The Library is the New DMV

Last year, I wrote about my rather pleasant experience dealing with the DMV.   They had embraced technology and, to my surprise, found that the wait times for walk-in non-appointments were listed online.  This allowed me to find which local office had the least amount of wait time (2 hours versus 5 minutes) and, as a result, was in and out with a new license in no time.

My local library has also moved forward into the future with a very comprehensive online search and reservation system that allows the Customer (in this case, me!) to request just about any book, CD or DVD from a vast conglomerate of libraries across the Metropolitan area and have it delivered to my local library.  When they arrive, I receive an email notifying me.  I can also renew books online, and I get a courtesy notice online when they are due.  Is the library the new DMV?Great stuff and everything that I could want and expect from my government tax dollars at work.

Unfortunately, it appears that the DMV’s old reputation has been usurped by my library.   Please allow me to elaborate.

I have noticed several times that I will receive an email letting me know that I have a book “ready for pickup”.

I will go pick it up and check it out (using the self checkout – yet another great feature of my library).

Over the course of the next few week, while I am reading the book, I get another email letting me know that the book is ready for me to pick up.

Weird, right?

Sometimes, I actually get an email AFTER I turn the book in.  Guess what that email says?

Yep, you guessed it.  That the book is ready for me to pick up!

Last week, when I walked into the library to pick up my stack of 16 books waiting for me, and there was a book which I had already read.

Rather than just turn it back in, I went up to the checkout counter and tried to explain what was happening to the librarian.  Not the head librarian, but rather, one of the very helpful people who work there.

As I attempted to explain the issue (and let them know that there may be a glitch in the system), the lady kept explaining away the issue with various reasons.

– Sometimes notices cross in the mail

– You may have ordered it twice

– Did you really check it out and read it?

Yep.  Not a lot of listening.  Just a whole lot of “I know more than you, little library Customer.”

Finally, I grew tired and said that I would not bring it up again in the future, and that I would just turn them back in.  At which point, she said, “Oh no, please let us know, we want to find out if there is an issue.”

Hmmmm……not sure where to go with this one. There are so many lessons to learn for Customer Service here.

1- When your Customer wants to explain something to you, don’t interrupt or try to explain what is happening.  Just listen.

2 – Believe in your Customer.  Believe what they say.

3 – If there is an issue, work together to try and solve it. In the case of my interaction with the library worker, she could work with me to find out if the computer system has a glitch. If it has happened to me several times, think about how many times it may be happening to the thousands, and tens of thousands of Customers who use the library’s online and self checkout systems.

On the positive side, the library’s resources are great and I will continue to be a Customer.  Gotta go, I have a stack of books to read.

Thanks for reading,



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