if a Mecklenburg county resident wanted to use, say, a York County library. They would also get charged a fee. I hope this helps MCW’s confusion on this issue.

  7. MCW Says:

    OK, so you say I can rent back issues out? That must have been my mistake. I picked up an issue of Gamepro at the Cornelius branch, and it said (Do not Circulate) on a label on it. So I assumed that that meant “Do Not Circulate” any magazines. But it was the newest issue, so I guess that is why it was not in circulation.

    That is definitely good to know, thanks for the response, because I would have assumed you could not rent them.

    As far as particulars, I would have to take a better look at what you have, because I don’t think you are allowed to search for magazine titles in the online PLCMC catalog. Mainly, I’m a Gamepro (And video games in general) kind of guy, so I would be interested in that – which you already carry. Also, PSM (Official PlayStation Magazine), Game Informer, Bookmarks Magazine and Wired Magazine interest me. I don’t know if the library subscribes to those.

    Thanks again Chris and Libby!

  8. MCW Says:

    Sorry, Chris I missed your note about what branch I’d like to see magazines at. If they aren’t currently available at Cornelius branch (My suggestions), I’d be interested in seeing them there (Also North County is only a few miles away from it, so I guess it depends on which one has what).

  9. Thomas Says:

    The most important suggestion that I can make is to extend access to Ancestry.com to the branch libraries. It is available downtown for genealogical research. It would be very appreciated by those of us who do not use the main branch.

    Even if it was just available on one computer per branch that would be such a great help in our family research projects.

    We have a great library system with most helpful librians. Thank you for it.

  10. EKM Says:

    Observations…

    Self-checkout at some of the branches (esp. Mountain Island) is causing major delays for customers. It was faster when the librarian did it.

    Drop-off containers need to be easily accessible for cars, like the ones at the North library.

    The more computer classes offered, the better, as long as the students are truly interested and it’s not used by parents as a babysitting service.

  11. M Says:

    First and foremost the homeless situation needs to be addressed at Main. There should be some valuable resources for them instead of them coming into the library playing chess and “hanging out” vs. finding jobs. I know alot of them choose not to take advantage of the computer/resume classes which is a shame.

    Self checkout: I think it would be a great idea if it was only used by patrons who don’t have many items..similar to the grocery store..10 items or less. When you have great heaps of items to check out something usually ALWAYS goes wrong when using self checkout. I know staff who are more than happy to feel useful by checking out our heaps of books to us. They still have to pass them around the detectors anyway.

  12. MCW Says:

    @EKM

    I agree partly with your Mountain Island observations. The reason for the slowdown at the front desk is that there are two scanners (Usually one because the other is often broken for whatever reason), when there is room for at least three (Not to mention that you could easily make the tabled area bigger and just have a free-for-all with scanners… the more the better), if the space wasted with stand-up signs was cleared out. Plus, the librarians are taking questions and helping people while other people are waiting for the librarians to pass their items through security so they can even leave the library. It becomes mass confusion, and the scanners lose all effectiveness because of this. Angry customers then abound.

    It should be SELF checkout, but Mountain Island wants to do things the hard way.

    Also, as you said in a roundabout way, the drop-off at the Mountain Island library is not well situated. It is placed between two parking spaces that are parallel to it, so if large cars are parked there, you cannot get to the box. Plus, if you actually do get to the box, you block the entire parking lot traffic (Incoming and Outgoing) while you place books in the drop-off box.

    Worse yet is when they put a sign over the box that says “No Drop-Off’s – Please come Inside!” What does that even mean? That they are too lazy to walk out there and empty the box that day? I think that’s exactly what it means, and it’s the reason I had to pay a fine once.

    In a way, I’m glad I don’t have to go to the Mountain Island location much anymore. Like I’ve mentioned elsewhere, it’s the little things that really get on your nerves at the various locations. Simple things that could be changed if a little effort were put into that.

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