Monday, November 3, 2008

At what point does "sehel” kick in?

Part of the job of the librarian is to balance resources and the needs of users. Part of the balancing involves having a circulation policy that is fair. Books need to be available for all users. What happens when the needs of one reader conflict with the needs of another? What happens when the library staff tries to enforce the library rules?

Here’s the story -- A library patron borrowed books from branch library #1 last February and still has not returned them. Automatically the library system billed the patron for $445 and put a hold on the account. The patron went to branch library #2 and wanted to take out more books. The system would not let the patron check out books and the circulation person is not allowed to over ride that kind of the fine. The fine must be cleared with the business office at library #1. The patron became irate and yelled at the circulation staff. The library director was not in the library at the time.

The patron was so irate that she went to the president. The president sent an e-mail to the library director saying, "Please tell me why this student can not take books out?”

The library director wrote back and said there are 445 reasons why she can’t check out books.

The president wanted to know where the policy was written saying the students who own fines can’t check out books.

The district policy is: Persons who have a delinquent account will have a delinquency service indicator placed against all records. Students with delinquency service indicators will not be allowed to register or receive transcripts, degrees or certificates until their outstanding balances have been resolved and the service indicator has been released.

This should be “common knowledge.” That is a policy that is obvious. At what point does “sehel” (common sense) kick in?

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