I used to use library when I was a kid. It was a fun way to explore new books and the mystery of the world. But internet changed it all. I haven’t used library since ages, as everything I want is available on the internet. (You know, the not-copyrighted ‘free’ ebooks that you can download from P2P, you know what I mean)
I went to the city library few days back just for a change. I got a library card and thought of borrowing some book for a change. The book I wanted was already checked out by someone. So I had to put it in a request. But the system of request and holding is very inefficient, here is how.
If you want to borrow some book, you search library catalog. If the book is checked out by someone already, it gives you an option to reserve that book once it is available. So whenever that person returns the book, the system emails you about the book availability. All this is fine. But the book is now on hold and library keeps it for you for 10 days. If you don’t show up in 10 days, the next person who reserved the book gets it.
So the problem part is the 10 days hold period. For example, I recently requested a book “Into the Wild“. I got an email after 2 months of waiting. Currently the book is on hold for me. They will keep on hold for 10 days. And there are 78 more people waiting after me for this book. So the book just stalls for 10 days without any use, even if there are 78 people waiting for it. Suppose if I don’t show up and the next person in queue also doesn’t show up, that will make the resource (in this case, the book) unavailable for next 20 days, even if no one is using it.
I bet this is happening every day at library. 1000s of books are kept just on hold, making the system very inefficient. Most of the resources are just staying on the shelf even if there is hunger for knowledge. Which is against the idea of library. I don’t yet know whats the best way to manage this. Let me know in comments if you have any idea. May be someone will implement it after reading this.